Hi, my name is Caroline Austin and I am a Senior Associate Solicitor with Matheson, Ireland’s largest law firm.
Caroline, tell us a bit about what you did at college?
I graduated with an honours degree in law from Trinity College Dublin.
When I was choosing a college course, I knew that I had an interest in law and that a law degree would give me a wide range of career opportunities when I graduated.
As part of my law degree at Trinity, I got my first exposure to tax law. During the tax law module, I really enjoyed studying both Irish and international tax law. I also gained an understanding of the practical application of tax law. Looking back, my law degree really equipped me with the fundamental skills that I now use on a day-to-day basis in my role, as a tax lawyer.
After finishing my degree, I knew that I had an interest in the more commercial aspects of law and that I would like to pursue a career in a commercial law firm, as a solicitor. However, as competition for jobs and graduate programmes was, and remains, intense I first decided to do a one year Masters in Commercial Law in University College Dublin. At the same time, I also sat the Law Society Final Examinations (FE1s) in order to start my training as a solicitor.
So tell us about moving from college to the work place?
After the FE1s and my Masters, the next step was to apply for a traineeship. I applied to a number of graduate programmes and was delighted to be accepted by Matheson for a traineeship. I was extremely impressed by the broad range of practice areas offered by Matheson, which include a dedicated international tax group and its dedication to its training programme.
I spent one of my trainee rotations in the Matheson tax department, which is by far the largest tax group amongst Irish law firms. I was fortunate to be able to work side by side with partners and solicitors in the department as a member of the team, and gained invaluable insight on the day-to-day work carried out in the tax department.
Matheson’s tax department advises many international companies and financial institutions doing business in and through Ireland. I knew from my trainee experience in the tax department, that a career as a tax lawyer would be both interesting and challenging and so was delighted to be selected to work in that department when I qualified as a solicitor.
Can you give us an insight in to studying for the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification?
Once I qualified as a solicitor, I started my studies for the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification with the Irish Tax Institute. In the Matheson tax department and the tax industry as a whole, this is considered an essential qualification and I knew how much it would enhance my knowledge and skills.
Each year as I was learning more through my studies with the Irish Tax Institute, I was able to put this knowledge to practical application in my role, in the tax department. In particular, the business tax modules were extremely relevant to my day-to-day work in Matheson. So, even though I was studying, I really felt I was making a positive contribution to the work of the tax department. I was also delighted to be placed joint third place in the country in the Part 3 exams.
Can you tell us about your role in Matheson?
As s Senior Associate Solicitor in Matheson’s tax department, I work as part of a team advising leading multinationals on their establishment in Ireland and on the Irish tax aspects of their operations.
I also advise on cross border tax planning and international corporate restructurings, as well as mergers and acquisitions on an international and national level. The international focus of Matheson’s tax department is reflected in our international presence, with tax partners located in both our New York and Palo Alto offices. As Ireland’s pre-eminent tax practice, we act as primary Irish tax counsel to many of the world’s leading multinationals and financial institutions and global asset managers.
A common misconception about a career in tax is that it is just about numbers. However, tax law has a strong basis in legislation and case law. As tax law is always evolving, I am always learning and I am fortunate to be part of a team that encourages me to keep progressing, to be the best I can be.
I can certainly say that the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification has been essential in equipping me with the necessary skills to meet the needs of my clients and to help me to succeed in my career.