Tuesday, March 10, 2015

          Professor Heather M. Field to Present Bion Gregory Lecture

          The Bion Gregory Lecture, presented by Professor and Associate Academic Dean Heather M. Field, is funded through the generosity of the Gregory Family.
          Heather M. Field

          Heather M. Field

          UC Hastings College of the Law is pleased to announce that the Bion Gregory Lecture will be presented by Associate Academic Dean and Professor of Law & Bion Gregory Chair in Business Law, Heather M. Field.

          The lecture, “Aggressive Tax Planning & the Ethical Tax Lawyer,” will take place March 18 at 3:30 pm in the Alumni Reception Center. This event is free and open to the public. 

          “An ethical tax lawyer must comply with the rules of ethics that govern the legal profession and the practice of tax law before the IRS,” says Professor Field, “but those rules leave tax planners with a tremendous amount of discretion. However, there is a dearth of guidance about how tax lawyers can ensure that they are behaving ethically when exercising that discretion and providing tax planning advice on aggressive tax positions.”    

          Specifically, Professor Field argues that a lawyer seeking to pursue a career as an ethical tax planner should identify and implement her philosophy of lawyering to help her make difficult discretionary decisions in a principled way, and when implementing that approach to lawyering, she should work to counteract the subtle factors that can skew her professional judgment.

          By importing into the tax context both (a) the extensive literature on lawyering and professionalism and (b) the social science literature regarding factors that contribute to biased decision-making and unintentional lapses in judgment, Professor Field’s work seeks to 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. Her work contributes to the literature by focusing on the issues that the rules leave to the discretion of the tax practitioner (rather than on the issues that the rules address) and by approaching the discussion from a lawyering perspective (rather than from a policymaking perspective).

          “Ultimately, by fleshing out the concept of ethical tax planning,” Field says, “I hope to give students confidence and guidance as they embark on (hopefully, ethical) careers as tax planners, and I hope to ease the tension between tax academics’ scholarly work condemning aggressive tax planning and their classroom work, in which they often teach students how to use those same tax planning techniques. And perhaps this limited defense of the ethics of the tax planning profession can help to rehabilitate the public image of tax lawyers.”

          Bion Gregory Chair in Business Law

          UC Hastings announced the creation of the Bion Gregory Chair in Business Law in December of 2012. Click here to read the announcement.

          Bion Gregory '68 was the longest serving Legislative Counsel in California history. For 25 years, he 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.

          Gregory came from a line of attorneys, each named Bion Gregory. His grandfather graduated from UC Hastings in 1893.

          "Bion knew he wanted his estate to go to UC Hastings," says his wife, Patty, who lives in Sacramento and met Bion while working as his secretary in the Legislative Counsel's office. "Bion would never retire. The law was his life, his love," his wife says.

          “I have had the honor of meeting with Mrs. Gregory and several other members of the Gregory family,” says Professor Heather M. Field, the inaugural recipient (and reappointed in 2014). “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.”

          To contribute to the Bion Gregory Chair in Business Law at UC Hastings, please contact Acting Assistant Dean of Institutional Advancement Alex A.G. Shapiro at shapiroa@uchastings.edu

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