Tax lawyer Samuel Coleman Thompson, Jr. was born on October 25, 1943 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Thompson and his family can trace their lineage to the 1600s. After Thompson and his family moved to the industrial town of Steelton, Pennsylvania in 1948, he graduated from Steelton High School in 1961. Thompson then received his B.S. degree from West Chester University in Pennsylvania and his M.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School and Graduate School of Economics in 1969.
Between Thompson’s first and second years of law school at the University of Pennsylvania, he was drafted into the Vietnam War, where he served for three years. During Thompson’s tenure, he rose to the rank of Captain, serving as Commanding Officer of Headquarters Company and received the Navy Commendation Medal. After returning to the United States, Thompson received his J.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and began working as a legal writing instructor.
Between 1971 and 1972, Thompson worked briefly for Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York. Shortly thereafter, he earned his L.L.M. degree in taxation from New York University while working as an assistant and associate professor of law at Northwestern University. In 1976, Thompson published his first book, Pension Reform: How to Comply with ERISA, and served as an attorney advisor in the Office of Tax Legislative Counsel and International Tax Counsel for the U.S. Treasury Department.
In 1977, Thompson joined the faculty at the University of Virginia School of Law until 1981. He then served as the partner-in-charge of the tax department at the law firm of Schiff Hardin & Waite in Chicago, Illinois until 1990, when he joined the UCLA Law School faculty. There, Thompson taught courses on mergers and acquisitions and corporate taxation.
In 1994, Thompson left UCLA’s Law School to become the Dean of the University of Miami School of Law. During his tenure, Thompson created the Center for the Study of Mergers and Acquisitions and transferred it to the UCLA School of Law when he moved back to California in 2003. There, Thompson established the school’s first two endowed chairs, the Center for Ethics & Public Service and the Children and Youth Law Clinic.
Thompson published numerous books throughout his professional career including Federal Income Taxation of Domestic and Foreign Business Transactions, An Examination of the Effect of Recent Legislation on Commodity Tax Straddles and Investment Tax Credit: Alternative to the President’s Flawed Dividend Plan, Financed by ETI Repeal (Extraterritorial Income Exclusion).
Thompson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 17, 2007.