Litigation boutiques are getting interested in tax. Last year Graham Aaronson and Joe Hage formed a boutique firm focused on high value tax disputes. Today, The Lawyer reports that Stewarts Law will be launching a tax litigation arm by November of this year.
Whoever will be spearheading this new venture must already have been appointed and will be on gardening leave at the moment. If anyone has a clue please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will dig further.
Barrie Akin, formerly of Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers, has joined the fast-growing tax group at Devereux Chambers.
Formerly an accountant, Barrie Akin has been in practice at the tax bar since 1996. His work covers the range of direct and indirect taxes.
Commenting on Barrie Akin’s arrival Timothy Brennan QC, the elected head of Devereux Chambers, said “It is a pleasure for these chambers to welcome another excellent tax practitioner, adding to our strength in core areas. We recruit extremely able practitioners against objective criteria, and the success of this practice is obvious.”
The highly regarded Devereux tax team has recently been bolstered by the recruitment of Felicity Cullen QC from Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers, and Jolyon Maugham from 11 New Square.
Speaking about joining Devereux Chambers, Barrie Akin said “I welcome the opportunity to join chambers which cover all areas of taxation and offer excellent client service”.
On the advisory side, he assists both corporate and personal clients on a wide range of issues. For example, he has recently advised a liquidator on complex corporation tax issues arising out of post-cessation receipts and has advised executors on the optimum strategy for securing Inheritance Tax reliefs for a complex high value estate with unusual features.
The disputes side of his practice involves him in all aspects of tax litigation, including advising on strategy and tactics, the drafting of correspondence and pleadings, settlement negotiations and appearing before the Tax Tribunals and the courts.
Some notable cases in which he has appeared are:
Wiltonpark Limited v. HMRC – First-tier Tribunal (Tax) – 23 January 2014
HMRC v. Charman  EWHC 1448 (Fam) – High Court (Family Division)
1st Contact Limited v. HMRC First-tier Tribunal (Tax) – 25 January 2012
Datapoint Global Services v. HMRC First-tier Tribunal (Tax) 9 April 2009
Morgan and Self v. HMRC  UKFTT 78 (TC) First-tier Tribunal (Tax)
Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs v. Total UK Limited  EWCA Civ 987 – Court of Appeal
Crispin Mark Taylor (HMIT) v. MEPC Holdings Limited  UKHL 70 – House of Lords
Greycon Limited v. Klaentschi (HMIT) – Special Commissioners – 15 July 2003
Toronto-Dominion Bank v. Oberoi  All ER (D) 313 High Court (Chancery Division)
Pawlowski (Collector of Taxes) v. Dunnington –  STC 550 Court of Appeal
Withers London has hired Tessa Lorimer to strengthen its tax disputes and investigation practice. She joins as Special Counsel.
Tessa is a barrister who specialises in both civil and criminal tax fraud investigations and litigation conducted by the Special Investigation and Criminal Investigation departments of HMRC. Tessa has extensive experience in advising the Board of the former Inland Revenue and HMRC in relation to their most complex direct and indirect tax investigations and prosecutions.
Most of Tessa’s work is international in nature and she has considerable experience of mutual legal assistance, extradition, search warrants, judicial review, injunctions, SOCPA production orders and legal professional privilege issues. Tessa has also advised SOCA, HMRC and the SCDEA on sensitive cases involving money laundering and organised crime as well as strategic export control and regulatory offences.
Tessa comments, “Withers has a first-class reputation for assisting clients in regulatory investigations and the international reach of the team is a great platform for me to build my practice around the world. I look forward to putting my experience of working within and across from the tax authorities into effect at Withers.”
Tessa started her career with the CPS and spent 12 years as a Senior Lawyer based in the Thames Vallet. In 2001 she joined the Inland Revenue Solicitor’s Office and spent 4 years as a senior tax lawyer. In 2005 she moved across to the Revenue & Customs Prosecutions Office as a senior tax fraud prosecutor before returning to the CPS in a similar role. In 2012 she moved into practice and worked as a barrister with GSC Solicitors in London.
