Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Do You Need A Tax LL.M. To Land A Great Job Right Now?

Following up on my previous post, Is Getting A Tax LL.M. A Good Idea?:  Bloomberg Tax, Do You Need a Tax LL.M. to Land a Great Job Right Now?:

LLM 2Despite worries about the economy, the job market remains relatively healthy. US payrolls gained 372,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate remained at 3.6%—comparable to pre-Covid-19 levels in February 2020.

Over the past month, job growth was strong in the legal and accounting fields—and that’s not expected to change. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, law jobs are projected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations, while jobs for accountants and auditors will grow 7%.

Even with the number of available jobs, candidates are looking for the extras that will make them stand out. So what does that look like? In some cases, the difference maker might be school or work performance—while other notables include languages, internships, and life experience.

Over the years, I’ve fielded questions from aspiring accountants and lawyers about career choices. One that comes up quite often is whether earning a tax LL.M. will give you an edge or make it easier to get a job. As with many things in the tax world, it depends. ...

Tax LL.M. programs often are filled with tax nerds—I was one of them. I really loved my tax law classes and simply kept taking more. As we grew close to graduation, the dean asked if I had considered a tax LL.M. As a first-generation law student, I didn’t even know what it was. But I relished the idea of learning more tax. It wasn’t about a job for me; I was already working, and I simply wanted to be a better tax attorney.

Other candidates might be lawyers hoping to switch practice areas. One of my colleagues who wanted out of general corporate law work viewed the degree as her ticket to the firm’s state and local tax practice—which she considered a more straightforward path to partner.

And, of course, a degree doesn’t always have to be about landing a new job. A fellow attorney sought a tax LL.M. to make her a better manager at a nonprofit organization.

Students often ask whether a tax LL.M. can help land a job at a top law or accounting firm. The answer is maybe. An LL.M. can make you more competitive if you’re otherwise a good candidate. It also might help you shine when your grades are just OK or you lack specific job experience—but it won’t guarantee a job. If you don’t have the other qualifications a particular employer seeks, it won’t make up the difference. ...

No One-Size-Fits-All Answer
As with many things, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to career decisions. There is a lot to consider. But as a start, I suggest asking yourself two questions:

  • What is it that you really want, long term?
  • Is another degree the best and most cost-efficient way to get there?

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