Claire Hofman, LLM

The lowest grades for my Bachelor’s degrees might be the ones I am the proudest of.

Claire Hofman

Different hats
“I have always had different positions within Erasmus School of Law. Currently, I am the programme director of the double degree Toga aan de Maas, I am preparing for the defence of my doctoral thesis on Penal Tax Law, I am working on the completion of the courses of Procedural Tax Law in the bachelor and master and the course Legal Academic Skills for tax law students. In addition, I contribute to research into a law aiming to prevent money laundering and the funding of terrorism, and I also contribute to a criminal evaluation of the advisory committee for those serving a death sentence. I also have an on-call contract with an office that offers tax opinions. Every week is different for me, which is nice.”

Not made for the tax consulting practice
“After finishing my two masters in Maastricht, I briefly worked at a big four company, but that did not suit me. After signing a contract at a law firm, I bumped into a vacancy for a teaching job at Erasmus School of Law, so eventually I never started at that firm. At Maastricht University, master students with good grades can tutor focus groups within Problem-Based Learning (PBL), so I already had some experience with the teaching form. In Maastricht, I discovered my passion for working at a university and teaching. I also always had the ambition to obtain a doctorate. Therefore, I decided to apply at Erasmus School of Law, and I started working here in 2014 as a tutor, despite the fact that I was about to start at a law firm. I have always had the impression that by working in education you can make a difference for the younger generation. You can help them, which energises me. It energises me more than writing documents for the clients of a tax consultants’ office.

Currently, I am the programme director of the master Toga aan de Maas, so I work closely with the master coordinator Eva Roosendaal. She mainly focuses on student affairs, and I am involved with the content of the programme. For example, I review the curriculum and the admission requirements, but I also maintain relationships with our associate law firms. They offer us masterclasses and provide internships to our students. I evaluate our programme with the associates, and I assess whether they want to stay associated with our education. I also think about the content of the different courses in our master.”

Summoned by the boss
“When Toga aan de Maas was rebooted in 2015, I was asked to apply for the position of coordinator of this programme. I had only worked as a tutor for a year, and because of my involvement with Toga aan de Maas, I met Joost Nan and Paul Mevis, who, together with Maarten Verbrugh and Ruben Houweling, led the way in the reboot of the master. That is how I eventually ended up in the Criminal Law department.

My route to the Tax Law department has been quite remarkable. When I worked as a tutor in Maastricht, I was pretty diligent and made schemes on the blackboard for the students. In Maastricht, this was never an issue, but in Rotterdam, tutors are expected to ask questions instead of giving answers to stimulate the students to study themselves. A couple of my fellow ex-tutors were not too happy about my scheme making, so I was summoned to the supervisor of the tutorpool. Sigrid Hemels, professor of Tax Law at Erasmus School of Law, heard of this, but luckily she did not mind too much and even asked whether I would be interested in obtaining a doctorate within the Tax Law department. So that was a blessing in disguise.”

Surrounded by inspiring and helpful people
 
“My promotors Paul Mevis and Guido de Bont inspire me a great deal. They openly talk about their ideas and substantiate those really well and the way they assess my papers; working with them has been a great experience. I mainly write about tax-related issues, but Paul Mevis, Professor of Criminal Law, knows surprisingly much about this subject and asks the right questions to help me in my research. He also revived my enthusiasm for criminal law. Although Guido de Bont is a Professor of Tax Law, he draws my attention to a particular verdict by the Civil department of the Supreme Court from 2006, for example.

Sigrid Hemels inspires me as well. She manages to combine all her different positions and even takes time for the younger colleagues of the Tax Law department. Although she is no longer the head of the department, she is still someone with whom employees like to exchange thoughts about possible career moves or the content of concept papers. She truly takes time for these things. Reinout Kok is another example of such a person. They honestly want to help, no strategies involved. That is admirable.”

Too little hours in a week
“I personally think a lot of PhD candidates find it a challenge to combine research, education and a PhD track, because there is a limited amount of hours in a week. In my own experience, the combination of a full-time teaching job with writing a thesis was doable; writing is, of course a hobby. However, the deadline of my temporary appointment did stress me out. Luckily, I got some extra months to finish my thesis properly. Now I can look forward to my PhD defence on 8 July.”

Wishing for a thousand kids
“Erasmus School of Law is a nice working environment, and I am not all bored with the School just yet. My work has a lot of variety, and I have a wide variety of tasks. I do not have a specific future goal. I judge my ambitions in the moment and I will see where the road takes me. For example, I am currently focussing on my two earlier-mentioned research projects and my PhD defence. After that, I will see what comes my way within the School. As long as I get good opportunities, I am happy here. I do however find it important to keep myself busy with challenging things.

I wholeheartedly hope that I can keep combining my work with my private life in a proper manner. I have a little daughter and would love to have a thousand children, because kids are the greatest thing on earth. At the same time, I really enjoy my job and definitely do not want to say no to great opportunities. I have no clue what the future holds, but combining work and private life, both on an established level, is something I wish to be able to continue to do. Luckily, until now, that is going really well.”

You only live once
“I studied Criminal Law and Tax Law in Maastricht. Eventually I had an amazing study time there, but the first two years were horrible. As a seventeen-year-old I moved from Amersfoort to Maastricht, which was a bit stressful, because I knew no one in Maastricht. I luckily met someone during the introduction who did not like beer either, so we have been friends ever since. In the first two years, I experienced a lot of homesickness. After my classes on Thursday, I went straight home to Amersfoort, and on Monday, I came back as late as possible. I did however get very high grades, because I studied a lot.

After two years, everything changed because of serious medical issues. It made me realise that you only live once and that idea luckily never left me. I am incredibly grateful for everything I have. In my study time, this meant I wanted to do a lot more in addition to studying, so I joined several different associations. My life changed completely; I started going out, seldomly went home and even got some lower grades. During my job interview at the law firm, I was asked about these grades. I told them these grades are the ones I am the proudest of. In the last year of my bachelor and in my masters, I still enjoyed studying and I liked writing my theses.”

Privileged position
“If I could give some advise to students, that would be to remind yourself of the privileged position a student at a university has. On an intellectual and on a financial level, students are very fortunate, which is not the case for everyone. Having fun during your study time is important, but I also enjoyed the lectures. It is important that students realise how inspiring their lecturers can be; that is very special and essentially different from a non-academic institute. I hope – when it is possible again – to see a lot more students on campus and in the lecture halls.”

 

Most beautiful memory?

The birth of my daughter;

What is your hobby?

Fixing things around the house, Feyenoord, gardening, sports, shopping and going out;

What is your favourite music?

I understand little about music, but I am a Justin Bieber fan, and so is my daughter;

What is your favourite book?

A book I recently read and really made my laugh is 'Wen er maar aan’ by Maike Meijer;

What is your favourite TV-show?

‘Ik Vertrek’ or ‘Heel Holland Bakt’;

What is your favourite travel destination?Switserland/Northern Italy;
What is your favourite food?

Bruschetta or white asparagus;

What was your dream job?

School teacher, my brother and I used to pretend to be in school, I was the teacher and he was a student;

How would others describe you in three words?

Serious, involved and active;

What is your favourite quote?

"All small bits help", that idea got me through the process of writing my thesis, for example;

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