Grounded in Tax
“I didn’t have a specific area of interest when I started law school,” said Elise F. McClure JD’84, “but Willamette had a very good tax program, with classes in everything from federal tax preparation to estate planning. The required tax class I took was interesting. It made more use of the problem-solving and analytical skills I had from my business and finance background than other areas of the law. I liked the fact that you had a problem you could solve rather than arguing gray areas.”
When she left Willamette, McClure decided to go into public accounting for a while to strengthen her background in tax, an unusual step at the time. She later took the CPA exam — an arduous process, considering she had not studied accounting as an undergraduate.
The combination of a CPA and a law degree has served McClure well over the years. Following graduation, she worked as a tax manager for Coopers & Lybrand LLP in both Seattle and New York. McClure had planned to work for a law firm once she gained experience in tax, but that plan gradually changed. She liked tax work too much. After eight years, she joined Starbucks Coffee Co. and started their tax department. She now serves as vice president of tax and customs.
“About half the people practicing tax in large companies are lawyers,” said McClure. “A legal background is very helpful because you have a better understanding of research, writing and reasoning and of the structure of the laws.
“Willamette gave me a good grounding in tax,” she noted. “At the College of Law I learned a lot about discipline and approaching problem solving that has served me well in my career.”
Elise F. McClure JD’84
“About half the people practicing tax in large companies are lawyers. A legal background is very helpful because you have a better understanding of research, writing and reasoning and of the structure of the laws.”