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Barry
  • Law Student
4 hours ago, Fiona Apple said:

Finishing work around 4 or 5? My clerking experience was very different lol. Maybe I should have gone to the tax court...

Would love to hear more about your experience as well if you care to share. Though not sure if there’s a more appropriate clerking specific thread going yet. 

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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer
5 hours ago, Kurrika said:

Depended on how efficient you were and if you were on a big case etc...  And how early in the morning you started.  I lived across the street from the court when I clerked, so I started by 745 most mornings and ate my lunch at my desk.

My clerkship experience was the same, though I usually started around 8:30. Efficiency is a big one, as are the judges you work with at most courts (not as big a problem when you’re pooled, I imagine). I probably had the most relaxed or second most relaxed clerkship experience at my court, pretty routinely “working” about 35 hours a week.

One of my colleagues was a big outlier in term of hours worked, pretty routinely pulling 60+ hour weeks. That was a bit of misfortune related to being on a major case and working with judges that I would describe as less than respectful of professional boundaries. 

Most of my peers were probably averaging about 40 to 50 hours of work a week. Which is obviously great for law (and amazing for articling). 

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Fiona Apple
  • Lawyer
On 12/31/2021 at 1:23 AM, Kurrika said:

Depended on how efficient you were and if you were on a big case etc...  And how early in the morning you started.  I lived across the street from the court when I clerked, so I started by 745 most mornings and ate my lunch at my desk.

That makes a lot more sense, efficiency has always been my problem. I often have no one but myself to blame for working late because I was so unproductive earlier in the day.

On 12/31/2021 at 2:44 AM, Barry said:

Would love to hear more about your experience as well if you care to share. Though not sure if there’s a more appropriate clerking specific thread going yet. 

It was really great, I really loved it. I really like research and memo writing and I felt like I got way more of that kind of deep thinking work during my clerkship than I do in private practice. I also was able to work in basically every major area of law, which was another huge bonus (not that I don't love tax, but I love other things, like torts and evidence and criminal law). Maybe the biggest positive, though, was working with a bunch of very brilliant colleagues (although, like Kurrika, I've heard that the cohesiveness of a clerk class varies year-to-year, so this may be different for you).

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  • 2 weeks later...
switchdog
  • Lawyer
On 1/9/2022 at 7:35 PM, Kimura said:

Is it just me, or is tax pretty damn complicated?

It is what I love most about tax law. It is also what I hate the most about tax law.

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https://www.bcjobs.ca/jobs/band-5-executive-director-victoria-1194759

 

Quote

The Executive Director of the Tax Policy Branch directs the work of the Directors within the branch and is the key point person for all provincial taxation issues. This position routinely provides advice on issues arising across all ministries and across provincial and federal boundaries that can affect all or various sectors of the economy as well as all British Columbians. The Executive Director anticipates and identifies risks to future tax revenue resulting from external actions (e.g. federal tax changes, commodity prices, exchange rate, etc.).

The Executive Director is responsible for maintaining relationships with senior officials in tax policy branches in other provincial, territorial and federal departments of finance.

This position assumes a leadership role in identifying and anticipating risks to future tax revenues and developing and maintaining key relations within the BC government, federal and provincial government officials and external agencies to affect change in various areas of the economy.If you are an effective communicator withanalytical and problem solving skills,we encourage you to apply to this challenging and rewarding opportunity.
 

 

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Skweemish
  • Lawyer
On 1/9/2022 at 8:35 PM, Kimura said:

Is it just me, or is tax pretty damn complicated?

It's just you. Real experts know it is INCREDIBLY complicated. 

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Kimura
  • Articling Student
12 hours ago, Skweemish said:

It's just you. Real experts know it is INCREDIBLY complicated. 

At what point do you develop a proficiency? Relatedly, what kind of work can you expect to get handed to you as a junior associate, specifically in tax planning.

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Skweemish
  • Lawyer
58 minutes ago, Kimura said:

At what point do you develop a proficiency? Relatedly, what kind of work can you expect to get handed to you as a junior associate, specifically in tax planning.

I have a bare level fluency in my area of tax (GST/HST) and it is literally the only thing I did for two and a half years (barring some adjacent work in PST land, and dabbling in carbon and the new luxury tax). I think the rule of thumb is that it takes about ten years to reach a level of proficiency where you are comfortable "going it alone," but in my experience all of my best and most interesting work has involved at least one other person to discuss a problem with.

As for the junior associate.. let me put a pin in that. I've been at an accounting firm for the last few years, and I'll have a much better insight into associate work at a law firm in.. about 3 weeks.

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switchdog
  • Lawyer
1 hour ago, Kimura said:

At what point do you develop a proficiency? Relatedly, what kind of work can you expect to get handed to you as a junior associate, specifically in tax planning.

