UC Hastings is pleased to announce that Manoj Viswanathan is joining the faculty as an Associate Professor of Law.
Viswanathan is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor and will co-teach UC Hastings' Business Tax Practicum for Social Enterprises, scheduled to start next semester. His research focuses on tax policy, economic development, and the regulation of tax-exempt organizations.
Prior to his arrival at UC Hastings, Viswanathan was a clinical teaching fellow and lecturer at Yale Law School, where he co-taught the Community and Economic Development clinic, and worked as a tax associate with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom LLP's New York City office.
He received his LLM and J.D. from New York University School of Law, and undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Provost & Academic Dean Elizabeth L Hillman said that Viswanathan is already making waves as an assistant visiting professor: "He's someone who can communicate the fundamentals of tax very well and show students the impact they can have in the world in terms of economic and social justice," and that a number of students are now choosing to concentrate on tax because of his demonstrated teaching acumen and his ability to make the subject meaningful and applicable. "Tax is a big lever that makes things move," said Hillman, "and Professor Viswanathan is already convincing students of that."
Like many attorneys and professors, Viswanathan was drawn to taxation law because of its importance to social policy. "The government implements a wide variety of policy objectives through its tax laws at the federal, state, and local levels, often in ways that are not completely transparent. Knowing how the tax code subsidizes and penalizes certain behaviors is essential to properly understand how best to accomplish social change."
Tax professor and Associate Academic Dean Heather M. Field says that taxation law really is about social values, and that Viswanathan is a valuable addition to the program because he consolidates scholarship with practice. "Tax has an integral social engineering and community perspective that is immensely valuable to students looking for opportunities to discover a concentration that resonates with them and that is powerful and socially relevant." With the addition of Viswanathan, she says, UC Hastings is able to continue its tradition of having strong in-house expertise while being able to meet the needs of students and to do so in a way that brings great teachers and scholars to campus.
"Tax law is alway changing, and so are our students' needs," adds Hillman. To ensure students are practice-ready, Field and Viswanathan have been hard at work developing and expanding UC Hastings' tax curriculum.
One way they're doing this is by creating opportunities for students to gain real world experience in taxation law. Next semester, Viswanathan, along with Professor Alina S. Ball, will teach a new experiential course at UC Hastings called the Business Tax Practicum for Social Enterprises. The course, UC Hastings' first live-client course concerned exclusively with transactional tax issues, gives students the opportunity to take their substantive knowledge out for a spin and apply what they've learned in the classroom to real world issues.
The tax practicum is one of two new tax courses being introduced next semester at UC Hastings, the other being a course in EU taxation.
"Manoj is able to innovate the tax curriculum because of his experience and because he comes to tax with both doctrinal and a clinical perspective," says Field, "and that's where we're going as an institution."
A main reason Viswanathan chose to work at UC Hastings was based on the school's dedication to its tax program. He said that students pursuing the tax concentration undertake a focused and integrated course of study. "The opportunity to focus on tax is rare for J.D. programs. In addition to the skills the tax concentrators develop, they also get to know the other students in their cohort that have similar professional interests."
"It's a wonderful work environment," he adds. "In addition to being a community of productive scholars, professors here really care about helping their students learn. It's been a wonderful experience so far and hopefully will continue to be so in the years to come."
"He's creative in trying to figure out ways of making the material accessible and his experience and passion provides texture and depth to any topic," says Field.