Women in Tax: Q&A with Zahra Nurmohamed, Tax Counsel and Senior Director of Professional Development at KPMG Law LLP

  • June 05, 2021
  • Zahra Nurmohamed

Hi Zahra, I have a set of questions to get to know you better and to learn about your unique experiences as a woman in tax law. Our intention is to give other lawyers and law students insight into potential career choices in tax law and words of advice on how to build a successful tax practice. Let’s get started.

Can you describe your career progression in tax law, including why you chose tax law or did it choose you?

When I was in law school, I thought I was going to become a corporate lawyer.  I’m a first generation Canadian. My family and I immigrated to Canada from Uganda in the early 70’s.  My mom worked in the home and took care of me and my three siblings.  My dad did not have any “Canadian experience,” so he worked long hours at a convenience store during the day and took some accounting courses at night. He eventually acquired his own convenience store, and over time, he set up his own corporation and he and my brother went into the restaurant business.  I spent my summers working in the business and learned about how a private corporation operates. 

During my second year of law school, I focussed on corporate law courses but also took Canadian and US “Baby Tax” and was particularly interested in tax policy.  When I began articling at Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP (now Dentons Canada LLP), tax was my first rotation and I loved the work!  My tax assignments were very much like law school. I would be asked to research specific terms that were often not defined in the Income Tax Act (Canada) to understand their meaning in the context of the particular transaction or issue that my supervising lawyers were working on at the relevant time.  I also had the opportunity to write articles and summarize cases that were incorporated into various loose-leaf and on-line publications that are still in existence today.  I enjoyed our weekly tax group meetings where associates and partners would come together to discuss and debate recent tax cases, proposed legislation and recent Canada Revenue Agency views.  I spent my second rotation in the business law group and also rotated through our real estate, employment and labour and litigation groups.  Somehow, I managed to continue to work on tax files throughout my articling year, so I guess it was a combination of me choosing tax and tax choosing me!