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Nizam Shajani

July 11, 2022


In 2014, the price of oil began crashing on world markets. Soon enough, Alberta’s formerly high-flying economy began to swoon as well – and it didn’t take long before Calgary-based accountant Nizam Shajani noticed a change in his clients.

“They became a lot more sensitive to expenses, and a lot more concerned with minimizing taxes,” he recalls.

They were also looking for more opportunities outside of the province’s turbulent, resource-focused economy – in some cases planning to set up businesses in other countries.

That meant they were coming to him with more complicated tax queries than ever, including questions about international tax issues that he simply wasn’t equipped to answer.

Shajani wasn’t a novice accountant; he possessed an MBA in Finance and Accounting and for years he and his brother had operated the accounting firm founded by their father in the 1980s – and tax issues, more than anything else, were his passion. Still, he was running up more frequently against the limits of his knowledge, especially when it came to legal concerns.

“The longer you work in tax, the more you run into issues around law and legal precedent,” he says. “The need for more sophisticated knowledge and expertise was becoming more and more pronounced, and not having it was holding me back from helping my clients.”

In 2019, he enrolled in Osgoode’s LLM in Taxation Law, aiming to attain these skills. He found much more than that: a program and a faculty that vaulted his knowledge to a new level, bringing him face-to-face with faculty who count among the top practitioners in the field, as well as a challenging, enriching curriculum.

Most rewarding of all, he says, was the way the program immersed him in up-to-the-minute developments in tax law, placing him at the centre of the Canadian legal universe.

“One day really stands out as illustrating that,” he says. “We had former Supreme Court Justice Marshall Rothstein as a guest speaker in class. That exact same day, one of his decisions was being debated as precedent in a different high-profile Supreme Court case. We got to ask him about that as we watched a livestream of the case. In that same trial, they were referencing the work of Professor Jinyan Li. It really felt real, relevant and phenomenal; you get literally up close with these important and influential people.”

Another of those people was Professor Scott Wilkie, who serves as a co-director of Osgoode’s LLM in Taxation Law alongside Professor Li. Professor Wilkie was an international-tax law expert whose coursework and insights helped provide Shajani with the global perspective he’d been missing in his client work.

Since graduating, he’s returned repeatedly to his coursework and research papers when helping clients navigate international tax and business deals. And he’s been able to take advantage of his former classmates, who have become a cross-country network of colleagues sharing referrals, insights and services.

“Doing tax law, you’re happy when your clients are happy,” says Shajani. “And I can say that a lot more often these days.”

Want to learn more about the Professional LLM in Taxation Law? Sign up for an Information Session!

Nizam Shajani Headshot

Nizam Shajani, LL.M (tax), CPA, CA, TEP, MBA, BBA is a graduate of Osgoode’s LLM in Taxation Law and is now a partner at Shajani LLP. He is a highly skilled and trusted advisor with a professional background in accounting, tax and law.