40 Years of Influence: Linda Goold

While most of the charter class only knew Rex Lee in the context of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Linda Goold considered him a long-time friend. After graduating from law school, Lee was awarded a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship, and Goold served as was a babysitter for his children. During that time she expressed her desire to attend law school.

In August 1973, Lee, who Goold had stayed in contact with, asked, “Do you really want to go to law school?” She replied, “Yes, I do. I want a change in my life.” Lee replied, “Well, you can come to Provo in three weeks if you want to.” At the time, BYU was largely unheard of in the East where Goold resided. “If [anyone] had heard of it, they thought it was a little Bible-thumper college,” she said. Goold decided to attend BYU Law, and she became one of the few women in the charter class.

For Goold, the experience was not one she could have predicted. “I certainly had no idea I would be at BYU Law School, and I certainly had no idea that it would be in the charter class, and I certainly had no idea that it was going to be eight women against all these men and that I would meet over the course of law school some of the most interesting, lively, creative, crazy, and brilliant people that I have known in my life,” she said.

The law school Goold was initially reluctant to attend changed her life. “It was really transformative in every way, and it has been the most powerful love–hate relationship of my entire life,” she said.

After graduating from law school, Goold had what she calls a “providential experience” while searching for job prospects. While on Capitol Hill, she ran into Senator Cliff Hansen, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee. Goold had worked for Hansen when she was younger, and after running into him, he offered her a job. Goold was very successful working for Hansen. “We succeeded in having capital gains tax lowered from 49 percent to 28 percent. That was a great adventure,” she said.

In her next job, Goold helped start the National Tax Practice for Arthur Anderson’s accounting firm. “I spent all of my career not practicing law, but making law,” she said. Goold spent her time working between the Senate Finance Committee and the House of Ways and Means Committee, either as a Senate employee or working with the attorneys on the tax writing committee staff.

Goold describes herself as a “straight dealer” throughout her life. “I was unusual in the sense that I really felt very strongly that if I was going to be working with my clients to get the laws changed, I had to know not only what my client needed, but I also needed to know why my client was wrong,” she said.

Goold helped found the Women Tax Lawyers group at a time when women were not common in the field of law. “Law schools were not 50 percent women at all,” she said. The Women Tax Lawyers group included women who were involved in the legislative process, both in government in D.C. working as staff or at the U.S. Treasury working on tax matters. The group has been successful for the past 35 years and still continues to be successful. “It’s viewed as a real feather in your cap if you get admitted to the group—all lawyers, and all smart, sharp women,” Goold said.