Conference reunites law professor and tax law graduates

By Lori Atherton
U-M Law

Professor Reuven Avi-Yonah, who directs University of Michigan Law School’s International Tax LLM program, had reason to be proud at a recent tax law conference he attended at the University of Milan-Bicocca in Italy. That’s because five of the participants were Avi-Yonah’s former international tax LLM and SJD students.

The Michigan Law graduates who presented at the conference are now tenured and tenure-track tax law professors at universities around the world. They included Nicola Sartori, LLM ’07, SJD ’09, a professor at the University of Milan-Bicocca who organized the conference, which focused on presumptive income taxation; Tianlong Hu, LLM ’01, LLM (international tax) ’04, SJD ’11, from Renmin University of China; Fadi Shaheen, LLM ’05, SJD ’07, from Rutgers University; and Tamir Shanan, LLM ’08, SJD ’10, from the College of Management Academic Studies in Israel. In addition, Nir Fishbien, LLM ’16—a current Michigan Law SJD candidate who is studying with Avi-Yonah—also presented at the conference, while Avi-Yonah’s former students Giulio Allevato, LLM ’12, and Alessandro Turina, LLM ’14, were attendees. Carlo Garbarino, a 1986 international tax LLM graduate who did not study with Avi-Yonah, also presented at the conference; he teaches at Bocconi University in Milan.
“Seeing four tax professors at Bicocca who were all my students must count as one of the bigger days of my life since, in the end, I think an academic is measured more by his or her students than by anything they write,” said Avi-Yonah, the Irwin I. Cohn Professor of Law.

Avi-Yonah started Michigan Law’s international tax program in 2003 after teaching in international tax programs at Harvard Law School and the New York University School of Law. This year marks the 15th anniversary of Michigan Law’s international tax program, and Avi-Yonah said he “could not be more pleased at how it has developed.”

Between two and 10 students are accepted into the international tax program each year, Avi-Yonah noted, but the average class size is five students. As a result of its small size—which distinguishes Michigan’s program from similar programs at other law schools—students receive more individual attention than those in larger programs, and they have close contact with faculty, Avi-Yonah said. In addition, graduates consistently are placed in top law and accounting firms throughout the United States and abroad, including Akin Gump; Cravath, Swaine, & Moore; Davis, Polk, & Wardwell; Sullivan & Cromwell; and Shearman and Sterling, among others.

Since its inception, more than 100 students have graduated from Michigan Law’s international tax program, Avi-Yonah said, and of those graduates, 30 have gone on to pursue an SJD from the Law School. “Michigan specializes in nurturing tax academics, and the tax academics who participated in the conference in Milan are only a subset of our tax LLM and SJD graduates who teach full- or part-time,” said Avi-Yonah, who noted that LLM and SJD graduates typically work in the United States for several years before returning to their home countries to practice or teach. Teaching appointments have included those at Michigan Law; Georgetown University; the University of California, Irvine; Tel Aviv University; Peking University, and Chongqing University, among others.


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