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Alumni Spotlight

Tom Schnellenberger JD'79

Tom Schnellenberger JD’79

Partner, Ice Miller, LLP

“The fundamentals of statutory and regulatory interpretation I learned at IU are an integral part of my daily practice.”

Areas of Focus

Tax Law

Tax issues are relevant to almost every area of law and can arise in transactional and litigation contexts. The Introduction to Income Tax course, which focuses on federal income tax issues applicable to individuals, is useful both for law students who are considering a career in tax law and for those who plan to focus on other areas of law.

Courses

Indiana Law’s tax courses comprehensively cover income tax issues applicable to individuals, corporations, and partnerships; transfer taxation and charitable giving; tax policy; and tax procedure. Many of these classes appeal to graduate students in the Kelley School of Business, as well as to law students.

Introduction to Income Tax serves as a prerequisite for many other tax courses, but some tax courses may be taken concurrently with Introduction to Income Tax. Students who know they are interested in tax law should try to take Introduction to Income Tax during their second year; taking it in the fall of the second year will provide the maximum opportunity to take advanced tax courses.

Core Tax Course
Advanced Offerings in the Law School
Allied Law School Courses
Tax Courses in the Kelley School of Business

Law students may also take tax classes in Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in appropriate circumstances, after consultation with the Law School’s director of the Tax Program. Tax course offerings in the Kelley School include International Tax, among others.

Student Activities and Opportunities

The Business and Law Society sponsors lectures and informal discussions and provides members with a forum to discuss their ideas, as well as opportunities to meet practicing business lawyers.

The Indiana University Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program provides free tax help to low-income taxpayers, including Indiana University students, who cannot prepare their own tax returns or those who simply want a second opinion. VITA volunteers complete income analysis and also qualify individuals for government tax credits, which can increase their tax refunds.The IU VITA program runs during the spring semester, from January until mid-March. Volunteers in the program must obtain the Basic and Foreign Student VITA certifications before meeting with clients and completing actual tax returns. IU VITA runs 2 days a week for 3 hours each night. VITA Volunteers may commit as much time as they wish to the program. However, a minimum contribution time of 6 hours is required in order to ensure that consistent and accurate advice is given. A call-out meeting will generally be held at the start of each spring semester.

The Tax Policy Colloquium brings in six speakers during the spring semester, each of whom are tax professors presenting cutting-edge research on tax law and policy. Students who are not enrolled in the Colloquium who would like to attend any of the talks should contact Professor Leandra Lederman (llederma@indiana.edu).

Scholarships and Fellowships

A specialized award, the Indianapolis Bar Association Taxation Section Scholarship, is given each year to a student excelling in the study of tax law.

Career Opportunities

Attorneys with a tax practice may do transactional work, tax controversy work, estate planning, employee benefits work, and work related to the special issues of non-profit organizations. Other careers in tax law may include positions with: the federal government, particularly the IRS, Treasury Department, Justice Department and/or the United States Tax Court; state government; private law firms; accounting firms; or as in-house counsel to a company. Our alumni practice tax in an array of settings all over the country. The Office of Career and Professional Development has copies of the book Careers in Tax Law: Perspectives on the Tax Profession and What It Holds for You, which provides helpful information on a wide array of practice areas.

Joint Degrees

Students seeking more depth in taxation with an accounting focus can pursue a joint JD and MBA in Accounting or a JD and Master of Professional Accountancy (MPA). Many students in joint degree programs in law and business, as well as other law students interested in business law, belong to the Business and Law Society.

Other Educational Opportunities
National Competitions

Several organizations sponsor competitions for students focused on tax law. The American Bar Association Section of Taxation Young Lawyers Forum sponsors a Law Student Tax Challenge that focuses on the federal income tax consequences of a business planning problem. The Tannenwald Foundation and the Federal Bar Association Section on Taxation sponsor writing contests focused on tax law. Students interested in participating in a national competition focused on tax law should contact a member of the tax faculty.

Careers in Tax Law Panels

In September 2012, the Law School hosted a Careers in Tax Law panel, followed by a networking reception sponsored by the American Bar Association Section of Taxation. The panel included tax attorneys from Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis; Ernst & Young in Indianapolis; Indiana Legal Services in Bloomington; and the IRS Office of Chief Counsel in Washington, DC.

In September 2013, the Law School hosted a second Careers in Tax Law panel and networking reception sponsored by the American Bar Association Tax Section and the Indiana State Bar Association Tax Section. This panel included tax attorneys from the Indiana Tax Court, Faegre Baker Daniels, Ernst & Young, and the IRS Office of Chief Counsel — all in Indianapolis — and Cummins, Inc. in Columbus, IN.

Faculty
Adjunct Faculty