Phillip L. Mann, member of Miller and Chevalier Chtd., former firm chair and Treasury tax legislative counsel, died on June 3, according to the firm.
Colleagues expressed admiration for him as a practitioner and as a person.
"The combination of his good judgment and sound advice, with his warm and outgoing nature, really made him somewhat unique," Lawrence B. Gibbs of Miller & Chevalier said. Gibbs, a Tax Analysts board member, knew Mann for more than 50 years, going back to their time as law school classmates. "If you talk to 'competitors,' Phil was still a friend. He was someone other lawyers sought out to ask him his thoughts about particular events, particular matters."
Born in Alva, Oklahoma, Mann earned his LLB and BBA from the University of Texas in 1962. Following graduation, he worked at Houston firm Fulbright & Jaworski, where he made partner. Mann joined Miller & Chevalier in 1982. Before that, he served as Treasury deputy tax legislative counsel (1973-74) and tax legislative counsel (1974-75) for Presidents Nixon and Ford. He also worked as chair of the Commissioner's Advisory Group at the IRS (1987-88 and 1994-96). He first served in that position at the request of Gibbs, when Gibbs was IRS commissioner.
"For more than three decades, lawyers at Miller & Chevalier had the great honor of working alongside a giant in the Tax bar," Anthony F. Shelley, chair of Miller & Chevalier's Executive Committee, said in a press release. "Phil was a preeminent lawyer, a strong leader both inside and outside the firm, a loyal colleague and a cherished friend to his clients and peers. He will be greatly missed by so many."
Mann's practice was wide-reaching and included tax planning, controversy, and legislative and policy work for foreign and domestic clients. He represented large corporate taxpayers, the energy industry, and the financial services industry. Mann also previously served as president of the American Tax Policy Institute (ATPI), a nonpartisan educational organization on federal, state and local, and international tax policy issues.
Stephen E. Shay of Harvard University Law School and current president of ATPI said that Mann, one of the longest serving trustees of ATPI, was a "terrific force for good tax policy and a source of good judgment."
"Phil understood how [Washington] worked, particularly in the tax area," Gibbs said, noting that the breadth of his background and experience made his advice highly prized among clients and his judgment on issues or on how to deal with the IRS, Treasury, Congress, or the courts "legendary."
Shay, who is also a former Treasury deputy assistant secretary (international tax affairs), also praised Mann's judgment, saying he benefited from it while serving his most recent stint with Treasury. Shay said that during that time, he would meet with Mann for lunch every three or four months to discuss what was in the best interests of the government, taxpayers, and the business community.
"Phil would be very clear if he was acting for a client, but if he wasn't, you could be confident you were getting his best unvarnished view of what the right answer was," Shay said. "I'm hoping the people in the government still see that every day. I'm not sure they do."
Mann earned numerous honors from his colleagues over his career. A former chair of the organization itself, in 2012 Mann received the American Bar Association Section of Taxation Distinguished Service Award. He also served as the tax section's first coordinator with the IRS Large and Midsize Business Division during and after the agency's reorganization. He twice won the Parker C. Fielder Award for Outstanding Service and Achievement in Oil and Gas Taxation and once earned the Alan B. Levenson Award, given to those in the legal profession who exemplify high ethics and legal standards.
"It is a sad day for Miller & Chevalier. Phil was a mentor for me and many others with our firm," George A. Hani of Miller & Chevalier said. "He was an outstanding tax lawyer and even better person. One of the kindest and most generous people I know. He was beloved by clients and very active with many friends in the ABA Tax Section and other tax groups."
"Phil's touchstone in life was friendship. Clients became friends with Phil," Gibbs said. True to his nature, Mann and his wife, Barbra, entertained professional colleagues and clients frequently, Gibbs noted.