Best way to get into tax law/become a tax solicitor?

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MonoAno555
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Year 12 student doing alevels rn and i was thinking about the best way to become a tax specialist in the field of law. If I go to uni after getting a law degree, i believe now you have to study the SQE now over about 2-3 years (as im applying in 2022) to fully qualify as a solicitor.

What i was wondering is how to specialize in tax specifically as I am not sure as to which of the top law firms practice it.

Also Im wondering about training contracts offered by accounting firms (mainly the KPMG one). Is this a good contract to pursue or are there better ones out there

Many thanks to anyone who can help answer
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chalbliagtelle
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Yep, you're correct about the SQE. In terms of specialising in tax, that's something you'll do when you're in your training contract. during your training contract you will pick a number of 'seats' (usually 4 - 6 depending on the firm) which you rotate around for 2 years, the duration of your tc, and then usually you pick your specialism based on your experience in those seats. so your first step will be passing the sqe, then starting your tc, then choosing a tax seat during its duration and seeing how you find it!

i would say most commercial firms practice tax law. to find the top ones, here is a handy list for firms in london and their 'ranking' in tax https://www.legal500.com/c/london/co...corporate-tax/ this website is great because you'll be able to look regionally as well e.g. this is the strongest tax firms in the south west of the uk https://www.legal500.com/c/south-wes...corporate-tax/ you'll see some firms repeat in these lists because they'll have different offices in london and the south west. so research the firms on that list and apply to any that take your fancy. be careful though because some firms only practice tax in specific offices e.g. dentons only does tax work in its london office so make sure you apply to the right place when the time comes.

as for accounting firms i'd say there's no 'right' or 'wrong' training contract to pursue, just go somewhere you like that likes you back lol! kpmg/deloitte/pwc are just as much a solid choice as mcfarlanes/baker mckenzie.
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EU Yakov
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(Original post by chalbliagtelle)
just go somewhere you like that likes you back lol! kpmg/deloitte/pwc are just as much a solid choice as mcfarlanes/baker mckenzie.
:rofl3:
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chalbliagtelle
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(Original post by EU Yakov)
:rofl3:
ok perhaps for clarification for ops sake: in terms of legal prestige maybe not lmfao. if you're considering other areas of law aside from tax go to a commercial law firm. but imho 'solid choice' = somewhere you'd feel comfortable training at and you feel like would further your career but ymmv everyone in law has diff opinions about this!
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Johnny ~
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(Original post by MonoAno555)
Year 12 student doing alevels rn and i was thinking about the best way to become a tax specialist in the field of law. If I go to uni after getting a law degree, i believe now you have to study the SQE now over about 2-3 years (as im applying in 2022) to fully qualify as a solicitor.

What i was wondering is how to specialize in tax specifically as I am not sure as to which of the top law firms practice it.

Also Im wondering about training contracts offered by accounting firms (mainly the KPMG one). Is this a good contract to pursue or are there better ones out there

Many thanks to anyone who can help answer
Take a look at the legal directories. They break it down by specialism and region. For example:
https://chambers.com/guide/uk?public...cationId=11805
https://www.legal500.com/c/london/co...corporate-tax/

I would strongly advise trying to specialise in tax or trying to plan a career in tax at your age. It's a love it or hate it area and it's very much not for everyone. It's also one of the harder seats to secure a seat in or qualify into because a) it's not that profitable, b) there isn't much demand for it compared to the usual transactional/project management seats, and c) it attracts the academic nerds who will no doubt be performing at a high level.

TCs offered by the legal arms of Big 4 are not seen as particularly desirable, and 'top' candidates seem to never bother applying to them. There are definitely better places to train. You should pick a firm based on its overall appeal to you, not just because it happens to be somewhat well-ranked in a single practice area.
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Johnny ~
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(Original post by chalbliagtelle)
ok perhaps for clarification for ops sake: in terms of legal prestige maybe not lmfao. if you're considering other areas of law aside from tax go to a commercial law firm. but imho 'solid choice' = somewhere you'd feel comfortable training at and you feel like would further your career but ymmv everyone in law has diff opinions about this!
It seems that I replied to the OP at the same time that you did

