This fall, two highly influential legal experts and scholars join the School of Law faculty after serving as D & L Straus Distinguished Visiting Professors at Pepperdine.
PAUL CARON, who is widely known as one of the leading entrepreneurial tax scholars in the country, and AHMED TAHA, whose research of consumer and investor protection law has garnered praise in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, will impart their extensive knowledge and diverse background to influence the next generation of lawyers as tenured professors at the School of Law. Learn more about their impressive histories and how they hope to leave their mark on the School of Law.
Paul Caron is experiencing what he calls a “life reboot.”
Not only has he traveled cross-country to begin a new phase in his career as a professor at the School of Law, but his highly popular online resource for legal professionals, the TaxProf Blog, is undergoing a simultaneous redesign.
“It has continued to change from where we started in 2004,” he says, of the website that for five consecutive years has been named by the American Bar Association as one of the Top 100 law-related blogs (“Blawgs”). “I view that as marking a new chapter in the life of the blog, while rebooting myself professionally and personally with the move from Cincinnati to Malibu.”
The former associate dean of faculty and Charles Hartsock Professor of Law at the University Of Cincinnati College Of Law will continue his 20-year career as a law professor, passing on his decades-long wisdom on tax law, which he deems to be the most important class that students will take in law school.
“It’s the only substantive area that cuts across every other area of law,” he explains. “I tell students that no matter what area of law they end up practicing, there are serious tax considerations in their areas. In order to be competent in those areas, they need to have at least a passing familiarity with tax law.”
Throughout the semester, Caron plans to begin every class with a rundown of the news of the day, showing recent developments in the world of tax law that he has posted on the blog. “I want them to see how the lessons actually play out in the real world,” he says.
But more important than his students’ professional success is how they are able to succeed as people. “Law has a bad reputation of being this all-consuming profession in which folks can sometimes lose sight of what’s important in pursuit of professional success at all costs,” he laments. “That’s one of the attractions here at Pepperdine: we’re modeling for students how to not only succeed professionally, but also to keep that flame lit so that they are able to manage their personal lives, as well.”
“A law degree is very flexible. You shouldn’t get stuck in something you don’t enjoy.”
Ahmed Taha explains this simple concept every year to his civil procedure students on the last day of class, hoping to leave them with not only the analytical and critical skills necessary for a career in law, but also those lessons that will carry them through their lives beyond the classroom.
Taha knows firsthand the opportunities that exist forb law scholars after graduation. After earning both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, he continued his education at Stanford University, completing both a PhD in economics and JD in 1996.
Prior to joining the Wake Forest University School of Law faculty in 2002, Taha was an attorney in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., an associate with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto, California, and a corporate finance analyst at McKinsey & Company in New York City. At Wake Forest he became the 2011 recipient of the Joseph Branch Excellence in Teaching Award. Outside the classroom Taha’s research focuses primarily on empirical studies of consumer and investor protection law.
At Pepperdine, Taha transitions from a visiting professor to a professor of corporations and civil procedure. Beyond fulfilling his role as an instructor of legal systems, Taha, who is the first Muslim professor at the School of Law, is trying to establish worship opportunities for students of Muslim faith and has been working with the University chaplain’s office to identify those students who would most benefit from such opportunities. He has been organizing a weekly congregational prayer service for students of Muslim faith.
On a basic level, Taha touts the ease and convenience of carrying a religious obligation with on-campus prayer services. “The nearest mosque is 45 minutes away,” he explains. “On a broader scale, it is important for your religious identity to have a core group of people that share your same faith tradition with you. I think that’s important for the students to have and something I’m trying to recreate at the School of Law.”