Career Paths: Katie Gallagher ’22L After graduation, Gallagher is headed to New York to work in the state and local tax group at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Katie Gallagher ‘22L is from Merrick, New York. She received a B.A. in Economics from SUNY Stony Brook prior to studying law at Washington and Lee. Katie interned with the Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley during her 1L summer, and with the Community Tax Law Project during her 2L summer. As a 3L, she was a student in Washington and Lee’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.
Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area?
After graduation, I will be working at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) in New York, in the State and Local Tax group.
Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to work in this field?
Not at all! I had only just decided to pursue law in my senior year of undergrad, so I didn’t really have much idea of what fields of law existed, let alone which I would enjoy. I wound up taking a pretty wide range of classes in order to narrow my interests down.
What role did the size and location of the firm play in the search and decision process?
What drew me most to PwC was that it was large but not a law firm. I liked the idea of working for a larger employer, with the guidance and stability that would entail. However, I knew that Big Law would not be a good fit for me (because of both my personality and my grades). Thankfully as someone looking to specialize in tax, I had a broader range of options available than I might have otherwise. Working for a big accounting firm seemed like a happy medium, where I would have the structure that I wanted, but also the quality of life. Location was less important to me, though I am happy to be returning home to New York!
Was there anything in your law school or summer job experience that confirmed this career choice?
During my first summer internship, one of the attorneys told me to take Federal Income Taxation of Individuals, as it is important to understand what tax consequences might stem from a particular course of action regardless of what field of law you pursue. I went into the course expecting it to be useful, if a little dry. Much to my surprise, by the time the first week of the course was done, I was hooked and knew this was what I wanted to spend my career doing. I spent my 2L summer with the Community Tax Law Project in Richmond, and that experience confirmed my interest. I sought out more tax opportunities in my 3L year, as part of the Tax Clinic and taking Tax of Partnerships and LLCs.
What classes do you think are helpful to prepare for this job?
I think the Tax Clinic has been really helpful. It wasn’t possible to take any courses that substantively address the type of work I will being doing in State and Local Tax, but I know the skillset I’ve built communicating and working directly with clients in the clinic will be helpful and will translate well.
Can you describe the job search process?
My 1L and 2L summer job hunts were fairly difficult, and I did not find jobs until late in the spring. I went into my post-grad job hunt expecting it to be similar, so I started applying to a broad range of tax related openings pretty early. After talking with Dean Jarrett at OCS (Office of Career Strategy), I realized my hesitation over networking during my 1L and 2L searches had limited me, so I changed tactics in my 3L year. I started cold emailing firms in markets of interest to me, and I stepped up my networking efforts with both W&L alumni and personal connections. Ultimately, I spoke to a cousin’s friend at PwC in October of my 3L year, and he recommended that I apply to the SALT group in New York. I wish I’d gotten over my networking nerves earlier because it made such a difference! You never know who will be able to point you in the right direction.
What are you most looking forward to about this job?
I’m really excited about the corporate culture at PwC! I’m already in touch with the other new associates who will be starting in the NY Metro office, and everyone seems so positive and passionate about their work. The attorneys who interviewed me were amazing, and you could tell right away how much they love what they do. I can’t wait to take on such dynamic and interesting work in a culture of people who are equally excited about it.