If you asked Peter Ford to give you his ten second elevator pitch it would go something like this: “I am Corporate Tax Attorney specializing in the taxation of hedge funds, partnerships, and other joint ventures.” However, like any good elevator pitch, it leaves out a lot of the details about how he manages to consistently deliver value to his clients on a day-to-day basis as a Tax Manager in the National Tax Department of Ernst & Young LLP’s Partnership Transactional Planning & Economic Group.
Peter’s practice is primarily focused on transactional matters. On average, he spends about 70% of his time advising small, mid-sized and large multinational firms about the complexities of subchapter K of the Internal Revenue Code geared toward their specific industries and issues. The remaining 30% of his time is divided between compliance work and performing due diligence.
Peter’s client base includes organizations from several industries including real estate, technology, media, automotive, manufacturing, energy, hedge fund investment partnerships, private equity funds, and the financial sector.
Peter earned his M.B.A. from Purdue University, an M.S.M. degree from Carnegie Mellon University and his J.D. from West Virginia University. His L.L.M. in Taxation was earned from the world-renowned Georgetown University Law Center.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really enjoy finding the right answer to a client issue. It’s like trying to solve a complicated puzzle. It keeps me engaged and intellectually stimulated. That’s intriguing to me. It’s the reason I do this type of work.
Describe a typical day at the office?
Generally, I start the day by reading Tax Notes, BNA and other publications for updates on changes in the tax laws. I try to identify new cases or regulations that may have an affect on my clients.
If the phone hasn’t started to ring by the time I’m finished, I start working on outstanding projects. Before the morning ends, there is usually a call concerning a transaction that has a very short timeline. I normally juggle a few of these transactions at the same time with various closing dates. It is also not uncommon to get a phone call from a client that will shift my focus to a more time-sensitive issue.
What advice would you give to a law student or newly admitted attorney who wants to pursue a tax career in your area of practice?
You must be academically prepared with the fundamentals and be willing to spend a lot of time learning the intricacies of tax law. Use your time in school to learn about the many possible areas of practice available for a tax professional. Try to learn as much as possible about tax generally before you attempt to specialize. Where you start off will not necessarily be where you end up and knowledge gained early will be very valuable.
Where do you see yourself five to ten years from now?
My goal is achieve technical excellence as a tax attorney and deliver quality work product to my clients. I would also continue to aspire for challenging leadership positions within my organization so that I can continue to grow on the management-side.
If you could have dinner with one person in history, who is no longer living, who would it be?
Several of my relatives who were influential in my development passed away in the last 15 years. I would like to have dinner with at least one of them to get their insight and sage counsel. In life I have learned that those who are really good at the basics, the blocking and tackling, are generally successful. Several deceased family members carved into me a tenacious work ethic that serves as the engine which drives me toward success today.
What was the last movie that you watched?
I don’t get to watch a lot of movies, but when I do I seek out the war movies. Some of my favorites have been Enemy of the State, Behind Enemy Lines, and The Good Sheppard, or any of the films based on Tom Clancy novels.
What is your favorite restaurant in Washington, D.C?
Acadaian located at 901 New York Avenue, NW.
Describe yourself in three words or less?
Persistent. Visionary. Believer.
Describe your ideal vacation?
A Kenyan safari.