How to Become a Tax Lawyer in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a tax lawyer. Learn about education and licensure requirements, key skills, job growth and median salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Tax Lawyer?

Tax lawyers are legal professionals who specialize in assisting clients in issues regarding state or federal taxes. They may work with both individuals or corporations and provide legal advice regarding how to declare their taxes properly, especially when dealing with complex regulations or large amounts of income. Rules and regulations may vary from state-to-state, so tax lawyers are responsible with being up to date and familiar with these laws so that their clients do not get into legal trouble with the IRS. The following chart gives an overview of what you need to know about entering the field.

Degree RequiredA law school degree is required, usually with a preferred background in accounting
Licensure Lawyers are required to pass bar certification examination before practicing law
Key SkillsAnalytical skills; writing, speaking, and researching skills; problem-solving skills
Job Growth (2014-24) 6% (for all lawyers)*
Average Salary (2015) $136,260 (for all lawyers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A tax lawyer typically has a background in business or accounting. To obtain this background, you can complete an undergraduate degree program in business or accounting. A bachelor's degree is required to apply to law school.

Step 2: Apply to Law School

You need to prepare for and take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a standardized exam that tests reading comprehension and logical and analytical reasoning, before applying to law school. Once you have your LSAT scores, you can assemble your law school applications or use the Law School Admission Council's Credential Assembly Service to help you submit your applications. Tuition, location, student body size and the overall quality of the school are factors to consider when selecting a law school, according to the Law School Admission Council. All states require lawyers to graduate from a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association.

Step 3: Obtain an Internship

While in law school, you can gain hands-on experience in tax law by completing a summer or semester internship with a law firm that specializes in taxation. Department bulletin boards and the American Bar Association may offer assistance with locating an internship at a law firm. Student activities, such as the law review and the political science club, also provide opportunities to gain experience and network.

Step 4: Graduate and Pass the Bar Examination

Once you have completed law school and earned a Juris Doctor (JD), you can sit for the state bar examination in your state. State bar requirements vary, but all lawyers must pass a state bar examination in order to practice law.

Step 5: Complete Additional Education and Seek Employment

While some lawyers may jump right into practicing tax law, some may prefer to complete a Master of Laws in Taxation to ensure mastery of the subject. Additionally, all lawyers must complete continuing education in order to maintain their licensure. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for attorneys, including tax lawyers, will grow by 6% from 2014 to 2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are many other branches of law that individuals may wish to consider. For those who are interested in criminal law, they may want to pursue a career in litigation or as a defense attorney. There are also options within marriage and family law, immigration law, and international business law, to name a few alternatives. For individuals with a strong interest in finance and taxes, they may be interested in careers as accountants or auditors.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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