JD/Tax LLM Graduate Applies Lessons from Summer Tax Intensive to Corporate Practice
Before going to law school, David van den Berg ’22 would have never imagined contributing to the legal framework behind Apollo Global Management’s $5 billion acquisition of Verizon Media Group, which involved structuring an international partnership agreement and negotiating complex financial terms. He credits his involvement on this project to joining Loyola Law School’s Summer Tax Intensive, a component of the joint JD/Tax LLM, which prepared him for a seat at the table to this once-in-a-lifetime assignment.
“As a requirement of completing the Tax LLM during law school, you must spend your first-year summer doing the Summer Intensive Program,” said van den Berg, who plans to join Kirkland & Ellis as a first-year associate this fall. “It is a lot of work, but it completely prepares you for the job that you're going to be doing as a functioning attorney.” That preparation is what differentiated him during his pursuit of an associate position and enabled him to succeed in that first taste of corporate law.
“I knew that I wanted to go into corporate law,” he said. “ I think no matter what you do in corporate law, having a tax background is beneficial as you are informed of the issues you may encounter, tipping you off to the questions you need to ask when you are dealing with clients directly and when you're having conversations with your supervising attorney.”
After kicking around ideas of what to select as a first-year elective, and considering the advice of his grandfather, a former attorney, van den Berg chose to take Federal Income Tax with Professor Katherine Pratt, putting in motion a sequence of events that would inspire him to pursue a Tax LLM.
“I found tax to be an incredibly fascinating area of the law, and I really enjoyed getting to know Loyola’s tax law community,” he said. “From Professor Pratt to Professor Theodore Seto, who are both integral parts of the Tax Program, I was hooked.”
Since the study of tax law is heavy in statute interpretation, the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and the regulations that are promulgated to explain it, van den Berg found himself well-equipped for his other coursework at LLS with a strong statutory base. “The kind of work and preparation that I did in studying tax and learning how to navigate especially dense language paid off, making classes like Securities Regulation, Criminal Law, and to some extent Mergers and Acquisitions, easier to follow.”
While visiting LLS as a prospective student, van den Berg found the community to be supportive and helpful. He witnessed the students he was assigned to shadow for the day be more than willing to invest time with one another to understand issues and collaboratively work through problems.
“Professors that I talked to were also very accessible,” van den Berg added. “They made a point of seeing students who came to their office hours and connecting with them whenever they could. I got the impression that Loyola was an institution heavily invested in seeing all its students succeed.”
That collaborative atmosphere has proved invaluable as van den Berg is now part of the active and respected community of LLS alumni in the California legal community. His law tax knowledge base made it clear to prospective employers that he was prepared to hit the ground running faster than other graduates who would need another three years of training to reach his level.
“The difficulty of the work creates an atmosphere of camaraderie as you come together to rise to the challenge,” he said. “Because you are in classes with the same people over and over, you’re studying with the same people, and you share the same schedule, you build a close community. Those kinds of bonds are the ones that last into professional life.”
He credits the numerous LLS alumni working at the Kirkland & Ellis offices in Los Angeles as being some of the first practitioners to offer him mentorship and networking opportunities. “The chance to meet fellow Loyola graduates and establish a network as a summer associate was influential in me receiving a an offer and where I will begin my career this fall,” He said.