François-Xavier Beaudry is a recent alumnus of Osgoode’s Professional LLM in Tax Law. Here’s what he had to say on how the LLM helped him develop lifelong legal skills and connections with a couple of the top experts in the country.
Why did you decide to pursue an LLM in Tax Law?
When I was completing my LLB in the Province of Quebec, it became clear to me that I had an interest towards taxation. The legal field in general is quite broad and I figured it would be ideal for me to have expertise in the field before practicing.
At the time, I was completing an internship for a legal support NGO in Cambodia. My taste for adventure made me decide to apply for graduate studies further from home.
I had never taken a University course in English and I figured immersion would be the best way for me to develop writing and reading legal skills in that language. So I applied to Toronto, which also happened to be the biggest professional hub and career-focused city in Canada.
What were some of your experiences during your LLM studies that helped you get to where you are today?
The interaction between students and professors at the LLM level is much better, tighter and deeper than what I had been used to before. Classes are also very different in that they are smaller and more interactive than expected.
At least in the Tax LLM, the focus is not on the amount of notes you take, but on your thinking and analytical skills.
I need to emphasize that the professors, as individuals, are kind and empathic. Not only are they among the best experts in the country, but they really care about helping you get better. The focus more on your understanding of the material than learning it by heart.
Special thanks to Scott Wilkie and Jinyan Li, with whom I had great discussions about tax concerns that affect our society.
Although a lot of students decide to take the classes online, my best memories at Osgoode are without a doubt the friends and colleagues I have made, whether it be during classes and breaks or even friends in other LLM programs. The faculty and staff organize multiple social events to connect with your fellow classmates and I urge you to attend them, those are the most lasting souvenirs.
This discussion would however not be complete without talking about the professional opportunities in Toronto. Especially in tax, the community of practitioners and academics is not too large and a great part of it is based in Toronto. Being located in this city offers access to multiple conferences and events that lead to professional connections and opportunities.
Tell us about the proudest accomplishments in your professional development so far.
The real benefit to my professional development out of this LLM is the emphasis that has been put on writing. Although this means I had to put endless weeks and months in completing the course papers, the progress was evident throughout the year. Osgoode offers, encourages and helps you extensively if your desire is to publish material.
Academic work at the Faculty can also be rewarded by firms, journals or other legal organizations. For example, one of my papers was awarded the Canadian Tax Foundation-Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP Award for Ontario, given annually to the best student tax paper in the province.
Now that my studies in Toronto are over, I am clerking for the judiciary at the Tax Court of Canada, helping judges with research and preparing legal opinions on files before the Court. After this year, I will complete my articling term with the nation-wide firm Miller Thomson LLP, in Montreal.
Where do you see your career progressing five years from now?
One of the great things about the LLM is the different perspective it offers on the legal field.
I used to think legal studies were only important if you wanted to become a lawyer. I now have a better understanding of policy considerations and the law in general. I might be open later in my life for additional studies like a PHD.
Higher education also strongly helps if you’re considering, like me, to one day get a teaching position. It also provides you with a more holistic view of the law, which is oh so helpful when working on complicated files. For instance, I consider orienting my career towards tax planning, which requires a good understanding of tax statutes.
“I need to emphasize that the professors, as individuals, are kind and empathic. Not only are they among the best experts in the country, but they really care about helping you get better.”
The Tax LLM at Osgoode is the among the best, if not the best ranked degree in tax in Canada. It really does open doors and allows you to dream of just about anything. The downside? You have to enjoy tax (which is not a problem for me, but might be for many students).
Osgoode’s Professional LLM in Tax Law is available for Fall 2020 studies. To learn more about this specialization, please view the brochure.
François-Xavier Beaudry was born and raised in Chicoutimi, in the countryside and northern part of Québec. He’s an avid athlete, having played many sports at a competitive level such as ski, soccer and rugby. He also loves music and plays various instruments, notably violin and guitar. He studied law at the University of Sherbrooke, where he took part in a cooperative program during which he completed three legal internships. At Osgoode, François was part of the full-time LLM in Tax Law during the 2018-19 academic year. He is currently a Judicial Law Clerc for the Tax Court of Canada.