Sidley Austin partner Scott Pollock admits that he somewhat stumbled into the field of tax law.
As a second-year law student at George Washington University Law School, he took a federal income tax class purely because he felt like he should. It turned out to be momentous: The professor, a former attorney, piqued his interest in the field.
“She was able to relate a lot of her teaching back to the work that she did as an associate at a large law firm, and it opened my eyes to the practice,” Pollock said.
Pollock joined Sidley as a summer associate in 2009. Now, based in Chicago, he is representing the Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. on a $1 billion deal with VillageMD to open full-service doctors’ offices in Walgreens stores across the country.
“It’s always fun to work on something that you’re going to get to read about in the newspaper the next day,” Pollock said.
One of the tax practice aspects Pollock likes best focuses on affordable housing and historic rehabilitation deals. The transactions are fun and meaningful, Pollock said.
“You get the sense that you’re a part of the overall mission, which is to make affordable housing available throughout the country,” Pollock said. “It really gives you a sense of satisfaction that in addition to working on a successful real estate transaction, you’re also contributing to a worthy objective.”
Last year he was a part of a Sidley team representing the Urban Investment Group at Goldman Sachs as they invested in a mixed-use development in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. The space will serve as the new headquarters of the National Urban League and offer affordable housing, retail, and offices.
Pollock’s analytical skills and diligent work ethic has made him a go-to lawyer for investment deals, said Laura Barzilai, global leader of Sidley’s Tax, Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice, who has worked with Pollock on M&A issues, among others.
“Scott has a keen ability to adapt his knowledge to different areas, which is invaluable in the tax practice as rules change frequently and the nature of our work shifts with business climate changes,” Barzilai said.
For attorneys in training, Pollock encourages them to consider tax law—it’s highly technical and specialized, but comes with big opportunities. Tax attorneys get to work on a range of issues, and get to know attorneys in other areas at their firms.
“I think people are surprised when they learn what tax lawyers do, in a good way,” Pollock said.