Daniel Rosen has joined Baker & McKenzie’s Global Tax Practice as partner, boosting the Firm’s capabilities representing multinational clients in tax controversies and litigation matters.
“During his 16-year career with the IRS, Dan was responsible for litigating some of the largest and most complex cases before the United States Tax Court,” said Thomas Linguanti, chair of the Firm’s North America Tax Practice. “His significant trial experience and governmental insight will be invaluable to our clients. We are fortunate that Dan has decided to join us and couldn’t be more pleased to welcome him to the Firm.”
As a special trial attorney with the Internal Revenue Service, Office of Chief Counsel, Mr. Rosen gained considerable trial experience litigating dozens of cases over a 16-year span. During his career, he worked closely with the US Department of Justice, Tax Division on several major cases and advised IRS Large Business and International Division executives, managers, and examiners on tax controversy matters, including settlement initiatives. In addition to his courtroom experience, Mr. Rosen has substantial knowledge of alternative dispute resolution processes and techniques.
“Dan’s experience both in the courtroom and with alternative dispute resolution forums will be a great asset to our clients and complements the Firm’s leading team of tax controversy attorneys,” said James Colihan, managing partner of the Firm’s New York office.
Baker & McKenzie’s Global Tax Practice Group is one of the most highly rated and recommended among law firms worldwide. With a team of more than 850 tax practitioners, economists and financial analysts in 47 countries, the practice provides a strong network of tax professionals offering complete tax planning and dispute resolution services to multinational corporations. In North America, the tax practice was recently recognized by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers as the 2014 “Tax Law Firm of the Year” and by Law360 in its inaugural listing of “Tax Practice Groups of the Year.”
Mr. Rosen is the latest in a series of partners to join the Tax Practice in North America. Earlier this year, Alex Pankratz and Peter Clark joined the Firm in Toronto and Marc Kushner joined the Firm in Chicago.
“Baker & McKenzie has an unsurpassed reputation in the tax controversy and litigation area,” said Mr. Rosen. “I am delighted to join the Firm and look forward to working with my colleagues around the world.”
Mr. Rosen was a key participant in the drafting of published guidance and administrative directives involving judicial doctrines for the IRS Large Business and International Division. While at the IRS, he was awarded the Treasury Legal Division Research and Writing Award, the National Outstanding Litigator Award, the National Litigation Team Award, and the Commissioner’s Award.
Mr. Rosen is a recognized and frequent speaker on a wide variety of domestic and international tax issues, including for George Washington University School of Law, the Practising Law Institute, Tax Executives Institute (“TEI”), and the American Bar Association. Additionally, Mr. Rosen is an adjunct professor of law at New York Law School. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Hofstra University in 1991 and his JD in 1996 from Hofstra University School of Law, where he served on the Editorial Board of the Hofstra Law Review.
Sidley Austin LLP announced that Matthew D. Lerner has joined the firm’s Washington, D.C. office as a partner and a co-global coordinator of the Tax Controversy practice.
Mr. Lerner has nearly 30 years of experience practicing in the area of federal taxation, with substantial experience in civil and criminal tax controversies and civil litigation related to tax strategies, as well as business planning and advice. His experience broadly covers all stages of the Internal Revenue Service’s administrative audit and appeals processes, as well as litigation in Tax Court, the Court of Federal Claims and federal district courts. He is experienced in handling tax controversies for corporations, partnerships and individuals, and has significant experience with many of the IRS alternative dispute resolution procedures. He also regularly advises on pre-audit issues regarding document organization, retention practices and disclosure obligations. Mr. Lerner also handles state and local tax controversies.
Mr. Lerner has been recognized for his accomplishments and is nationally ranked inChambers USA and America’s Leading Business Lawyers. He regularly publishes on tax issues and is a frequent speaker at tax conferences, including the prestigious Tax Executive Institute.
“I have known Matt professionally and personally for many years,” said Jay Zimbler, global coordinator of Sidley’s Tax Controversy practice. “He has a broad range of experience and deep understanding of tax controversy issues, as well as high intellect and integrity. We are excited that he has joined our team of lawyers providing counsel to clients in federal and state tax disputes nationwide.”
