The Tax LL.M. Path for Foreign-Educated Lawyers

Before heading to Florida, my advice to my LEALS students was pretty simple: if the plan was to return to China, the LL.M. was generally the appropriate path and if the plan was to stay in the U.S., the J.D. was generally the appropriate path. I encouraged my students interested in remaining in the U.S. to focus on the LSAT, and shared ABA Required Disclosures so they could see median LSAT scores and scholarship awards. While my general advice still holds, I’ve now added specialized Tax LL.M. advice to my LEALS student conversations, and will continue to do so in 2022-23.

Why?

  1. Specialized Programming
  2. Specialized Recruiting for Jobs and Visa Support
  3. Higher Starting Salaries Than Plenty of J.D. Graduates!
  4. Importance of Tax Law and International Tax

My advice to LL.B. students who enjoy tax law and who want to one day study and work in the U.S.?

  • Secure post-LL.B. work experience/education in the field of tax law. This can be working for a law firm, accounting firm, company, government, or a Master’s degree in your home jurisdiction in tax law.
  • I’d generally suggest at least 3 years of tax experience in your home jurisdiction if your goal is to work in the U.S. upon graduation.
  • Begin building your U.S. tax network in advance of your LL.M. experience.

You’ll still need to network, interview well, and work hard to excel in your courses. The timing and how the tax market is doing during your LL.M. year will also come into play. And there will be some degree of “luck” involved, especially for F-1/Non-J.D. hiring. But having observed, spoken with, and worked with many foreign-educated tax lawyers in the last 3 years, it’s a path I’m excited to continue highlighting in 2022-23 and beyond!

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