September 19, 2017
I believe this is a penny-wise, pound-foolish policy change and can serve only to damage the historically salutary close ties between tax practitioners and tax academics. I think my personal involvement with the ABA Tax Section would likely be much less had those reimbursements not been available to me. I explain more below the fold.
I practiced law for about 13 years before making a mid-life career move into academia at age 41. So I did not meet the definition of young lawyer. I do not believe I am an outlier. Tax is not a popular subject to teach (neither is Commercial law). As a result, schools tend to hire folks to teach tax who have actually practiced tax. Here at Texas Tech for example, of the last four tax hires, all have been similar to me, joining the academy after age 40 and after having practiced for more than 5 years.
When I went into academics I knew I was starting a new career and needed to work diligently to establish a respectable career path. One way I thought to do that was to participate in the ABA Tax Section meetings, in part because of the reimbursement policy. Travel funds are perennially short for untenured newbies. What really helps "sell" any conference to the Green-Shades in the Dean's office is that the conference thinks so highly of you that it is willing to share the cost! So if one is both (1) flying the institutional flag by being a speaker and (2) getting some cost sharing, then it's much easier to shake loose some money for the conference.