Transitioning from biglaw to IRS Chief Counsel?

Hi all, has anyone here transitioned to Chief Counsel from biglaw? What was your experience like? When did you transition? Any tips or general comments?

Current jr. associate. Love tax, not loving biglaw. Have an llm. Looking to transition in the next few years (or earlier if possible).

Thanks for any help.

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OP, you should probably go to Ivins, Caplin & Drysdale or Miller & Chevalier if you hate biglaw but love tax. You can still get Chief Counsel from those three firms, and it’ll help you exit biglaw quicker.

likesmarthelpful

Agree with this. I would throw in Roberts & Holland.

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I started my career in Chief Counsel and loved it. Possibly looking to go back.

Also looking at IRS Appeals and Treasury.

Wish IRS/Treasury paid like SEC/FDIC/Fed Reserve.

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You can look up how to map to your grade/step level. It is the GS pay scale.

It's not horrible, but it's definitely not why you go.

GS-14 is where a lot of positions end. I think you need 3-4 years experience to qualify for GS-14, then the steps are based on years or your external pay. So it is possible to come in as GS-14, Step 10 and leapfrog over people that have more experience (happened a lot when I was there). So, just as that example, GS-14-10 is probably around 165-170 in most markets, I think. But it only goes up by COLA after that unless you can get into a rare GS-15 or SES (executive leadership) position.

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It can be difficult to get in even with the right connections. Be patient, it took them 9 months to get back to me even after knowing 2 branch chiefs, then they said they were passing on me. (I had 1 year in tax at a 250 attorney firm and a GU tax LLM). Given their significant backload and issues, you’d think they would ramp up hiring these days - good luck!

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It can take anywhere from a week to a couple months. I wouldn't be discouraged if you don't hear back right away!

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I came in from big4. Way less hours but way less technology. It took me 2 months to get an offer from interview. I took a little pay cut. Still deciding if I like it because it’s so different from my old role. I don’t hate it?

likefunny

If you get an interview be sure to say that you want to work for the government and that it is basically your dream job.

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Never did private practice (came in as an honors hire), but I’m at Chief Counsel. I think it’s a great job. You get all the interesting tax questions but without the clients, billing, or long, unpredictable hours. Timing a transition in from private practice can be tricky because job availability is less tied to agency need than it is to the whims of Congress, but there’s a pretty significant hiring push happening now.

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Chief counsel currently allows up to 4 days per week telework as part of a pilot program, but there’s a great chance that it will stay with the next union negotiation in January

helpful

They have weirdly strict timelines, so do make sure you’re cognizant of all that.

They only hire newly graduates from this new graduate program they have with my school. The next level or tier they hire is 3rd years, but I believe your LLM counts as 1 year of experience. On top of that, they only hire at certain periods of the year. When I was interested back in March, my school’s IRS ambassador told me they wouldn’t hire until July.

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I heard Treasury is notoriously hard to get into as compared with Office of Chief Counsel unless you’ve had 7-8 years of experience. Has this been your experience?

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If I were rich this is what I’d do too. Or any of the boutiques mentioned above.

But students loans, mortgage, kids, both parents to support, I’m biglaw for the long-haul unless I win the lottery 🤣

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Are there any opportunities to go to government in NYC? I’m tied here because of family but would love an exit

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Chief Counsel has field offices all over the country, but those offices only do tax court lit. The advisory and regulatory work is 100% in DC.

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