If there’s one big misconception the public and other attorneys may have about tax law, it’s that the work is boring.
The work is anything but that for Melissa Warner, a partner at Axley Brynelson who practices tax law and estate planning. The main reason her work is rarely dull is that it so often involves families and businesses.
“They’re all different, so each project is different,” Warner said. “That keeps it interesting and keeps it challenging.”
Another misconception is that tax law is all about tax returns. In reality, Warner rarely deals with tax returns. Instead, she spends much more time on tax planning for business transactions as well as for estates. Armed with a master of laws in taxation, Warner is a go-to attorney at the firm when it comes to tax-related issues.
Warner had always wanted to be a lawyer, and became interested in tax law in law school. She took some tax law classes and found she liked them because they involved fact patterns that were essentially math story problems.
“I liked math, so it led me in that direction,” she said.
One person who has influenced her work is Dan Hardy, a long-time estate-planning attorney at Axley. He has been Warner’s mentor since her first day as a lawyer.
“Through him I’ve learned how to be a good lawyer in all aspects of the practice,” she said.
Hardy was one of the lawyers at Axley who interviewed Warner just after she received her master of laws in taxation at the University of Denver.
“She was as green as the grass is right now,” Hardy said. “But she just absorbed everything we did. She was like a sponge. She couldn’t get enough. Learning was important to her. More important to her was meeting with clients and solving their problems.”
In addition to her legal practice at Axley, Warner spent 10 years organizing and co-founding By Women For Women, an all-women golf event to benefit cancer research and cancer survivors.
“It really consumed a lot of their free time but (Melissa) was up for the challenge and she did it really well,” said Hardy.