The Tax Clinic maintains a complete record of all client-related correspondence and documents. This is both good lawyering practice and required by various bar rules. The Clinic maintains client information, most of which is confidential (see “Professionalism and Confidentiality” discussion found elsewhere on this web site), predominantly in electronic format. Documents maintained include Word documents, pdf documents, all correspondence, and various other scanned documents. Documents saved in electronic format are all saved to the client’s file on the “I” drive. This file will have been established by the Clinic’s Administrative Coordinator prior to the case being assigned to the student attorney. The Clinic maintains a temporary paper file (working file) during the time the case is active.
Each client’s electronic file is divided into four sections. In the paper file, all items that are temporarily maintained should be divided into the same four sections, as follows:
Basic Client Data (Side I in Paper File)
Basic Client Data includes the Intake Sheet, Initial Contact Questionnaire, Recommendation Memo, Transition Memos, and Closing Sheet. Prior to a case being assigned, a GRA or the Clinic’s Administrative Coordinator will scan the Intake Sheet and the Initial Contact Questionnaire and save it to the client’s electronic file. After a case has been assigned, the student attorney to whom the case has been assigned will scan the Recommendation Memo once it is approved, Transition Memos, and Closing Sheet and other Basic Client Data to the client’s electronic files. Generally, there is little that is maintained in paper format in this section.
Client Correspondence (Side II in Paper File)
Client Correspondence includes the original signed copies of all correspondence sent to and received from a client or any other party (except the IRS), including print outs of any email correspondence. Any correspondence that does not originate from the Clinic and any attachment to correspondence that is not a Word document must be scanned and saved to the client’s electronic file. During the period that the file is open the student attorney is free to maintain paper copies of these items.
Miscellaneous (Side III in Paper File)
In the Miscellaneous section, include Forms 2848 (Power of Attorney/“POA”) under the “POA” tab, evidence supporting the client’s claim for relief, PACER and Accurint reports, and any other documents not clearly belonging on Sides 1, 2, or 4. The client’s electronic file must contain a scanned copy of the revocation of the POA. The revocation is scanned and saved to the electronic file at the time that the case is closed.
IRS Correspondence (Side IV in Paper File)
In this section, include all correspondence and forms to and from the IRS including Petitions, Statutory Notices, Appeals, OIC and all other notebooks, IRS Records of the client’s Accounts, IRS Tax Return Transcripts, IRS Transcripts of Third Party Reporting Information, Tax Returns, etc.
IRS correspondence that is received through the mail will normally be scanned into the client’s electronic file by a GRA or by the Clinic’s Administrative Coordinator prior to it being given to the assigned student attorney. It is the student attorney’s responsibility to scan to the client’s electronic file any IRS correspondence that is received directly by the student attorney. Prior to mailing a notebook to the IRS, the student attorney must scan the entire document (including exhibits) to the client’s electronic file. The original signed copy of all cover letters to the IRS must be saved. Any notebooks sent to the IRS will be maintained in both paper and electronic format until the matter is resolved.
Checking Files Out
You are permitted to check files out of the clinic but keep in mind the minimum number of hours that you are required to work in the clinic offices. When you check a file out, please note which files you are taking and the date you are removing the files. The sign-out sheet is located in Room 004, in one of the trays.
Generally, you are not permitted to keep a file out of the clinic office for longer than a week without the permission of one of the clinic directors. When you return a file cross it off the list of checked out files. Because we periodically receive inquiries about files it is best that the paper files be available. Thus, it is preferable if you copy relevant portions of the files rather than removing the entire file folder from the clinic. The same rules of confidentiality are applicable while you have the file checked out, so files must be secured at all times.