“Matt’s depth of knowledge on various tax issues and litigation skills will be a valuable asset to our clients and an excellent complement to the firm’s global practice,” said Mark Hopson, managing partner of Sidley’s Washington, D.C. office and member of the firm’s Management Committee. “We look forward to working with Matt to serve our clients.”
Mr. Lerner was ranked by Chambers USA in 2012 and 2013 for America’s Leading Business Lawyers, Tax Controversy: Nationwide. The Best Lawyers of America recognized Mr. Lerner in 2012, 2013 and 2014 for Tax Litigation and Controversy. Additionally, Legal 500 US 2013 recommended Mr. Lerner for Tax: Controversy and Domestic Tax: East Coast.
alliantgroup has announced the appointment of Kathy Petronchak, former IRS Commissioner of Small Business/Self- Employed Division (SB/SE), as the firm’s Director of IRS Dispute Resolution. Petronchak brings with her 34 years of experience in directing IRS compliance activities and providing tax controversy services. In her new role, Petronchak will be reaching out to CPAs and American businesses, helping alliantgroup’s clients navigate IRS procedures and the U.S. tax code.
“I am excited for the opportunity to join this exceptional team,” Petronchak said. “I am looking forward to serving as an advisor for our clients and in helping CPAs and U.S. businesses better understand the options available to them in resolving disputes with the IRS.”
In a career that includes service within both the federal government and the private sector, Petronchak has worked with a countless number of businesses in examination from both the government’s perspective and in the position of audit defense. In her 29 years with the IRS, she has held a number of roles within the Service, including her time as IRS Commissioner of SB/SE from 2006-2008, a role in which she worked directly with small and mid-sized businesses and practitioners on compliance with IRS standards. She was also appointed Chief of Staff under former IRS Commissioner and current alliantgroup Vice Chairman,Mark W. Everson, and was highly praised for the leadership she brought to this position.
“It is a privilege to be working again with Kathy Petronchak,” Everson said. “The judgment Kathy brings from her extensive experience across different IRS operations will be a real asset to alliantgroup and the businesses we serve.”
Petronchak has served as the Chair of the AICPA IRS Practice and Procedures Committee and currently serves as the immediate past chair. She has also been a frequent speaker for AICPA tax controversy conference events. Most recently, Petronchak was a Director at Deloitte Tax LLP, where she specialized in the area of tax controversy services, providing support for clients in their issues with the IRS. In her new role, Petronchak will be advising businesses of all sizes in their dealings with the Service, helping them identify options for resolving disputes.
“I am thrilled to have Kathy join our team here at alliantgroup,” said alliantgroup COO Shane T. Frank. “Her experience with the IRS and knowledge of the Service’s standards will serve our clients well in navigating IRS waters.”
Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP has announced that David B. Massey, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has joined the firm’s New York office as a partner.
Mr. Massey joins the firm following a distinguished career in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan from 2004 to 2013. As a member of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force, he represented the United States in numerous high profile criminal cases, including the insider trading prosecutions of Joseph Skowron, Rengan Rajaratnam, and John Kinnucan. Mr. Massey also led the prosecution of the Swiss bank Wegelin & Co., the first-ever indictment and guilty plea of a foreign bank for tax fraud, and he led the negotiation of a non-prosecution agreement with Liechtensteinische Landesbank, an agreement that included a change in Liechtenstein law that effectively ended bank secrecy there for U.S. taxpayers. In 2010-2011 and 2013, as Acting Tax Coordinator, Mr. Massey managed the Office’s criminal tax program and authorized indictments and plea dispositions in criminal tax cases.
Lee Richards, a founding partner of Richards Kibbe & Orbe said “David has done extraordinary work in prosecuting securities and tax fraud cases, and he understands these issues as well as anyone in New York. We’re very pleased to add an attorney with such deep expertise, exceptional trial experience, and proven leadership abilities. David will play an important role in delivering results for clients that look to us for advice and representation in complex securities, tax, and white collar matters and investigations on both the criminal and civil side.”
