Practical Knowledge of Joint JD/Tax LLM Gives Alum Advantage
Pedro Miranda Lopez spent his second summer as a Loyola Law School, Los Angeles student working in the international tax division of accounting giant BDO USA, LLP. When he returned to campus in the fall, he took an International Taxation class, and everything he’d done over the summer fell into place.
“I spent the summer practicing international taxation,” he said. “As soon as I returned to campus, what we were learning in class was directly applicable.”
That is still true for him now that he is an associate in the International Tax Services Group at BDO USA: What he learned at Loyola is directly applicable to his work. “The cases we read in class as students come up all the time in my professional life,” he said.
For instance, in the classroom Lopez learned factors to determine whether certain related-party corporate interests should be treated as stock or debt for federal tax purposes. Six months ago, he wrote a memo on the topic for a client. Another example is the recurring challenge in tax law of how to classify and tax digital transactions that take place “in the cloud.” Lopez was prepared for the issue because he’d taken Tax Strategies for the Digital Age.
Lopez graduated in 2015 from Loyola’s unique Joint JD/Tax LLM Program, which allows students to obtain both degrees in just three years. It is the only program of its kind in the country. “I figured out early on that I really enjoyed tax law and was good at it,” he said.
Still, he conscientiously tested out other areas of law through the school’s many practical skills offerings. He worked in the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Immigration Legal Assistance Project, interned with the State of California Department of Justice and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. He also held an externship with a federal bankruptcy judge and participated in activities with the Mexican-American Bar Association and the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
Through it all, Lopez remained focused on tax law, citing in part the inspiration he received from a tax class he took his first semester taught by Professor Ellen P. Aprill, the John E. Anderson Chair in Tax Law.
Then there was his “fantastic international tax professor,” Adjunct Professor Alexander Lee, a partner with Paul Hastings LLP. “Prof. Lee just made international tax seem really cool,” Lopez said. “That’s something that is difficult to do.”
And Lopez says he owes his job to Professor Jennifer Kowal, the chair of the Tax LLM Program, who told him about the opening at BDO USA, LLP. “That isn’t rare at Loyola,” said Lopez. “Several of my friends obtained their positions because of their professors. Loyola faculty are active and engaged in the fields in which they work, and they care about teaching, and that combination definitely benefits the students.”
Be practice ready with a degree from Loyola. Find out more about the Tax program today.