At the University of Oxford, alumnus Dr. Amir Pichhadze (MSc. in Higher Education) was described as “a Renaissance man… a source of inspiration and pride to our Oxonian community.” (The Oxford Student newspaper, Feb 15, 2022).
Driven by his varying interests and utilizing his mixed talents, skills, and diverse knowledge, Amir’s activities have been impactful in a range of spheres. His activities have included, among others, creating visual art, working as an art dealer, teaching law, conducting and publishing academic research, providing policy advice to government agencies, editing law journals, providing peer-reviews of journal submissions, working as treasurer and conducting philanthropic projects.
During his youth, Amir’s focus centered on the visual arts. Under the guidance of his father, the master artist Jacob Pichhadze, Amir developed his expertise in painting and drawing, using different styles, techniques, and mediums. His artworks have been described as "bold and evocative". (York University Gazette, February 25, 1998). Reflecting on his artworks at that time, Miriam Chinsky, a contributing writer for the Canadian Jewish News, commented as follows: “What does a 20-year-old artist have to say on pastel board or canvas? Plenty, if he is Amir Pichhadze. And with remarkable insight.” (Canadian Jews News, July 11, 1996)
Amir’s talents, skills and knowledge of the visual arts were demonstrated and recognized throughout his academic journey. For example, during his studies at Newtonbrook Secondary School, Linda Genova, the Program Head of the Visual Arts Department, commented that, with respect to the discipline of painting, “considering their technical virtuosity and the conceptual merits, Amir’s paintings were truly exceptional.” With regards to the study of art history, she stated that “with great commitment and motivation, Amir sought to investigate the evolution of art, the contributions of renowned artists, as well as techniques, styles and theories…” and that “beyond his grasp of painting and art history, Amir demonstrated excellent work ethic, responsibility, and sociability.” Upon completion of his secondary school studies, Amir was designated as an Ontario Scholar. Shelley Stillman, an elected trustee on the North York Board of Education, commented that Amir is “a source of pride to Newtonbrook Secondary School.”
Amir proceeded to pursue undergraduate studies at York University where Professor Ken Carpenter, the former Visual Arts Department Chair and President of the Canadian Section of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA Canada), commented that “in the history of the Visual Arts Department we have not previously had an occasion like this where a student has shown the particular kind of ability that Amir has shown. We are very proud of Amir!” York University President, Dr. Lorna R. Marsden, commented that “Amir is a very fine student. His grades are consistently high and outside his scholarly work, his many activities have added to the very high standing in which he is held by this University… He is a fine citizen, a great personality, and holds tremendous promise.”
Even though Amir was enrolled in the Visual Arts Department at York University, his interests and studies were more diverse. For example, he undertook the study of philosophy. Professor John B. Ridpath, who taught Amir about the role of philosophical ideas in Western society, commented that “Amir is an excellent student, an accomplished young man, an unusually reflective person, and a very responsible, pleasant, and thoughtful individual. His academic abilities and motivation are first-rate. He researches carefully, thinks deeply, is able to essentialize clearly and accurately, and exhibits both serious respect for what he studies and a joy in it. He is clearly hard at work, building the basis for a thoughtful, informed, and meaningful life. In all this, he is a rare find amongst students—serious, independent, always prepared, and a considerate and well-received peer.” Amir also studied politics. Dr. Michael Michie, the Chair of Political Science at York University’s School of Social Sciences, commented that “in my politics course, Mr. Pichhadze stood out as the most hard-working and committed student. His essays were thoroughly researched (demonstrating a strong ability to carryout independent research), analytically sophisticated and persuasive.”
During his undergraduate studies at York University, Amir was also introduced to different areas of the law by his brother, Dr. Aviv Pichhadze. This influenced Amir to develop an interest in legal studies. In support of Amir’s application for legal studies, Dr. Lorna Marsden, President of York University, commented that “to have Amir in law would be of great benefit. He has the talent, the intelligence, the persistence and the personality for this field.” Amir went on to pursue legal studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where he obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) specializing in Taxation. Following his studies at the LSE, Amir proceeded to obtain practical experience by working as a judicial law clerk at the Tax Court of Canada.
Following his clerkship at the Tax Court of Canada, Amir went on to also pursue a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Tax and a Doctor of the Science of Law (S.J.D.), both at the University of Michigan Law School. In these programs, he carried out research under the supervision of Professor Reuven S. Avi-Yonah. Based on this research, in 2015 Amir called on the OECD to rethink some of its recommendations in its Transfer Pricing Guidelines. Amir’s proposals were also published in the peer-reviewed World Tax Journal. Subsequently, as was noted in the Canadian Tax Journal, in 2017 the OECD implemented these proposals in its revised transfer pricing guidelines.
In light of his distinguished reputation and expertise in tax law, Amir was invited to provide tax policy advise at the Department of Finance in Canada, was a guest speaker at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and was also a full-time and guest lecturer and speaker at universities around the world, including:
- University of Cambridge (UK)
- Law School, University of Michigan (USA)
- Law School, the London School of Economics (UK)
- School of Law, Queen Mary University of London (UK)
- Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (Canada)
- Faculty of Law, McGill University (Canada)
- Saint Petersburg University of Economics (Russia)
- Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University (Australia)
At the University of Cambridge, Amir was described as “a prolific and energetic thinker in the field of Tax Law.” Amir’s research was presented at conferences worldwide, awarded prizes, and published and cited in books, journals, newspapers and student dissertations. Part of his research was carried out as a Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance and as a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law at WU.
Amir’s students have described him as “one of the best teachers that taught us…." They further commented that "Amir demonstrated a strong and deep understanding of the materials he was teaching…. Additionally, he is a true inspirer who is always committed to his work and dedicated to helping his students.”
At York University, Professor Eric Willis noted that “Amir is a young man who has demonstrated not only an impressive and well rounded intellect—which his university transcript clearly documents—but also a socially conscious entrepreneurial spirit.” This social consciousness has been greatly influenced by Amir’s father, Jacob Pichhadze. Over the years, Jacob has used his art to help support numerous philanthropic projects. A notable example of Amir’s own ventures is his fundraising art exhibition at York University, which contributed to the University’s scholarship fund. Professor Willis noted that this fundraiser “turned out to be an enormously successful fundraising art exhibition in our college.” The Deputy Mayor of Toronto, Case Ootes, who was a guest of honour at the exhibition’s opening reception, commented that Amir "is helping to define the soul of the new city through culture … obviously from what I’ve seen, he’s got a promising future” (York University’s Excalibur, March 4, 1998).” Dr. Seth Felman, the Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University, also commented at the opening reception of the exhibition as follows: “This is one of the most successful student exhibitions I have attended, and I have been Dean for six years now.” (Exodus, June 1998) In the University’s Gazette newspaper, Dr. Lorna Marsden, another guest of honor at the opening reception, was quoted as saying that "we are proud to have such a gifted artist and generous student as part of the York community… I applaud Amir for his artistry and altruism.” (York University Gazette, Feb 25, 1998).