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Alumna Helps Shape the Future of Tax

Sarah Sheldon

“The practice of tax law has been a beautiful thing for me.”

For Sarah Sheldon ‘06, her love of tax law started at California Western. Initially, she thought she would hate it and that it would be boring, but that all changed with her first class.

“I had some amazing tax professors at California Western,” recalls Sheldon. “I loved my tax classes. Most things we do in life have a tax impact, and I found that intriguing,” she adds.

Today, Sheldon works for MetLife, one of the largest global providers of insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs in the world. Recently promoted to Assistant Vice President, Assistant Tax Counsel, she mainly focuses on global indirect tax controversy, including audit, litigation and the like. Sheldon finds the work fascinating, and her job takes her to many different states and countries.

“I am a very social person and working in this area affords me the opportunity to work with people from all over the world,” says Sheldon.  When not working on indirect matters, she assists on transfer pricing issues, M&A, and tax planning projects. “There is never a dull moment, and I absolutely love my job,” she adds.

With continually evolving tax laws, Sheldon says it’s an exciting time to be a tax attorney, and she is glad to be part of the process that will shape the future of tax. “Everyone has been in this tax reform season together, and I am impressed at the collegiality of the tax community in coming together to learn and interpret the new legislation,” she says.

Originally from Ohio, Sheldon found her way to California Western in a somewhat unconventional way. “I had lived in Ohio my whole life and started law school in Ohio for 1L,” she recounts. “I started dating someone who was from California in my law school class, and after one winter in Ohio, he said he had had enough of snow and ice and was moving back to California.”

Sheldon was heartbroken! She started researching schools in California and was extremely impressed with Cal Western. “They seemed to have a very hands-on teaching approach, and I loved that they offered practicum classes as well as amazing internships for credit,” says Sheldon. “To me it just seemed like they trained students to be actual lawyers and I liked that.” Sheldon applied for a transfer, got accepted, packed up her 1994 Plymouth Sundance, and headed West. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made in my whole life,” she says.

For would-be law students, Sheldon offers a personal recommendation. “I have yet to see another law school that offers such a variety of classes as well as fantastic internship opportunities to really give students a sense of what it’s like to practice law,” she says, adding, “Additionally, the quality of teaching is amazing.”

Benjamin Franklin once said that taxes were one of the only two certainties in this world, and it seems that changing tax laws are not far behind. Sarah Sheldon takes a more pragmatic view.

“I call it job security,” she quips.