Editor’s Note: This issue’s Young Lawyers Corner spotlights Tax Section member Brandon King, an “On the Rise – Top 40 Young Lawyers” Award recipient.
ATT: Congratulations to you, Brandon, as a 2021 honoree! Can you tell us what led you to become interested in tax law?
BK: I had a business minor in undergrad, so I had taken classes in accounting, finance, and business law. Those exposed me to some tax concepts before law school, but I did not get back into tax law until I took Income Tax 1 during my 2L year. Learning about the basic concepts of gross income and deductions reignited my interest in the area. With the help of my terrific tax professor Leandra Lederman, I redirected my law school pursuits to tax internships, volunteer programs, and other tax-related activities. I found and still find the intellectual rigors of tax law to be exciting.
ATT: What led you from that to becoming involved in the Tax Section?
BK: I was not involved with the Tax Section until I came to Georgetown for my Tax LL.M. I attended my first ABA Tax meeting the fall of 2015 and quickly found it to be a great way to network with tax practitioners. When I started learning about other opportunities to get involved, in particular with the Law Student Tax Challenge, I started doing more and more!
ATT: How has your involvement with the Tax Section helped you in your career?
BK: I have been fortunate to meet dozens of fantastic colleagues through the Tax Section over the years. Some have been mentors, and some have become my friends. In both cases, I have gained valuable networking opportunities, which have helped me get a much better feel for what it means to practice tax law. It has also helped me become a young leader in the Tax Section. I wouldn’t have been able to hone my networking and leadership skills without the support and involvement of others in the Section.
ATT: Would you encourage other young lawyers to get involved with the Tax Section?
BK: I think young lawyers underestimate the benefits that bar associations can bring to a career. Between terrific networking opportunities, opportunities to get involved in cutting edge speaking and writing projects, and the possibility of landing a new position, bar associations provide tremendous career benefits. The Tax Section is certainly no different. For those who are just starting out and want to figure out where to work and what to do in tax, the Tax Section’s membership is incredibly helpful and supportive. For those who want to build their profiles and gain valuable leadership and networking skills, there are many ways to do so through the Section.
ATT: What would be the two most important words of advice you might have for other young lawyers?
BK: Take risks and put yourself out there! Taking risks is how you can meaningfully advance your career. I have been involved in Tax Section projects for several years now, and although I don’t receive any billable credit, I know the benefits of working on these projects will pay dividends. Sometimes it is challenging to balance the demands of my day-to-day practice with such activities, but taking the plunge and getting involved in such work has been worth it many times over. Putting yourself out there means first and foremost, just showing up! I always tell younger lawyers and law students that the best way to get involved in the Section is to show up at a meeting and introduce yourself to one person. That single conversation can lead to so many other projects and opportunities that you could not even imagine.
ATT: Do you have any additional advice for new Section members?
BK: Try out different things. Unless you know exactly what area and type of tax law you want to practice when you first get involved (I certainly didn’t), go to different committees’ panels, business meetings, and networking events. Get to know more people and introduce yourself. I think everyone can find a home somewhere in the Section; it just takes some work to figure out where it is.
ATT: Have you had a mentor or sponsor who helped guide and support you?
BK: I have been fortunate to have so many great mentors and sponsors supporting my career over the years. In particular, I would like to give shoutouts to Caroline Ciraolo and Robert Russell. They have provided valuable mentorship and guidance since I was at Georgetown. Both have given me honest and frank advice about practicing tax law and what it means to practice tax in a large firm setting.
ATT: So at this point, what would you say is your favorite thing about tax?
BK: The never-ending sea of puzzles! No two days in my practice are the same. I am always anxious and excited to work on new issues, and there are plenty of them!
ATT: Besides your tax reading (which we know we all do a good bit of), what books are you reading for work or fun?
BK: A book I first read last year and am reading again is Inclusify: The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging by Dr. Stefanie K. Johnson. She does an in-depth analysis of what works and does not work for meaningfully advancing inclusion, diversity, and belonging in professional organizations, such as law firms. I find her thoughts and advice to be very practical. It is in part because of her book that I have made DEI work a critical component of my work as a practitioner.