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Friday, June 27, 2014

Heather M. Field Reappointed to Bion Gregory Chair in Business Law

Field's scholarship delves deeply into fundamental notions of what it means to be a tax lawyer.

Heather M. FieldAssociate Academic Dean Heather M. Field has been reappointed to the UC Hastings Bion Gregory Chair in Business Law. Field will hold the Chair, which was created in 2012, for another two-year term beginning July 1, 2014.

Field’s most recent article published while holding the Chair is The Real Problem with Carried Interests, 65 Hast L.J. 405 (2014). Since its publication, the article has been on the list of Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads for five consecutive weeks, where it was up to the #2 spot most recently. It has been downloaded 234 times so far as of this writing.

A longer, ongoing project for Field is entitled Aggressive Tax Planning & the Ethical Tax Lawyer, which delves deeply into the fundamental notion of what it means to be a tax lawyer. She has presented it several times already, and will present it again in the coming year. The project seeks to reconcile (a) the public commentary and academic literature that condemn tax “loopholes,” taxpayers who use them, and the lawyers who assist those taxpayers, with (b) the fact that one of the core functions of a tax planner is to help her client achieve non-tax economic objectives in a manner that minimizes the client’s tax burden.

The paper draws on both the extensive literature on lawyering and professionalism and on the social science literature about factors that contribute to biased decision-making and unintentional lapses in judgment, in order to answer the following question: How should a tax planner, who wants to engage in “permissible tax planning” but not cross the line over into “unethical loophole lawyering,” exercise her discretion and judgment when advising clients? 

Ultimately, the paper will help each tax planner operationalize, on an individual basis and in a way that aligns with her values, both the general and tax-specific rules of professional conduct.

Field says she is delighted and honored to be reappointed to the Chair, endowed by Bion Gregory '68, the longest serving Legislative Counsel in California history. For 25 years, Gregory led an office that provided legal opinions to the California Senate and Assembly. He was a partner in private practice at Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott in Sacramento at the time of his death in 2004, at age 64, and endowed the chair in his estate plan.

“I have had the honor of meeting with Mrs. Gregory and several other members of the Gregory family,” says Field. “I particularly enjoyed getting to know Mrs. Gregory and learning more about Bion Gregory and his career. Ultimately, I hope that my scholarly work is a credit to the Gregory family.”

Associate Academic Dean Heather M. Field

Heather M. Field graduated from University of California, Los Angeles, BS Biochemistry (1997) and Harvard Law School, JD (2000). She joined the UC Hastings faculty in 2006, following six years of practice as a tax lawyer at Latham & Watkins LLP in Los Angeles. Her practice focused on the federal taxation of corporations and partnerships and involved advising clients on the tax aspects of mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, restructurings, joint ventures, securities offerings, financial products, and structured finance transactions. Field teaches courses in taxation, and her research interests include tax elections, the role of choice in the tax law, and the effect of tax law on businesses and on business transactions. She has served as Associate Academic Dean since 2013.

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