Joseph Kellogg LL.M. '10, Wealth Planning Executive and President of STEP in Miami, spoke with students about his experience in the program. (Photo: Catharine Skipp/Miami Law)
An Open House held last week to promote Miami Law's LL.M. in Taxation and launch its new LL.M. in Taxation of Cross-Border Investment program drew an impressive number of practitioners and law students to the 44th floor of Greenberg Traurig's spectacular headquarters in Miami.
The new degree was proposed in response to South Florida's emergence as one of the world's leading centers of international tax planning and asset management. Claudia Low, Regional Tax Manager for the Americas Region of UPS, attended the event to learn about all the tax program's offerings. "I need a Tax LL.M. degree right now because of the work I'm doing," she said. "It would increase my knowledge. Also, my certifications are all from abroad; a degree from UM would give me more credibility in the U.S."
Patricia A. Brown, Director of Miami Law's LL.M. program and an internationally recognized expert in international taxation of financial products and institutions and tax treaty policy, discussed the program, the new degree, and the benefits of studying advanced tax in Miami. "Being in Miami is a fabulous opportunity even outside the program," she said. "Students in our programs are able to attend monthly lunch meetings offered by the Florida Bar Tax Section New Lawyers Committee. ABA's meetings, wherever they take place, are free to law students, and our students also go to the Society of Trusts and Estate Professional lunches. And it is particularly handy that the ABA's Latin American Tax Planning Conference takes place every year in Miami."
"Miami is very unique in that it is the hub of Latin American private banking," said Joseph Kellogg, LL.M. '10, Wealth Planning Executive for WE Family Offices, President of STEP in Miami, and a graduate of Miami Law's LL.M. in Taxation program. "There are a huge number of international banks all along Brickell Avenue with high-net worth individuals from all over Latin America."
Kellogg assessed the value of a Tax LL.M. for professionals involved in wealth management and discussed how those professionals can pursue a degree on a part-time basis. "It is a tremendous opportunity for lawyers to exploit all the things this program offers as the practice is coming to an apex now," he said.
Several courses in both programs are taught by both U.S. and non-U.S. tax lawyers to show the real-world dynamics of problem solving when multiple jurisdictions are involved. Specialized courses such as "Representing the Private Client/High-Net-Worth Individuals" cover the intricacies of high-level international tax planning and asset management, including concepts of Residence for U.S. Income Tax Purposes, U.S. Transfer Tax Considerations for the International Private Client Advisor as well as Advising Nonresidents with Active Investments in the U.S.
Gennette Faust, LL.M. '12, an associate at Greenberg Traurig, talked about how the Tax LL.M. program prepared her for a typical international tax practice in Miami that represents high net-worth individuals. "There are different practitioners lecturing for every class," she said. "It allowed me to learn what they do on a daily basis and see it from a number of different points of practice."
The new, cutting-edge degree will benefit foreign lawyers who have a solid foundation in their own domestic tax system and who are a few years out of law school; lawyers who are practicing, or intend to practice, in or with Latin American nations in order to develop the niche market of structuring investments in and by Latin America; and non-U.S. lawyers who feel ready to delve into a more sophisticated tax practice and are looking to understand enough U.S. tax law to work well with U.S. tax lawyers.
Fabio Concesi, a wealth planner for Latin American clients at Cititrust International, said the new LL.M. program is a natural for him. "The Cross-Border Investment is an appropriate course for me because I work with high-net worth individuals from Latin America," he said.
The new degree complements what were already strong international offerings in Miami Law's Tax LL.M. for U.S. lawyers. Both Tax LL.M. programs prepare graduates to be smart tax lawyers with the tax sense to resolve problems with confidence. Miami Law's programs pride themselves on the understanding that there is a continent south of Miami full of opportunities for the tax lawyer who loves to solve tough problems and learn how a good plan has to work in every country where their clients do business.
"I like the idea of going to a campus," said Low, the UPS tax manager. "Also I love having access to a library."