Brad Gould is the Latest Dean Mead Attorney to Step into National Leadership in Tax Law
When the nation’s top tax lawyers join with government policymakers to discuss new or proposed laws or rules, Dean Mead’s lawyers always have a seat at the table. Brad Gould is the latest example of the firm’s attorneys taking on a national leadership role in tax law – and making Dean Mead a statewide leader in tax law.
Gould, who practices in the firm’s Fort Pierce office, is starting a two-year term as vice chair of the American Bar Association Tax Section’s S Corporations Committee. That will be followed by an additional two years as chair of the committee.
Gould is part of a long tradition of ABA tax leadership at Dean Mead, an extraordinary endorsement from the national community of tax lawyers. Dean Mead’s Tax Department chair Stephen R. Looney is a past chair of the S Corporations Committee, and his articles on tax issues regularly appear in legal and tax journals. Charles H. Egerton, one of the firm’s founding members, is a past chair of the full ABA Tax Section and its Partnerships and LLCs Committee and once served as the Bar’s liaison to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Looney and Egerton also are Fellows of the prestigious American College of Tax Counsel, a distinction awarded to only 34 of Florida’s more than 85,000 lawyers. Christopher R. D’Amico was awarded a Nolan Fellowship in 2007. All of these Dean Mead tax lawyers continue to keep a demanding schedule of speaking engagements in ABA national tax education conferences and are widely recognized for their knowledge of tax law.
With leadership comes networking opportunities
All of this extracurricular activity matters to clients because it gives these attorneys a direct line to the regulators and government insiders who make and interpret tax policy and rules. The ABA Tax Section meets three times a year for national conferences and holds numerous programs throughout the year, which gives Dean Mead attorneys numerous opportunities to speak directly with IRS and Treasury Department tax experts and regulators. They typically come away from these conferences with insight into what is in the regulatory pipeline and they often get the opportunity to express industry concerns about proposed policy.
“Our front-row participation in these conferences allows us to stay on the cutting edge of what’s going on in the tax arena,” says Gould. “And when we can talk directly with Treasury and IRS officials, it allows us to go back to our partners and clients with this knowledge and tell them what we’re hearing and where we believe policy is headed.”
Gould notes also that the personal relationships formed in these meetings are important. “I can pick up the phone and call an IRS official who I met at a conference and clarify the agency’s interpretation of a rule. That’s a huge advantage when we’re advising clients.”
Knowledge and access create unique reach for tax practice
Looney explains that the Dean Mead tax practice has several critical advantages.
- It’s connected at the highest level of government policymaking, thanks to the attorneys’ involvement in the ABA Tax Section. “We always have the latest, up-to-date information,” he says.
- The firm’s tax attorneys are involved in every transaction from the beginning. “At most large firms, the corporate lawyers put together a transaction and then bring in the tax practice to review what they’ve done – after a lot of the structure has been set. At Dean Mead, the corporate attorneys are the tax attorneys. We’re thinking about transactions from a tax perspective right from the start.”
- “We don’t have turf at Dean Mead,” Looney says. “We collaborate across the firm – and draw from all of our practices and offices – so that clients get the best attorney for the issue.” The firm’s tax lawyers, which include the Estate and Succession Planning practice, routinely collaborate closely with attorneys from other departments to make sure all aspects of a client’s needs are addressed. That Estate and Succession Planning practice includes a lawyer also licensed as a CPA, six with a Master of Laws (LL.M) in Taxation, three lawyers who are board certified in tax by The Florida Bar, and four lawyers including shareholders, Matthew J. Ahearn, Lauren Y. Detzel, Robert J. Naberhaus and Brian M. Malec, who are board certified in wills, trusts and estates by The Florida Bar. Additionally, Detzel and David J. Akins are Fellows of the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel.
- The firm’s tax practice has a roster of attorneys who have advanced training in taxation and accounting. Egerton, Looney, D’Amico and eight additional attorneys at Dean Mead have LL.M. degrees in taxation, while Gould has a graduate accounting degree and is a lawyer also licensed as a CPA who once worked in Deloitte’s tax practice. Gould is one of four Dean Mead attorneys who hold CPA certificates. D’Amico, Looney and Egerton are board certified in tax by The Florida Bar along with Ahearn. Looney has an undergraduate degree in accounting and business administration. “We speak the language of accountants,” says Gould. “It’s immensely helpful to us and the accounting firms employed by our clients.”
- Dean Mead’s attorneys regularly post updates and analysis of Florida and federal tax law on the firm’s Tax Law Blog. The blog is another example of the firm’s proactive leadership in keeping business informed of the latest developments in tax law.
New issues always are emerging in tax, Looney says, and the tax practice’s continuing involvement with the ABA Tax Section and other professional activities provides clients enormous benefits. “For pending rules and regulations, we have a voice to express our clients’ concerns. And for rules already in place we can get the answers as quickly as any firm in Washington or New York. A lot of times we find ourselves sitting next to someone who wrote the rules and we can ask them for clarification. That’s a lot better than reading what someone else says about it. We don’t have to guess what something means.”
Members of the firm are also actively involved as leaders at the state level, as well.
- Four Dean Mead attorneys served as past chairs of The Florida Bar Tax Section including Stephen Dean (deceased), Lauren Detzel, Charles Egerton and William Townsend. All four attorneys made remarkable contributions to the profession throughout Florida. For example, Detzel has played a major role in assisting the Florida Legislature in drafting specialized legislation, requiring thousands of volunteer hours, including the passing of Florida’s elective share legislation in 2001 and stopping the application of the corporate income tax to limited liability companies in 1998.
- Just last month, The Florida Bar Tax Section’s Nominating Committee nominated Michael Minton, of Fort Pierce, to serve as the 2017-18 chair-elect. Minton is a member of the Tax Section Directors’ Committee and Chair of the Committee on Specialty Tax (formerly known as the Agricultural Tax Law Committee). He has served as Chair and Co-Chair of the Long Range Planning Committee and Co-Chair of the Section Administration Division, of The Florida Bar Tax Section. Minton is also known as the un-official historian of the Tax Section having authored or co-authored the Tax Section’s History and subsequent updates.
- Currently, Brian Malec is serving as the director of the Federal Tax Division of The Florida Bar Tax Section. Additionally, Dana Apfelbaum is the co-director of the New Tax Lawyer Division of The Florida Bar Tax Section.
- The firm is deeply invested in mentoring young lawyers who wish to develop their law practice in tax. In fact, numerous attorneys have contributed to the tax program at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Detzel co-founded the Florida Tax Institute – one of the nation’s top symposiums featuring prominent speakers from throughout the U.S. on tax, business and estate planning issues which is co-sponsored by the University of Florida Tax LL.M. program. She served as the conference chair for the first two years. Since its inception, the Florida Tax Institute has given over $100,000 to benefit students in the UF Graduate Tax Program by way of scholarships. All students in the Graduate Tax Program are invited to attend the institute for free and they receive a stipend to cover their expenses.