How David Gair went from teaching to tax law
Published in 2023 Texas Super Lawyers magazine
By Rebecca Mariscal on September 15, 2023
David Gair was 16 years old when he left the U.S. for the first time, boarding a plane to spend the school year as an exchange student with a family in the small town of La Almunia, Spain. He quickly discovered his Spanish II education wasn’t enough.
“Man, it’s trial by fire,” he says. “I had a headache for the first month I was there, just because it was so much information in my brain.”
Even so, the experience enhanced his love for Spanish and he eventually earned a master’s degree in it. Teaching it, especially without an education background—first at a boarding school in North Carolina for two years and then middle school at Colorado Academy—was its own trial by fire.
“The first day I think I teared up. I was like, ‘What have I done to myself? It’s so hard,’” he remembers. “But you get better at it.” Over the years, he was able to take a number of trips with students, including one back to Spain.
After four years, Gair and his wife, Ashley, a science teacher, both decided to embark on new challenges. She went to medical school; he headed to law school. “We wanted to take a risk on ourselves,” he says. Law school fit the bill for Gair. “I’ve always had an interest in helping people,” he says. “And I always knew that it was a difficult career and intellectually challenging.”
Tax law, however, was not part of the plan. “It was the farthest thing from my mind, as a matter of fact,” he says. But while doing volunteer tax preparation, he found he enjoyed it and took a class. Now at Locke Lord, he handles disputes between clients and federal and state taxing authorities, and helps companies with audits and tax court litigation. It’s met his desire for a challenge: “There are new things that come up, and the tax law changes and people have different problems.”
Plus, Gair is still in the classroom—teaching a federal tax law class at Southern Methodist University. Demystifying tax law, he’s found, is not so different from teaching Spanish. “Being able to translate the Internal Revenue Code to your clients, to the judge, even to the IRS, in a way that is understandable is a challenge,” he says. “I feel in some ways that I’m like an interpreter of the Internal Revenue Code into plain English.”
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