April 15, 2022 – University of Houston Law Center students and alumni virtually discussed tax litigation and transactional law at events hosted Wednesday, April 6 by the Career Development Office (CDO), delving into big and small business dilemmas in tax law, petitions and appeals, and interview tips.
“In my job, I am learning something new every day,” said IRS Office of Chief Counsel attorney Christina Sullivan ’15. “I feel like with law, I could have easily gone into a different area of the law where it was the same thing every day, but really and truly, I get such a wide variety of cases with such different problems and different people that it is never the same.”
CDO Assistant Dean Tiffany Tucker moderated the “Dinner with a Lawyer” conversation, speaking with Sullivan and IRS Office of Chief Counsel attorney Bettina Nadler ’08 about filing and documentation, taxes and the manipulation of circuit courts.
“At the IRS, all we want is for people pay to the right amount of tax,” Nadler said. “We will at times actually help taxpayers pay the right amount and find things they didn’t claim. There can be honest disagreements about how tax law is applied. One of the things that makes it most interesting is that it really is so factually dependent.”
When explaining common qualms with corporate and individual income taxes, Nadler said that tax court was created in response to challenges made against the IRS. It has no juries and does not have jurisdiction unless tax is owed and the statutes are open.
“The IRS tries to work with people,” Nadler said. “If somebody is trying to get by, we are not going to take away all of their money. They get put on a plan based on what they are earning and what their living potential is.”
Internship and Externship Program Director Bill Powers served as moderator for “Lunch with a Lawyer” discussion featuring Associate Megan Ali ’20 and Associate Neimann Gipson ’20 of Reed Smith.
“The firm gives you a lot of open avenues to try out different kinds of work,” Ali said. “As a first-year, I was able to work with a lot of different attorneys to see how different practice groups function and see different working styles. That was really interesting and allowed me to see where I best fit in.”
Gipson advised students to consider interviews, internships and professional programs as job opportunities and to study the company of a potential employer beforehand to know its backstory, write out career goals and review job responsibilities in preparation for interviews.
“View everyone as a client and approach every day like what you are doing is your own small practice, even if you are at a big law firm,” Gipson said. “Hard work, diligence and perseverance are your brand. For people to get to know that, people have to get to know you.”
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