For KPMG Exec, Tax LLM Program Mirrored Real World
There are few differences between the work Daniel Whipple ’17 sees every day as a tax professional at the Big Four accounting firm KPMG and the work he did as a student in Loyola’s Tax LLM Program.
“Our assignments taught us real-life skills,” says Whipple, who in class worked with a team of students asked to make recommendations to a hypothetical client eager to sell a product abroad. “In addition to lectures, these assignments were more interesting and useful than lectures alone because you saw the actual problems a client would face.”
Students in Whipple’s Tax Law Practicum class worked on the hypothetical purchase and sale of a business. They analyzed the tax-planning issues, negotiated and documented the deal’s tax provisions, created a spreadsheet, wrote a memo about the deal and presented it to a fictional partner. “The practicum is designed to be like working in a law firm,” he said. “It’s almost the same as what we do here at KPMG.”
Both as an undergraduate and a law student, Whipple concentrated on finance. He served as an editor of George Washington University Law School’s Forum on Law, Economics & Finance, Additionally, he interned with a large law firm, the Securities and Exchange Commission and an Orange County bank. However, deep into his law school career, he realized he liked tax law best. “Tax was the only course I actually wanted to study for,” he says.
In 2015 when he moved to Orange County, Whipple started researching Master of Laws programs in tax to transition his legal career. “Loyola really jumped out at me because the professors really had great reputations,” Whipple says. “The courses they offered stood out as the courses I wanted to take.”
“The students were very open and helpful. I felt at home when I joined the program.”
Another person who welcomed him was the director of the Tax LLM Program, Associate Clinical Professor Jennifer M. Kowal, who teaches the Tax Law Practicum. Kowal meets with every Tax LLM student one-on-one to find ways she can help them in the program — and in the Southern California tax law job market.
“Prof. Kowal is very student-oriented and one of the greatest resources I’ve had in my education,” he said. “She really knows the market and who the people are in it.”
Kowal pointed Whipple to his first tax law position in the area, a summer internship at Ingram Micro in Irvine. She encouraged him and other tax students to consider jobs with accounting firms, such as KPMG, as well as with law firms.
Prior to joining KPMG, Whipple worked in the international tax group at Deloitte. it was an alumnus and adjunct professor, Gregory Seto, who brought Whipple to Deloitte. Seto — who also graduated from Loyola’s Tax LLM Program — taught Whipple’s International Taxation II class and is a senior tax consultant at Deloitte. When Whipple expressed interest in international tax, Seto passed his résumé on to a Deloitte recruiter. Whipple joined Deloitte after graduation on the same international tax team as Seto.
“Loyola has fulfilled what I wanted,” Whipple said. “My No. 1 goal has been to create a successful tax career, and I’ve accomplished that.”