In terms of work you can expect, I’ve noticed at the junior stage, at least for me, the bulk of it is drafting. I usually have minimal involvement at the actual planning stage. There may be some research on a particular issue and participation in planning calls, but the actual planning is typically left to the partners. That’s not to say I don’t share my input though if I feel the need. But at my firm, I more come in to actually implement the planning (e.g. drafting checklists/agreements, delegating to clerks, working with accountants to ensure any forms/returns get filed post-closing, etc.). Sometimes there are other things that come up that I need to do. For example, if the client wants a ruling, I’ll usually do a first draft of that. Maybe a trust needs to be established, which I’ll draft the agreement for. The client may also want to change his/her Will too, so I may work with an estates lawyer to have it drafted (or sometimes draft myself). 
 

 

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Fruitdealer
  • Lawyer
21 minutes ago, switchdog said:

In terms of work you can expect, I’ve noticed at the junior stage, at least for me, the bulk of it is drafting. I usually have minimal involvement at the actual planning stage. There may be some research on a particular issue and participation in planning calls, but the actual planning is typically left to the partners. That’s not to say I don’t share my input though if I feel the need. But at my firm, I more come in to actually implement the planning (e.g. drafting checklists/agreements, delegating to clerks, working with accountants to ensure any forms/returns get filed post-closing, etc.). Sometimes there are other things that come up that I need to do. For example, if the client wants a ruling, I’ll usually do a first draft of that. Maybe a trust needs to be established, which I’ll draft the agreement for. The client may also want to change his/her Will too, so I may work with an estates lawyer to have it drafted (or sometimes draft myself). 
 

 

I think this is going to vary heavily depending on the firm size. What @switchdog mentioned is going to be true for mid+ sized firms.

Smaller tax boutiques tend to be focused more on disputes/litigation, but to the extent that you get on tax planning files, you have are likely to be more directly involved or have direct carriage of the file even as a junior. The type of tax planning work is typically going to be limited to estate planning and related reorgs (estate freezes, LCGE multiplication, etc).

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  • 5 weeks later...
RobsonHallHopeful
  • Law School Admit

I'm a 0L & I've been working as a tier 2 tech support agent for one of Canada's biggest tax software's for the past 3 years. I have experience with troubleshooting issues surrounding T1's, T2's, T3's, and various slips. I mostly work on the technical side, but I can confidently prepare simple returns, and am familiar with the majority of common forms for T1's & T2's. I'm wondering if my career experience will give me a decent entry point into tax law or if a CPA is pretty much a necessity? I'd appreciate peoples thoughts :)

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Rashabon
  • Lawyer
3 minutes ago, RobsonHallHopeful said:

I'm a 0L & I've been working as a tier 2 tech support agent for one of Canada's biggest tax software's for the past 3 years. I have experience with troubleshooting issues surrounding T1's, T2's, T3's, and various slips. I mostly work on the technical side, but I can confidently prepare simple returns, and am familiar with the majority of common forms for T1's & T2's. I'm wondering if my career experience will give me a decent entry point into tax law or if a CPA is pretty much a necessity? I'd appreciate peoples thoughts 🙂

A CPA is necessary for an accountant. Not for being a tax lawyer. Tax law doesn't involve preparing tax returns. If you want to be someone that works on assessments and tax challenges and whatever, familiarity with the forms is helpful. But the vast majority of tax lawyers are not accountants.

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  • 1 month later...
Skweemish
  • Lawyer

So I have previously mentioned I teach a tax litigation course, and I've decided to start a new project for myself to help my students. If anyone here works at a firm that hires articling students in tax and maybe doesn't hire through traditional hiring streams, please reach out! I'm trying to create a pipeline from my class to the profession at large...

🙂

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Catpurrccino
  • Law Student
On 10/13/2021 at 8:39 AM, Skweemish said:

Brief follow-up: course approved. I'll be teaching tax litigation.

how did you get to teach ? were you invited or did you approach to school/propose your plan?

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Skweemish
  • Lawyer
3 hours ago, Catpurrccino said:

how did you get to teach ? were you invited or did you approach to school/propose your plan?

I approached my former tax prof and asked if I could teach a GST/HST course. That got approved, but in the interim I also approached the school to teach a tax litigation course which was already on the books so they accepted that right away. I co-teach it with my former articling principal, oddly enough!

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Catpurrccino
  • Law Student
14 hours ago, Skweemish said:

I approached my former tax prof and asked if I could teach a GST/HST course. That got approved, but in the interim I also approached the school to teach a tax litigation course which was already on the books so they accepted that right away. I co-teach it with my former articling principal, oddly enough!

that's amazing!! congrats!

not sure if it is only at my school - there seems to be almost no courses on GST/HST? is it because there is very little work on GST/HST in practice?

