Inaugural Florida Tax Institute a success

Published: March 10th, 2014

Category: News

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Lauren Detzel (JD 77), shareholder at Orlando’s Dean Mean office, is presented with a gift from the Tax Institute Steering Committee at the Inaugural Florida Tax Institute. (Photo courtesy of Linda Kirby)

By Matt Walker

Last fall, Lauren Detzel (JD 77), told UF LAW magazine that the inaugural Florida Tax Institute had three main goals – to reinforce the reputation of UF Law as one of the nation’s leading tax programs, to educate current students, and to generate funds to go back into the program. The institute, which took place Feb. 19-21 in Tampa, succeeded on all fronts.

“It exceeded our wildest expectations,” Detzel said. “We covered the waterfront in tax topics.”

Detzel, who chaired the Tax Institute Steering Committee and is a shareholder at Orlando’s Dean Mead office, said all three of those goals were readily met due to the high quality of speakers who presented difficult topics with ease – including many UF Law professors and alumni – and the dedication of the sponsors involved.

“We were ecstatic with the quality of the program, the speakers were absolutely top notch,” Detzel said. Having been to plenty of dry tax conferences where the speakers were less than engaging, Detzel said she could honestly say that every speaker in the two-and-a-half day conference was outstanding.

Detzel said there more than 300 registrants for the conference, around 70 of which were current UF Law students. She said she heard great feedback from the students, some of whom were attending their first CLE event.

She said the high level of sponsorship exceeded other tax institutes that have been running for decades. Although the final numbers aren’t in, Detzel said that in addition to being able to write a check back to UF Law, they will even have funds left to begin planning next year’s conference, which will again take place in Tampa, April 22-24.

Organizers are pushing the date for the second annual Tax Institute later than April 15 in hopes of boosting attendance even higher by attracting more CPAs to the event.

The idea of a Florida Tax Institute had been kicked around for several years before Detzel, along with fellow UF Law grad Don Tescher (JD 69) and UF Law adjunct Graduate Tax Professor and Proskauer partner David Pratt, presented the idea to Graduate Tax Director Michael Friel and Professor Dennis Calfee (LLMT 75). The wheels were set in motion for a two-year process of brainstorming and planning, leading up the inaugural institute.

After some initial fears, Detzel said she couldn’t be happier with how things turned out.

“We were really pretty excited I have to say. Scared to death for a long time, but it really just all came together.”