Nancy Ortmeyer-Kuhn is a Director in Jackson & Campbell, P.C.’s Business Law Practice Group, specializing in a variety of federal and state tax and non-tax matters and litigation in federal and state courts. She is also the Chair of Jackson & Campbell’s Tax Law Practice Group. Before private practice she worked for the IRS for ten years.
She was named a Super Lawyer in 2020 and 2021 by Washington D.C. Super Lawyers, a supplement of the Washington Lawyer.
Nancy is active in several musical ensembles. She directs a handbell choir. Sings with the Washington Chorus and is currently the President. She performs frequently at the John F. Kennedy Center and looks forward to singing at the trademark Candlelight Christmas concerts this December, with renewed excitement after a year of Zoom rehearsals and digital concerts!
Why did you join the WBA?
I had attended a few events of which my firm was a sponsor, and really enjoyed meeting and networking with members. It is a great group of very dynamic women (and men) and it has been a privilege to be a co-chair and become friends with so many talented people.
When did you join?
What committees/forums have you been involved in?
Originally I was a co-chair of the Tax and Business Forum. I have more recently been the co-chair of the 20+ Committee and Women in Politics and Policy for several years.
What benefits do you get from being a part of the WBA and why do you think others should join?
The benefit of friendship is first and foremost, but I have also benefitted from referrals from other members. I now have several great clients as a result of WBA referrals. It also gives me a network of attorneys to whom I can refer my clients who need assistance with non-tax issues. I can be assured that anyone I refer will be well represented. I also enjoy the programs and events put on by the WBA, and have learned a lot and been inspired by the amazing speakers at WBA events.
How has being a parent enhanced your career?
My daughter was born at the end of my second year of law school, and so she was a big motivator in keeping my work-life balance intact. I went straight through for a fourth year of law school to get my LL.M. in tax, partly to give me a more flexible schedule with my daughter. I then worked for the Tax Court and Internal Revenue Service to provide a more family friendly schedule, along with providing me with interesting and challenging work. My son came along later, and so I continued at the government for a total of 10 years before going into private practice. Once in private practice, I stayed with smaller firms and discovered work-life balance was possible there as well.
Do you have a mentor/hero?
I have taken inspiration from a variety of individuals, but I would say my first and most important mentor was the Judge I clerked for at the US Tax Court. Judge Peterson recruited me from the University of Denver to come to Washington DC. He was an alum and so recruited LL.M. grads from DU. During my phone interview with Judge Peterson, my two year old daughter was screaming in the background since I wasn’t paying attention to her. He took it in stride and asked if I needed to attend to her—-and still gave me the job! After moving to DC, he continued to mentor me and encouraged me to stay with the government. He pointed out that the IRS handles one side of all tax cases before the court, and so I would have the opportunity to handle complex issues not always available in private practice. He then facilitated my first job with the IRS through his connections.
What words of advice do you have for women new to the profession?
I advise women new to the profession to take control of their career from the beginning and set boundaries. If the hours are horrendous and health and family life is negatively impacted, then the new attorney probably needs to take a step back and decide if that lifestyle is sustainable. Also, if a young attorney is working in an area of the law that she is not excited about, then it is time for a change. A career is long, and it is important to find work that is challenging and fulfilling from the beginning, while still providing a schedule that is manageable. A law degree gives so much flexibility and opportunity to women, we just need to look for it!
What is the best advice you have received?
I think the best advice that I received was from my husband, who encouraged me to go to law school in the first place. I had undergraduate and graduate degrees in music and tried a music career but it was not for me. I also had a part-time job as a legal secretary and realized I could do the work my boss was doing just as well as he. My initial instinct was to become a paralegal because the educational investment of time was so much shorter, but my husband said no. If I was going to shift to a legal career I needed to be a lawyer. He then also supported me with our decision that I would attend a fourth year of law school to get my LL.M. in tax. That started my career as a tax attorney, and I have never looked back.
What other organizations are you involved in?
I am the WBA representative and a founding board member of 131 & Counting. It is a relatively new networking group of women lawyers and lobbyists, including Capitol Hill staffers. We celebrate the 131 and counting women members of the House of Representatives and Senate. I am also a member of the Murdoch Inn of Court, which is a specialized Inn for tax attorneys. I am a member of the D.C. Bar and a member of the Fulbright Association.