Karen Hobson ’07
Persistence paid off in rewarding tax law career
When Karen Hobson realized early on in law school that she was interested in a career in tax law, she did everything in her power to make sure that would happen.
“During law school, I made it a point to build a resume that demonstrated I had legal experience in the field that I was interested in,” she said. “I did not want any gaps in my resume.”
Hobson, who is now an attorney at Williams Kastner in Portland, focused on taking many tax law classes while at the University of Oregon School of Law, but she also realized that she needed to expand her field of study to include business classes.
“To be a good tax attorney, you need to have a solid understanding of business principles,” she said.
After graduating from Oregon Law in 2007, Hobson went directly to New York University’s LL.M. taxation program. While there, Hobson almost immediately began sending resumes and cover letters to law firms in Portland, whether they had jobs posted or not. She tailored each cover letter to the firm, taking a personal approach.
“I would always direct my application to an attorney within the firm that I had a connection with—same undergraduate program, same law school, similar hobbies, from same area of the country, tax department etc.,” she said. “I always mentioned in my cover letter that I would be back in Portland over spring break/winter break and would like to set up a time to discuss job opportunities.”
Hobson also took the time to send out thank-you notes. “You never know when it might make a difference,” she said.
After sending out 89 application packets to law firms in Portland and Seattle, Hobson’s approach and persistence paid off—she was invited to five serious interviews and received two job offers.
“In applying for legal jobs, it is important to have a ‘thick skin.’ Acknowledge in the beginning that you get a lot more rejection letters than you get opportunities to interview,” she said. “However, it only takes one person interested in you as a candidate to result in a rewarding job.”
For students interested in a tax law career, Hobson said connecting with those already in the field is important. She suggests getting on the list serve for the Oregon tax section to find opportunities to get involved; volunteering for tax-related projects, such as tax aide; and taking a trip to Portland to meet with tax attorneys at different firms.
“There is nothing I enjoy more than ‘talking tax’ with a motivated law student,” she said.