Joseph Pari, who has run KPMG’s Washington national tax practice for the last five years, is the latest attorney to return to Big Law after a stint with the Big Four, joining Weil, Gotshal & Manges to co-chair the firm’s global tax department.
Pari spent five and a half years at KPMG, with most of that time in the role of national principal-in-charge of the organization’s Washington-based national tax practice. Before joining KPMG, he was briefly a Linklaters partner, following a length stint at Dewey & LeBoeuf that ended as the firm crumbled in 2012.
Pari said that he was not looking to leave his role at KPMG, describing the Washington national tax practice as “the crown jewel” of a Big Four accounting firm.
“There are four of those jobs, and it was extremely hard to pass up,” he said of his move to KPMG in 2013.
Personal relationships lured Pari back to Weil. Michael Aiello, chairman of the firm’s global corporate department, is a close friend.
“He’s like family,” Pari said of Aiello, “and he’s easily the best deal lawyer I’ve ever met.”
Pari said he also has a longstanding friendship with Paul Wessel, who will co-chair Weil’s tax department with him. The current leaders of the firm’s tax department, Martin Pollack and Kenneth Heitner, are retiring at the end of the year, opening up the space for new leadership.
Pari also praised Weil executive partner Barry Wolf, whom he has gotten to know in the process of making the move to the firm: “Every single person I’ve ever spoken to said he’s a great guy, an incredible manager, and incredibly fair. I’ve seen bad law firm management, having been at Dewey,” Pari said.
Pari, whose 30-year career as a tax attorney has involved substantial M&A and restructuring work, said his time at KPMG gave him new experience as a manager, as he found himself overseeing a team of several hundred professionals for the first time.
“Joe is an important complement to the firm’s preeminent global corporate practice,” Aiello said in a statement. “His vast experience and sophisticated knowledge of complex transactional tax matters is unmatched in the marketplace.”
Pari expects the Big Four firms will continue to be appealing destinations for tax attorneys, noting that the scale of their tax practices means that they can absorb significantly larger numbers than Big Law.
“I think they have great practices, interesting work, and a lot of very interesting people,” he said.
In November, when former PwC managing director Michael Lebovitz moved to Mayer Brown, Lebowitz noted that he was unable to serve many of his clients who used the Big Four firm as an auditor.
But Pari said that while many Big Four clients limit the amount of non-audit work they do with their auditing firm, there are many others who do not.
“That’s varied from client to client,” he said.