Networking and Developing Practical Skillsets Means Everything to This Tax Professor
Carried interest. Depreciation. Itemized deductions. Tax terms have entered the American lexicon during the 2016 presidential election cycle like never before. The prominence of tax issues underscores the importance of skilled professionals who can spot tax issues, interpret tax policy and deal with the change that comes with a new president’s policies. Enter Loyola Tax LLM Director Jennifer Kowal, who has long understood the critical role tax professionals play in our country.
“A healthy and functioning tax system supports our entire legal structure and civilized society,” she said. “It’s relevant to everyone.” As such, Kowal works to ensure her students are ready to hit the ground running with unique programs like the Summer Tax Intensive and a range of clinical opportunities, such as the IRS Small Case Tax Law Clinic and the Nonprofit Tax & Transactional Clinic. Additionally, Loyola brings to campus some of the biggest names in tax during its weekly Tax Policy Colloquium and annual Western Conference on Tax Exempt Organizations – celebrating its 20th year.
Aside from having a deep Rolodex in the tax law field to help her students make connections, Kowal has a wealth of real-world experience. She practiced with the firms of Irell & Manella LLP in Los Angeles and Ropes & Gray in Boston, advising clients on the taxation of various business transactions, including cross-border, partnership and corporate structures.
The Kansas native teaches a number of courses, including the Tax Law Practicum, Accounting for Lawyers and Advanced Tax Research & Planning. She also focuses heavily on teaching tax research to help student confront “gray-area fact patterns” where there is no clear answer. In order to fully grasp these complicated patterns, tax attorneys must synthesize and analyze different tax laws and rules. “Strong research skills are essential for a tax lawyer, so I want to make sure all of my students have a lot of experience with researching as much as possible,” she said.
Kowal’s students range from working professionals to recent JD graduates. They share one trait: All are looking to establish tax law careers. With the intent of helping these students get a jump start on their future professions, Kowal works on getting to know each of her students. She recently hosted a weekend networking brunch on campus for tax faculty, alumni and students to mingle.
“I try to make a difference by listening and trying to understand what each student wants to do,” she said, adding that she usually focuses on networking opportunities for these students, working to connect each student with a Tax LLM alum. By doing this, she hopes each student can gain a better grasp of what the real-world tax field is actually like.
“The Tax LLM program is top notch, and it’s a creative, interesting and challenging field. If you join our program, you won’t regret it,” she said.