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How Community Development Jobs Offer Career Options for Lawyers

Community development jobs revolve around federal and state government programs that provide funding to benefit local communities and society as a whole (ex: affordable housing programs).

These unique law graduate jobs make great alternative careers for lawyers. The work is a unique and rewarding blend of real estate development, economic development, tax law and finance that helps the community while also helping banks comply with the Community Reinvestment Act.

Our guest, Marc Hirshman, is the Director of Tax Credit Syndications and New Business Development at the US Bankcorp Community Development Corporation in St. Louis. He tells us that jobs in community development make great alternative careers to do with a law degree – whether at government agencies, financial institutions or real estate development companies.

Become a JD Careers Out There member or join the JD Refugee® class for access to this interview plus more day-in-the-life career videos & transcripts.

Today’s Guest

Marc Hirshman, community development executiveCommunity Development Exec Marc Hirshman
Title: President, Twain Financial Partners
City: St. Louis, MO
Law School: Chicago-Kent College of Law (JD, LL.M. in Tax)
College: University of Illinois in Champaign, IL
Previous Careers: At the time of this interview, Marc was a Senior VP at US Bank where he was Director of Tax Credit Syndications and New Business Development of their US Bankcorp Community Development Corporation. In 2013, he co-founded Twain Financial Partners to help the ventures that didn’t fit the USBCDC platform. Prior to USB, Marc was a real estate developer after working as a full-time volunteer for Habitat For Humanity after law school.
Marc’s Videos: Community Development Jobs & Marc Hirshman’s Career Advice

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Community Development Jobs

Due to the legal skills involved, financial institutions who take part in community development programs like to hire JDs to handle everything from compliance to business development, project management, asset management and tax credit syndications.

Someone in tax credit syndications, for example, might get to help their local community by overseeing the bank’s investments in renewable energy, affordable housing, new markets and historic building rehabilitation in exchange for a credit to the bank’s tax bill that exceeds the bank’s investment in the projects and helps the bank comply with the Community Reinvestment Act.

As Marc tells us in this career video, being a lawyer isn’t enough for community development jobs: if you’re not passionate about improving the community around you, then you need not apply.



This is a preview of the transcript for the video on working in tax credit development.

Join JD Careers Out There for access to the full version of this transcript plus the career guidance video library & transcripts.

Luber: Hey everyone – welcome to JD CareersOutThere, where we get you career advice from fellow lawyers and non-practicing lawyers to help you find success and happiness in your career – whether you choose to practice law or you’re leaving the law to pursue alternative careers for lawyers.

I’m your host Marc Luber, the founder of JDCOT. I’ve always used my law degree to work in alternative careers for lawyers – first in the music industry and then as a legal recruiter. I’ve been helping lawyers with their careers since 2003 and I’m excited for the opportunity to help you.

Today we’re exploring the career path of community development.

We’re talking to my old friend from law school, Marc Hirshman, who’s a Sr VP of US Bank in St. Louis, where he’s the Director of Tax Credit Syndications and New Business Development for their US Bankcorp Community Development Corporation. Here’s a little look at our discussion where Marc explains what the community development path is all about.

Marc Hirshman: Community development work is a pretty broad category. It ranges really anywhere from doing real estate development to kind of straight up economic development. It can range from work within municipalities, work within the private sector, and it could really encompass the actual development to the financing to the other governmental incentives or programs that are utilized to make it happen.

And we at – where I work, at U.S. Bank’s Community Development Corporation, specifically do the tax credit equity investing in a number of different Federal and State programs.

Luber: Okay. So, I think what I get really excited about is this tax credit equity investing. I want to learn about that and explain that so everyone can get a good grasp here of what exactly that means.

Marc Hirshman: So, essentially the Federal government and often State and local governments utilize tax code to implement public policy.

So, for instance, there’s a program called the Affordable Housing or Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, which has been around for roughly 25 years. And what the government does is it creates tax credits to provide economic benefit to encourage developers to develop through this program to create affordable housing for low income families.

Luber: I want to make sure everyone gets the fact that there’s a cool, do-gooder angle to this that I really like.

So, you’re really helping in a sense, and the tax code is set up to help society in this sense. So you guys will invest in affordable housing, and help that get developed and help the renewable energy space get developed and help buildings get rehabbed, refurbished for the purpose of helping the community and then in exchange for that, getting a tax credit for the money that was put into that project. Is that right?

Marc Hirshman: Exactly! So, really and that’s the reason that most financial institutions, our financial institution, is involved in these programs is that, you know, number one, there’s a community benefit to it and that’s what really drives a lot of people within the industry and why people are interested in participating or being members of the industry, is that at the end of the day, there’s a tangible benefit to society, whether it’s the creation of a new business or a new building or a new renewable energy source or affordable housing or, you know, saving a building that might otherwise be torn down. So there’s that community aspect.

There’s the financial benefits of by investing these tax credits, the investments provide a good financial benefit to the investment community, whether again, it’s a financial institution or a large – other large corporation generally.

And so you provide all of these things. And then for the banks, there is an additional element or component of it: is that banks are subject to the Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA. And this satisfies, whether it’s an investment or a loan, it satisfies or helps fulfill the need to comply with the Community Reinvestment Act.

Luber: So, then your division, or your role, is helping the community and then offsetting the tax burden that the bank has for other business that they do.

Marc Hirshman: Correct. Correct.

Luber: I love the mix of the business and the do-gooder angles for this career path. In the Full Interview, Marc and I will go more in-depth into community development careers and you’re gonna learn more about what he does in community development, how you can do it, how you can break in – and how your JD applies to this path.

You’ll want to join the JDCOT membership for access to the full, in-depth career interviews & transcripts that will help you find and land a career that fits you. Check out what people have to say about JDCOT by clicking here.

Thanks again for watching everybody. I’m Marc Luber and I’ll see ya soon.

[theme song]

©2019 Careers Out There

What do you think of this mix of business with the do-gooder angle? Be sure to share your feedback in the Comments below!

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JDCOT's self-reflection questionnaire 


Thinking of leaving the law? The best first step you can take is a good look in the mirror. START HERE:

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You’ll also get periodic updates, reminders & access to career guidance programs sent to your inbox. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe via a click at any time.