What Are Things That I Should Look for When Hiring a Tax Attorney?

I have a favorite saying in the office which I used with a number of my clients. It's called right person, right seat. So the important thing in any professional services relationship whether it's a tax attorney or a CPA or any other professional advisor is making sure you have the right person sitting in the right seat to do the right job. The problem with a lot of tax attorneys is a lot of tax attorneys focus on federal issues and they focus on a very limited scope of federal issues. The reason for that is a lot of the traditional tax litigation appears in a judicial setting. So when you're interviewing a tax attorney and they mentioned they go to court a lot that should be a sign that perhaps this person may or may not be

the right fit for you. So in contrast our firm really lives in the administrative world. We can go into court, we have gone into court, we do go into court but for a lot of our clients, the judicial process (particularly for California state tax issues) is not the appropriate one. Litigation is time-consuming and expensive and there often aren't any winners in litigation. So the route that we've chosen to take as a firm is more about the administrative process. It's about cost-benefit, it's about providing value for our clients and it's about minimizing their risk by getting them out of their tax problem in the earliest possible situation. So that's what our firm really is built on. Our firm is built on providing efficiency, providing value and maximizing the effort that we're putting in to get the best result for our clients. Not all tax firms think like that so I think that's one thing that clients need to look at with educating themselves on a tax law firm. The other thing I think is really important is every business is a reflection of how they run themselves and how they govern themselves so when interviewing a professional, I think you need to be on the lookout for the way that they interact with their staff, the way that the team works together, the level of communicate that you get coming out of the firm and I think those are all core guideposts for how the attorney-client relationship is going to go. The last thing I would recommend you look for is fit. Some people are better fits with other people, then some people are better fits with different groups so you want to find the person that you feel comfortable with and who's going to interact with you. You're looking for somebody who's going to be an advocate for you, someone who's going to express leadership, someone who's going to get you organized and someone who's going to be able to execute effectively on your behalf and you'll get that sense in talking with somebody and you also get some sense on whether the personality you're dealing with is an appropriate match for your style and your business. One of the reasons I'm very vocal and one of the reasons I put our culture out there as a firm is because I want people to get to know us even before they speak to us. I want people to have the comfort and the familiarity with our firm and the way that we do things and a lot of the values that we espouse in our website, our videos, our written materials so even talking about their matter, it's about a personality fit. It's about a leadership fit and ultimately it's that fit that really makes a successful client relationship. So those are the things that I would point to when looking for a professional advisor that I think are going to make the most impact for you in your search.


Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law