UVA Law Interviews Amanda Leon for Tax Law Profile
When did you decide to become a tax lawyer? Did any of your UVA Law professors influence your decision to go into tax law? If so, who was it and how did they encourage or inspire you?
Hard as I tried, I just could not stay away from tax. Although my pre-law school resume might have fooled some (e.g., CPA and [Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program] volunteer), I did not intend to become a tax lawyer. In fact, I arrived at UVA Law as a 1L announcing my retirement from tax (jokingly after an “illustrious” two-year career as a tax accountant) and very ready to try something new. I took Federal Income Tax that spring solely because my section’s Peer Advisors recommended it as a must-take before graduation, and I figured I might as well take it before I forgot everything I knew about tax. UVA Law and its amazing tax faculty, however, had other plans for me. Just a few weeks into my Federal Income Tax class I was out of retirement discussing the intricacies and logic, or lack thereof, of our tax system with Professor Ruth Mason; by the end of the semester, I was headed to spend my summer working at Caplin & Drysdale as a tax summer associate.
UVA Law’s tax course offerings, which much to my surprise — and gratefully so — were plentiful, solidified my decision to become a tax lawyer and, better yet, prepared me to become one. For example, classes like Professor George Yin’s tax policy seminar taught me to think critically about the why behind tax, Professor Andrew Hayashi’s international tax course taught me how to parse and apply the code, and Professor Mason’s EU tax and international moot court competition classes taught me how to write and advocate in the tax world. Most importantly, however, my time in the tax classroom revealed how passionate all of my professors are about their field and that I would never be bored as a tax lawyer. And here I am, a tax lawyer, much thanks to them.
Did any of your classmates at UVA Law join you in tax practice and have you remained in touch with them?
In addition to providing an invaluable foundation for my future practice (not to mention fostering my inner tax nerd!), UVA Law's vast offering of tax courses provided a unique opportunity to learn and work alongside familiar faces each semester, a mini tax bar of sorts, and make lifelong friendships along the way. While not all of us practice tax now, many of us do and I always look forward to seeing those familiar faces at Virginia Tax Study Group meetings and other conferences or reviving a group text thread when a big case is decided (or even breaking it down on the dance floor at our mutual friends' wedding).
What has been your experience with the Virginia Tax Study Group?
I look forward to attending VTSG meetings every year — and I swear, not just because it is a great excuse to return to Charlottesville! VTSG seems to attract the best and the brightest tax professionals from academia, the government, and private practice year after year, which makes for fascinating panels and discussion. I always leave in awe of both how much I’ve learned and how much more I have to learn. On top of that, in my experience, the VTSG attendees have always been incredibly warm and welcoming to newcomers. I always enjoy catching up with those I’ve met in years past, as well as meeting new people.