“I’m thrilled to join a firm that is so highly regarded for its work in securities enforcement and white collar defense work,” said Mr. Massey. “I was drawn to RK&O in part because the litigation work they do is a great fit with my experience as Assistant U.S. Attorney. It’s also an opportunity to work with a group of highly skilled and entrepreneurial attorneys, a number of whom share my background as a former prosecutor.”
At RK&O, Mr. Massey will focus on securities enforcement, white collar criminal defense, government and internal investigations and civil litigation. He will counsel individual and corporate clients in a range of complex issues, including SEC enforcement actions and grand jury investigations.
Mr. Massey was also formerly an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and a law clerk for the Honorable Pierre N. Leval of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He received a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was Symposium Editor of the Yale Law Journal, an M. Phil in International Relations from Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar, and a B.A., summa cum laude, from Yale College (Phi Beta Kappa)
Steptoe & Johnson LLP has announced that Rob Kovacev, a former senior litigation counsel in the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Tax Division, has joined the firm as a partner. Mr. Kovacev’s arrival continues the expansion of Steptoe’s Tax Group, which welcomed partner Bob Rizzi in October.
As senior litigation counsel in the DOJ’s Tax Division, Mr. Kovacev litigated high-profile civil tax cases and developed substantial trial experience. He was lead trial counsel in several complex tax cases involving cross-border transactions, Section 482 disputes, claims for research credits and foreign tax credits, corporate reorganizations and acquisitions, and valuation of pharmaceutical patents and other intellectual property. The amounts at issue in each of these cases ranged from $10 million to more than $1 billion in claimed tax benefits. Mr. Kovacev was also lead counsel in several summons enforcement matters of the highest priority to the IRS.
While at the DOJ, Mr. Kovacev gained particular experience regarding the IRS’s use of the economic substance, substance over form, and sham partnership doctrines to disallow the tax benefits of transactions that comply with the technical requirements of the tax code. For example, Mr. Kovacev was lead trial counsel for the United States in AWG Leasing, involving a cross-border leveraged leasing transaction. The court in AWG Leasing disallowed over $100 million in tax benefits from that transaction, and sustained the IRS’s determination of penalties against the taxpayer. Mr. Kovacev was also on the trial team for the Southgate Master Fundcase, in which the court disallowed more than $1 billion in tax benefits arising from a distressed debt transaction based on the court’s interpretation of the sham partnership doctrine.
In welcoming Mr. Kovacev to Steptoe, firm Chair Roger Warin commented: “Our tax controversy practice has been a mainstay of our Tax Group for decades. Rob will help bolster the next generation of lead tax controversy partners with a smart, effective, well-credentialed tax litigator who has first-chair trial experience in significant cases.”
Steptoe’s Tax Controversy practice includes experienced litigators who have served as Justice Department trial and appellate attorneys, judicial law clerks, and Treasury officials. The practice combines trial-tested litigation skills with up-to-date substantive tax experience. Steptoe’s highly regarded tax group has earned top rankings and recommendations from the prestigious legal directories Chambers USA and The Legal 500, among other publications.
“Steptoe’s tax practice has a superb reputation, and I’m delighted to be a part of it,” said Mr. Kovacev. “As the IRS and DOJ Tax Division deploy tax shelter tools against transactions that are not generally considered abusive tax shelters, unwary taxpayers will be caught surprised. I look forward to using the experience I gained as a DOJ tax litigator to help taxpayers meet the challenges they will face in this new environment.”
Mr. Kovacev won several awards for his work at the DOJ Tax Division, including the John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation, the Tax Division’s Outstanding Attorney award (three times), and the Mitchell Rogovin Award, the IRS’s award for outstanding support to the Office of Chief Counsel.
A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, Mr. Kovacev earned his J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Columbia Law Review, a Kent Scholar and a Stone Scholar. He clerked for the Honorable M. Blane Michael on the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and worked in private practice before joining the government in 2006.