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Fruitdealer
  • Lawyer
2 hours ago, Catpurrccino said:

that's amazing!! congrats!

not sure if it is only at my school - there seems to be almost no courses on GST/HST? is it because there is very little work on GST/HST in practice?

There is a fair amount of GST/HST work around. It comes into play the most in disputes/lit (i.e. taxpayers aren't collecting and remitting GST/HST properly, ITC issues, director liability) and some commercial aspects (compliance). That said, the bulk of the tax work around is related to income tax.

IMO one of the other major issues is that GST/HST comes under the Excise Tax Act  while the rest of the tax courses are going to be using the Income Tax Act. There is already a significant learning curve with tax law such that Tax I is basically just a pre-req and is not very useful in practice by itself. The various income tax courses tend to build around each other to some extent while GST/HST is pretty separate.

That's not to say GST/HST wouldn't be a great law school course. For the same reason as above, lawyers that have to deal with GST/HST but haven't otherwise come into contact with it much before are going to struggle initially to figure out what's going on.

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Skweemish
  • Lawyer
On 3/23/2022 at 12:51 PM, Catpurrccino said:

that's amazing!! congrats!

not sure if it is only at my school - there seems to be almost no courses on GST/HST? is it because there is very little work on GST/HST in practice?

I believe my course is unique in the country, at least at the law school level 🙂

As Fruitdealer said, GST/HST work is plentiful but quite niche. Usually it is the last thing people think of - but I did just GST/HST work for almost 3 years straight and never wanted for work, and my team was quite substantial (26 practitioners across various disciplines by the time I left).

You'll find a lot more in-house GST/HST people, for example Irving or Sobeys all have their own teams.

I'm something of a tax evangelist so I am excited to have an opportunity to introduce people to more than what you'd normally get out of law school.

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Catpurrccino
  • Law Student
9 hours ago, Skweemish said:

I believe my course is unique in the country, at least at the law school level 🙂

As Fruitdealer said, GST/HST work is plentiful but quite niche. Usually it is the last thing people think of - but I did just GST/HST work for almost 3 years straight and never wanted for work, and my team was quite substantial (26 practitioners across various disciplines by the time I left).

You'll find a lot more in-house GST/HST people, for example Irving or Sobeys all have their own teams.

I'm something of a tax evangelist so I am excited to have an opportunity to introduce people to more than what you'd normally get out of law school.

Do you mind if I PM you?

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Chambertin
  • Lawyer
On 3/23/2022 at 11:51 AM, Catpurrccino said:

that's amazing!! congrats!

not sure if it is only at my school - there seems to be almost no courses on GST/HST? is it because there is very little work on GST/HST in practice?

Agree that that there is a lot of indirect tax work and most practitioners I know do some amount of work with the ETA (primarily dispute resolution) including myself.

 

As for why it's not taught in school, I don't understand. It would have been helpful when I arrived at the Tax Court to have a basic grasp. The ETA is simultaneously extremely simple, and incredibly, minutely detailed. I suspect it's not taught by tax profs at law school due to lack of personal interest, lack of scholarly interest (not as much grants for indirect tax) and no demand from students or the profession. 

In my view, every baby tax course should have 2 lectures covering the basics of the ETA. One, on the basics of how it works (John Owen just recently gave the syllabus in Medi-Clean) and two, on the collection/enforcement provisions (mix it in with the ITA equivalents if you want to make the most useful tax course ever!)

It's banana pants crazy they spend a whole course talking about income tax and never talk about how the government collects it!

 

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Kimura
  • Articling Student
20 minutes ago, Chambertin said:

Agree that that there is a lot of indirect tax work and most practitioners I know do some amount of work with the ETA (primarily dispute resolution) including myself.

 

As for why it's not taught in school, I don't understand. It would have been helpful when I arrived at the Tax Court to have a basic grasp. The ETA is simultaneously extremely simple, and incredibly, minutely detailed. I suspect it's not taught by tax profs at law school due to lack of personal interest, lack of scholarly interest (not as much grants for indirect tax) and no demand from students or the profession. 

In my view, every baby tax course should have 2 lectures covering the basics of the ETA. One, on the basics of how it works (John Owen just recently gave the syllabus in Medi-Clean) and two, on the collection/enforcement provisions (mix it in with the ITA equivalents if you want to make the most useful tax course ever!)

It's banana pants crazy they spend a whole course talking about income tax and never talk about how the government collects it!

 

Very good points. As a summer student one of the first files I worked on was a GST/HST collection dispute. The only time GST/HST was brought up during school is when a professor mentioned how it deserves a course all on its own lol. 

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