Student Supervision, Three Level Review, and Weekly Meetings
As a member of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, you will be working on cases under the supervision of the Clinic’s attorneys. Each student will be assigned a primary supervising attorney. This is the attorney you will meet with on a weekly basis to discuss the progression of your cases, and this attorney will also serve as your primary point of contact for any substantive questions that arise. Substantive questions include issues such as:
- how best to resolve a case
- strategic questions regarding legal issues
- effective mechanisms for retrieving information from clients
- determining the appropriate response to IRS notices
- resolving ethical concerns and conflicts.
To the extent you have questions regarding Clinic procedures and processes, any of the Clinic’s attorneys or GRAs can assist you. Process questions include issues such as:
- specific office procedures
- power of attorney issues
- sources of law appropriate for researching an issue
- how to read transcripts, statutory notices, IRS forms or Accurint reports.
When posing either a substantive or process question, you should have first made an attempt to come up with an answer on your own using the materials on the website, the Internal Revenue Manual, and other primary and secondary sources that are available to you. In posing your question, you should indicate what you believe the answer to be based on your research the person answering your question knows what you have already done to determine an answer.
Three Level Review
When preparing a notebook, you should complete a memorandum of law in support of your position. The memorandum goes through a three level review process. The first draft should be submitted to the Clinic Director. Once you have incorporated his feedback, you should send the second draft to your supervising attorney. He or she will provide you with additional feedback. Once you have incorporated your supervising attorney’s feedback and assembled the notebook (including exhibits), you should submit the final, completed notebook to the Associate Director.
In addition to memorandum, any determination to concede a case or request a Collection Due Process hearing should result in a written concession/request that is also submitted to this level of review.
Each week you will meet with your supervising attorney to discuss the progression of your cases. During that meeting, you should come prepared to discuss the pertinent facts, any new developments, ideas regarding next steps, and raise any challenges you are experiences with contacting your clients or collecting documentation. Your supervising attorney will provide you with regular feedback on your performance, in addition to completing your midterm and end of the semester evaluations.
In addition to discussing your calendared Tax Court cases with your supervising attorney, you should send regular updates to the Associate Director so he can monitor the progression of these cases for purposes of settlement, concession, or in anticipation of litigation. If a calendared case has reached a resolution, you should communicate this to your supervising attorney and the Associate Director immediately before the resolution is finalized.
Although emergency situations in the Clinic are rare, occasionally, an event will occur in one of your cases that will require an immediate action. This can occur, for example, when the IRS contacts you and requests an immediate response on an issue or when a new client arrives with rights that are set to expire imminently (such as a statutory notice that is set to expire within a couple of days). In these situations, there is the possibility that you will not be able to reach your supervising attorney before action needs to be taken. Should that situation arise, you should ask your question to any attorney that you can find (or, if all attorneys are unavailable, send an e-mail to all of the clinic attorneys). After taking action, you should then send your supervising attorney an update as to the action taken in the case.