Professor of Law
For many Americans, April 15 marks the
start of months of tax-free thought. But not for Professor
Evelyn Brody. As a tax law expert at Chicago-Kent
and an active participant in nonprofit tax policy
debate, Brody spends much of her time thinking critically
about how the U.S. tax code can be improved, even
as she educates a future generation of lawyers about
the fundamentals and intricacies of tax law.
"Normal people aren't born wanting to do this," says
Professor Evelyn Brody of her career in tax law. She has taught
a variety of tax courses since joining Chicago-Kent in 1992, and
has spent semesters visiting at Penn, Duke, and NYU.
Brody also teaches nonprofit law, her area of research. Her scholarly
publications have examined the tax treatment of education, the
economic and institutional similarities between nonprofit and
for-profit organizations, charitable endowments, the direct and
indirect effects of tax reform on charities, the limits of nonprofit
fiduciary law, the constitutional bounds of the right of association,
and the enforcement powers of the IRS and state attorneys general.
In 2002, she was named a Freehling Scholar by Chicago-Kent and
the Norman and Edna Freehling Endowment Fund for her distinguished
work in the field of tax law.
"I self-identify as a tax lawyer," Brody says, reflecting
on how she fits into the nonprofit world. "But you walk up
to a bunch of nonprofit people and say you're a tax lawyer and
Most recently she was named a reporter for a new American Law Institute
project, Principles of the Law of Nonprofit
Organizations. "Principles allow you to say not only
what the law is, but what the law should be," she says of
the scope of the project, which is targeted to practitioners,
judges, and legislators. "The project probably won't cover
every single aspect of nonprofit operation, but it will definitely
cover the areas of governance and gifts.
"Nonprofit law raises different issues from those found in
business law," Brody explains. "The tension is not between
managers and owners but among the generations (past, present,
future), and between managers and beneficiaries. How can -- and
to what degree should -- the living generation follow the intentions
of donors? And how can paid managers be required to meet their
duties to the intended beneficiaries? The challenge to the nonprofit
law project has only increased with the recent governance failures
on the business side -- what does Enron, WorldCom and Tyco say
about corporate boards?"
In 2002, the multi-disciplinary book Brody edited and co-wrote,
Property-Tax Exemptions for Charities:
Mapping the Battlefield, was published by The Urban Institute
Press. As an associate scholar with The Urban Institute's Center
on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, Brody also co-hosted a series
on nonprofit advocacy, and helps to organize semi-annual programs
on emerging issues in philanthropy, jointly sponsored with the
Hauser Center on Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard.
The property-tax book, according to Brody, has come at the right
"Local governments are finding their property-tax base shrinking
due to electronic commerce and the digital delivery of information,
and large, revenue-generating nonprofits like hospitals and universities
"Hospitals and universities are being asked to negotiate payments
in lieu of taxes," she says. "It's hard for institutions
like Harvard, sitting on multi-billion dollar endowments, to say
they can't pay anything."
Brody has worked for the Office of Tax Policy at the U.S. Department
of Treasury and in private practice with the firms Arnold &
Porter in Washington, D.C., and Michael, Best & Friedrich
in Madison, Wisconsin.
Academia offered what other venues could not.
"At Chicago-Kent, I'm working all the time. In for-profit
practice, I'd be working all the time. In government, I'd be working
all the time," she says. "The difference is now I'm
working all the time on stuff I want to be thinking about."
While Brody is happy pondering the intricacies of the tax code,
students in her basic tax law course often are a bit wary of this
prospect, much to her delight.
"My favorite students are the ones with low expectations about
studying tax law, which describes most of my students," Brody
says. "Students come in thinking it's about numbers and calculations
and it's going to be dry and boring. Then they realize it's about
money, greed and power, and they really get into it.
"I could not make-up cases like these," she says about
some of the material she covers in her tax class. "It's a
very funny course."
Brody is active in both nonprofit and tax professional projects.
She is an at-large member of the board of the Association for
Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA).
She was an academic adviser to the Joint Committee on Taxation
staff's 2000-01 simplification project, and in 1992 served on
the Clinton/Gore Transition Team (Treasury/Tax Policy Cluster).
Long active in the American Bar Association's Section on Taxation,
she has been nominated to be Assistant Secretary, to start May