J. Donald Mawhinney Lectureship in Professional Ethics

Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 17:00 to 19:00

Four Seasons Hotel (Le Pavillon Room), 791 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC
Please RSVP to eventassistant@allard.ubc.ca or by phone at 604-822-5018
This event qualifies for 1 CPD credit.

Topic: “Lessons from the Tax Shelter Wars: Tax Advice, Organizational Wrongdoing, and Enforcement Challenges”

The turn of the 21st Century saw the development of an enormous tax shelter industry in the United States.  Aided by prestigious law firms, tax professionals at major accounting firms - including KPMG, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers - created a widespread market in abusive shelters, which allowed corporate and individual taxpayers to eliminate billions of dollars in taxes owed.  As tax shelter activity proliferated, government authorities were faced with increasingly complex regulatory challenges and were ultimately forced to resort to criminal prosecutions to stem the tide of tax shelter activity.  Professor Rostain’s lecture focuses on the lessons to be drawn from the participation of major professional law firms in the rise of the tax shelter market, which represented the most serious episode of professional misconduct in the history of the American bar.

Lecturer: Professor Tanina Rostain

Tanina Rostain is a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.  Professor Rostain’s work has focused on the ethical challenges that arise in corporate and tax practice, and in particular on the influence of organizational context on professional misconduct.  In 2014, Professor Rostain published Confidence Games: Lawyers, Accountants, and the Tax Shelter Industry (MIT Press).  Co-authored with Professor Mitt Regan, Confidence Games examines the role of major accounting firms and corporate firms in the rise of the tax shelter industry at the turn of the century. More recently, Professor Rostain has turned to writing about legal technologies and access to justice. Her current research explores whether functions traditionally played by lawyers can be assumed by digital self-help tools and other legal technologies.

About the The J. Donald Mawhinney Lectureship in Professional Ethics

The J. Donald Mawhinney Lectureship in Professional Ethics was established in honour of J. Donald Mawhinney, Q.C., to recognize his outstanding contributions to British Columbia’s legal community, his commitment to legal education and his dedication to practising with the very highest standard of professional ethics. The J. Donald Mawhinney Lectureship in Professional Ethics was established in 2006. The holders of this prestigious Lectureship are drawn from the judiciary, practice, or academia each year. Lecturers deliver two addresses: the first to Allard School of Law students and faculty members and the second to members of the profession and the general public. This Lecture commemorates Mr. Mawhinney’s dedication to professional ethics and legal education and recognizes those whose contributions enabled the Lectureship in Professional Ethics. A special thank you to family, friends and colleagues whose generous contributions have made this lecture possible. Mr. Mawhinney passed away in September 2010.