For what it's worth, I agree with Yakov. One would have to be a fool to turn down a firm like Macfarlanes for KPMG, EY, etc. In my limited experience, Macfarlanes is 'better'/higher ranked at more things and gets a lot of respect from recruiters and lawyers at other firms as a place to train. It's not unusual to see people depart from there to go to the usual elite US/MC suspects and to come back as senior associates or partners. It's also guaranteed to attract a brighter type of candidate.
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chalbliagtelle
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(Original post by Johnny ~)
It seems that I replied to the OP at the same time that you did

For what it's worth, I agree with Yakov. One would have to be a fool to turn down a firm like Macfarlanes for KPMG, EY, etc. In my limited experience, Macfarlanes is 'better'/higher ranked at more things and gets a lot of respect from recruiters and lawyers at other firms as a place to train. It's not unusual to see people depart from there to go to the usual elite US/MC suspects and to come back as senior associates or partners. It's also guaranteed to attract a brighter type of candidate.
thank you for the elaboration - i don't really know what recruiters see as the best firms to train at being very much a newbie to all this myself perhaps macfarlanes or bakers was not the ideal example to use since to my knowledge they're regarded as highly elite. but it might also be a product of my quite skewed perspective being someone whose first tc app cycle was the hell year that was 2020 so i think a lot of people in my cohort would consider/would have considered a tc at kpmg still pretty amazing!

just to add because this also came to my mind - i'm sure youre already considering it MonoAno555 but if you're solely interested in tax and are really focused on that and think having to do 18 months+ of non-tax seats in a law firm, it might be worth putting the idea of being a solicitor to one side for now and thinking about something like tax accountancy?? you've clearly done a lot of research into law but if you prefer the idea of being a tax specialist to being a lawyer, it might be more enjoyable for you to focus on that. bearing in mind during my entire law degree i think i've talked about taxes like... twice total and not something you'd be covering at least until the sqe so if you're not interested in law/commercial law in general you may find the pre-tc and tc process to an extent quite boring. but that's not to say you couldn't seek out opportunities to get involved with taxation in some way in a legal capacity on an extracurricular basis it just wouldn't be the main focus of your work until you're an NQ which, if you start uni in 2022 and assuming you got a tc in your second year, wouldn't be until at least 6 years later!
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MonoAno555
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Thanks. Ive highly considered getting into accountancy in all honesty, especially with the school leaver apprenticeships they have available. I know i would miss out on uni but i think it would definetly suit me in my current posistion in education. I absolutely to get into tax and am more towards accountacy but just considering other options for the time being.
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Johnny ~
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(Original post by chalbliagtelle)
thank you for the elaboration - i don't really know what recruiters see as the best firms to train at being very much a newbie to all this myself perhaps macfarlanes or bakers was not the ideal example to use since to my knowledge they're regarded as highly elite. but it might also be a product of my quite skewed perspective being someone whose first tc app cycle was the hell year that was 2020 so i think a lot of people in my cohort would consider/would have considered a tc at kpmg still pretty amazing!

just to add because this also came to my mind - i'm sure youre already considering it MonoAno555 but if you're solely interested in tax and are really focused on that and think having to do 18 months+ of non-tax seats in a law firm, it might be worth putting the idea of being a solicitor to one side for now and thinking about something like tax accountancy?? you've clearly done a lot of research into law but if you prefer the idea of being a tax specialist to being a lawyer, it might be more enjoyable for you to focus on that. bearing in mind during my entire law degree i think i've talked about taxes like... twice total and not something you'd be covering at least until the sqe so if you're not interested in law/commercial law in general you may find the pre-tc and tc process to an extent quite boring. but that's not to say you couldn't seek out opportunities to get involved with taxation in some way in a legal capacity on an extracurricular basis it just wouldn't be the main focus of your work until you're an NQ which, if you start uni in 2022 and assuming you got a tc in your second year, wouldn't be until at least 6 years later!
No problem - I do think it's especially unfortunate that you mentioned those two, given that they seem to have been awarded high ranks for their tax teams in particular!

The advice you gave was very sensible. I think that OP needs to get some real-life exposure to tax in practice before they make any further decisions. Even studying a tax module at uni would be a good starting point.
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