Gaining Practical Experience
Federal Tax Clinic
The Federal Tax Clinic represents low-income clients who are engaged in income tax controversies with the Internal Revenue Service. The students seek ethical solutions to the clients’ tax problems while working in the environment of a small law firm. The Federal Tax Clinic was created to help taxpayer clients who otherwise might go without representation in dealing with matters concerning the Internal Revenue Service.
Clients come to the Federal Tax Clinic through referrals from private attorneys, the Bar Association, social service agencies, and previous clients. The clinic’s students take a teamwork approach, presenting the facts and suggesting possible solutions. In examining possible outcomes, students come to understand and learn the process of arriving at the solution.
Along with learning practical matters such as how to open a file, how to meet with the IRS, and how to draft basic legal documents, students learn that helping clients does not always mean receiving a decision in the client’s favor. Helping does, however, always mean identifying the problem, suggesting potential solutions, and counseling the client about the pros and cons of each potential solution.
The Federal Tax Clinic is directed by Mike Novy, former appeals team chief with the IRS. The clinic is staffed by law students who are supervised and trained by the director and assistant director. The director secures a special order from the director of practice authorizing students to practice before the IR S and enters into an agreement with the chief judge of the U.S. Tax Court authorizing students to practice in the Tax Court.
The clinic class meets for two hours each week. The class is composed of lectures, simulations, and class projects that emphasize the understanding of various Internal Revenue Service documents, forms, and correspondence.
This course also covers interview skills and negotiation techniques, and stresses the absolute necessity of taxpayer confidentiality when representing a taxpayer before the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Tax Court.
Recognizing the value of practical, on-site experience, the School of Law offers an extensive program of externships. The program seeks to provide students with practical experience under the supervision of tax professionals, practicing attorneys, and judges. The program offers an opportunity for students to develop and improve lawyering skills, incorporate the values of the professional, and establish good work habits in a professional and academic environment.