Your career pathway

Mary Dineen, Trainee with Taxand Ireland, William Fry

Tell us about your college degree?

I received both my undergraduate and masters degrees of law from University College Cork. Having completed my undergraduate degree, I knew my interests lay in commercial law and so I focused my masters’ studies on commercial and Information Technology law.

When did you decide you were interested in tax as a career?

Following on from my masters, I obtained a Barrister-at-Law degree from Kings Inns and practised as a barrister in the areas of company and commercial law for 2 years. It was during this time that I first gained exposure to tax law; it struck me as a very interesting area of law and so I began looking into becoming an AITI Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) with the Irish Tax Institute.

What was it about tax as a career that interested you?

The interaction between the commercial and legal aspects of the role of an Chartered Tax Adviser was what initially drew my attention to a career in tax. The technical nature of tax law and the challenge of working in the area also appealed to me. In particular, I enjoy the problem-solving nature of the role; devising a solution which is not only legally and technically accurate but which is commercially acceptable, can be quite challenging but is also very interesting.

How did you go about looking for a job in tax?

I went on-line and researched careers in tax in Ireland and spoke to people already training and working in the area. I then researched the companies I was interested in working for and completed the required application forms and interview processes. As Taxand Ireland (William Fry) is a tax practice, in addition to being part of the top 5 Irish law firms, I thought training with them would be the best fit for me, given my legal background.

What was the recruitment and selection process like?

In general, I found the recruitment process very challenging; there are numerous different stages to go through before getting a position. The recruitment process at Taxand Ireland (William Fry) was very well organised and focused very much on putting the applicants at ease. I attended the drinks reception at the company’s offices prior to the interview and met the partners who would be interviewing me. I found this very helpful as it was much better to meet in a relaxed environment first, rather than the formal surrounds of an interview. Current trainees with Taxand Ireland (William Fry) met with me and answered any questions I had about the role, I found this gave me a very good insight into the firm and the type of work I would be doing as a trainee. Ultimately, I accepted a role at Taxand Ireland (William Fry).

What skills from your degree did you find helpful in your career in tax?

I have found that the skills I acquired through my legal education have been invaluable to me in training to become an AITI Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA). Tax law is primarily based in statute and therefore, the skill one learns in an undergraduate law degree of reading and analysing complex pieces of legislation in order to advise on a given point are particularly useful. In addition, I have found that I have had ample opportunity to develop various skills I acquired whilst training and working as a barrister, such as drafting legal advice and carrying out comprehensive and technical legal research in a timely manner.

What does a typical day involve for you?

The great thing about a career in tax is that there is no such thing as a “typical” day – it is a very varied area and therefore, there is always something new and different to get involved in. In Taxand Ireland (William Fry) there is a real focus on trainees getting experience across all tax areas, in order for them to get more comprehensive training and to decide what areas they themselves would like to focus on. Therefore, on any given day, I could be working on matters relating to a range of different taxes, such as VAT, corporate tax or personal tax. Although not confined to any one area, over the course of my training my work has tended to focus on international and corporate tax. A lot of my work relates to multinational clients wishing to set up operations in Ireland. I assist the partner with structuring the establishment of the Irish operations, in the most efficient manner, from both a commercial and tax perspective. My role involves assisting the partner with preparing the advice and researching any issues which may arise and discussing it with the partner. During the course of this work, I sit in with the partner on conference calls with clients and attend client meetings. This generally involves working along side our colleagues in other departments such as corporate and technology and I assist the partner in liaising with these departments. I also regularly assist on general corporate tax queries from existing clients; this involves advising clients on the tax consequences of their business decisions and drafting letters of advice and having calls/meetings with the client to discuss the issues and the advice. The other main focus of my work is tax disputes and litigation. This can involve anything from assisting with drafting correspondence to Revenue, attending meetings with clients or assisting the partner with drafting legal submissions to the Appeal Commissioners. Given my background, as a barrister, I really enjoy this work, as it has a lot of cross over with our litigation department.

What most appeals to you about your job?

The varied and hands-on nature of the role with Taxand Ireland (William Fry) is what appeals to me most about the job. From a very early stage, I was involved in interesting work and given increasing responsibility as time went on. This means that it is always interesting and I feel that I am always learning and increasing my knowledge in various areas of tax. The work is therefore very rewarding and has assisted me greatly with studying for the AITI Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) exams. I find the problem solving nature of tax the most appealing aspect, it is very rewarding when a project you have been involved in from the beginning is concluded, with all the issues ironed out along the way. It also requires a varied skill set, both numerical and analytical, which although challenging, makes the job extremely engaging. Working in tax allows me to deal with very complex legislation and legal issues, whilst also gaining exposure to the commercial side of a transaction. This duality is very interesting and one of the main reasons I have chosen to specialise in the area of tax law.

Why did you decide to pursue the AITI Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification?

Once I decided that I would like to work in tax, I quickly realised that an essential prerequisite is obtaining the Chartered Tax Adviser qualification. Whilst initially I found the prospect of working and studying daunting, the course is formulated so as to make it as easy as possible to combine work and study. In particular, the online element of the course is very helpful – all lectures and notes are available online, allowing students to study at times that suit them best. Because of the varied and hands on nature of the work in Taxand Ireland’s office, I have found working in tax very beneficial when preparing for the Chartered Tax Adviser exams and conversely, I have found the knowledge I have acquired as part of the AITI Chartered Tax Adviser course has assisted me massively in my day to day work with Taxand Ireland (William Fry).

Find out more by visiting the Irish Tax Institute's 'Careers in Tax' website here