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Tax Lawyer: Career Definition, Job Outlook, and Training Requirements

Explore the career requirements for tax lawyers. Get the facts about job duties, employment outlook and licensure requirements to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Are Tax Lawyers?

Tax lawyers help individuals and organizations resolve federal, state, local and international tax issues. Numerous companies have these attorneys on their payroll, and they're responsible for keeping up with ever-changing tax laws, as well as filling out often complicated paperwork. In some cases, they may need to represent clients in court. Take a look at the table below to learn more about requirements for a career in this field.

Degree Requirements Juris Doctor (JD)
Key Responsibilities Represent clients in court, provide consultation services
Licensure State licensure is required
Job Growth (2018-2028) 6% (for all lawyers)*
Median Salary (2018) $120,910 (for all lawyers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Tax Lawyer Do at Work?

As a tax lawyer, you work for government agencies, law firms specializing in taxation services, businesses and corporations. You help clients understand how the laws governing taxation affect them and help them comply with those laws. Additional duties include representing clients in court who have been charged with violating tax law and studying trends in the field to keep abreast of ever-changing regulations. Like other lawyers, you often work long hours to fit your clients' schedules and to meet tax filing deadlines.

What Is the Job Outlook?

Average job growth of 6% was projected for lawyers overall between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Lawyers are expected to face strong competition for jobs, due to the increasing number of law school graduates and the limited number of new positions. Applicants who have work experience and are able to relocate could face the best employment prospects.

What Are the Training Requirements?

All lawyers must earn a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree at an accredited law school after earning a general bachelor's degree. The JD involves 3-4 years or 80 semester hours of education based in civil procedure, constitutional and criminal law, contracts, torts, property and general law. Some JD programs contain optional law electives that may benefit prospective tax lawyers down the road.

You may return to school in order to complete a Master of Law Letters (LLM) degree program in taxation, which provides specialized training in the complexities of tax law such as income tax and business entity taxation.

In addition to these educational credentials, you must become licensed to practice law by passing your state's bar examination. As a tax lawyer, you must also be proficient in mathematics, statistics and accounting.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

The next career step for a lawyer could involve working as a judge or hearing officer. While these professionals often obtain their positions through election or appointment, they typically need a law degree and experience as lawyers. If you're not sure you want to pursue a law degree, you might consider working as a paralegal. These professionals often need only an associate's degree, and they assist lawyers by maintaining case files, interviewing prospective clients and performing legal research.