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Tax, Intellectual Property Experts Join W&L Law Faculty

Two new law professors have joined the permanent faculty at Washington and Lee University School of year this fall.

Brant Hellwig, professor of law, joins W&L from the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he taught from 2002-2012. Hellwig previously visited at W&L in fall 2011. An expert in the field of federal taxation, Hellwig will teach a variety of tax courses, including basic income tax, corporation taxation, partnership taxation and estates and gift taxation.

Hellwig’s scholarship also is focused on federal taxation, including the tax treatment of deferred compensation and the estate tax treatment of closely held business entities. He says that the scheduled expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts is likely to have a big impact on his field.

“The expiration of the Bush tax cuts at the end of 2012 will significantly expand the reach of the federal estate and gift tax,” says Hellwig. “Additionally, the focus on the tax system brought about by the scheduled tax changes increases the likelihood of fundamental reform of the federal income tax and transfer tax regime.”

Hellwig recently completed a casebook on estate and gift taxation with fellow W&L law professor Bob Danforth. He is currently working on a major project for the United States Tax Court. Congress has significantly expanded the jurisdiction of the U.S. Tax Court in recent years as Congress has sought to provide judicial review of a host of newly created taxpayer rights.  Hellwig is drafting a text detailing the evolution of the Tax Court’s jurisdiction and describing the increasing influence of the Tax Court in the larger tax administration regime.

Hellwig holds a J.D. from Wake Forest University and an LL.M. in taxation from New York University School of Law, where he was awarded the Harry J. Rudick Memorial Award and served as an editor of the Tax Law Review. He earned his B.S. in Mathematical Economics from Wake Forest, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

Prior to entering academia, Hellwig was an associate with Bell, Davis & Pitt in Winston-Salem, NC and a clerk to the Hon. Juan Vasquez of the U.S. Tax Court in Washington, DC.

Chris Seaman, asst. professor of law, joins W&L from Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he served as a visiting assistant professor from 2009-2012. Seaman’s research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of intellectual property (IP) and procedure and remedies in civil litigation, interests born out of his prior experience as a judicial clerk and an IP litigator.

Seaman’s forthcoming scholarly pieces include an article in the Yale Journal of Law & Technology exploring recent patent reform legislation and an article in the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology examining how juries apply instructions from the court regarding the burden of proof for finding patents invalid. In addition, he is currently conducting an empirical study of attorney fee awards in copyright litigation.

In addition, Seaman writes on the issue of voting rights and election law, and he has critiqued recent efforts to expand voter identification rules in his scholarship.

“I am an avid student and reader of American History,” says Seaman. “The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s is a great example of how the law can be used to implement social change. The passage of the historic 1965 Voting Rights Act, and its implementation by federal officials and courts, resulted in a sea change; more African-American voters were registered to vote in the half-decade following the Act than in the previous century. It is dismaying now to see some states attempting to dismantle some of the most important parts of the Voting Rights Act.”

Seaman holds a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was executive editor of the University Pennsylvania Law Review. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College, where he studied history and public policy.

Prior to entering academia, Seaman worked from 2005-09 as an associate in the IP Litigation Practice Group at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago. In addition, he served as a law clerk to the Hon. R. Barclay Surrick in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

News Contact:
Peter Jetton
School of Law Director of Communications
(540) 458-8782