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Most students realize that traditional law school courses alone do not adequately prepare them for the practice of law. The ABA has recognized this with the adoption of language from the MacCrate Report in Section 301(a) of its Standards for Approval of Law Schools. The MacCrate Report discusses the gap between law school education and the practicing bar and encourages a bridge over that gap by recommending that fundamental lawyering skills and values be taught in law schools. Those fundamental skills are the subject of the LITC courses.
More recently, the Carnegie Foundation completed a two-year study of legal education in which it concluded that, in contrast to medical schools and most other professional schools, law schools "give only casual attention to teaching students how to use legal thinking in the complexity of actual law practice." An unbalanced emphasis on substantive courses alone "can create problems as students move into practice". The educational objective of the Clinic is to prepare students for the practice of law through further development of the following skills:
The Clinic is not designed to be a tax course, although it offers significant benefits for those wanting to practice in the field of taxation. The tax law affects every individual, and students will encounter tax issues regardless of the area of law in which they choose to practice. The Clinic’s staff and its clients realize that student attorneys working in the Clinic are not tax experts and do not expect them to become tax experts during the semester-long course. Students are expected to follow Clinic procedure and have the following resources available to them for guidance on tax issues:
The Clinic is not a simulation course. The Clinic represents low-income taxpayers pro bono in their disputes with the IRS. Each student is assigned live cases and will interact directly with clients under the supervision of the Clinic’s Director, Associate Director and Supervising Attorney. Class sessions are held to cover substantive and procedural tax law, as well as Clinic administrative procedures and lawyering skills in general. During class sessions discussions of specific clients’ issues also take place.
Students meet with either the Clinic Director or Associate Director or Supervising Attorney on a weekly basis to discuss and evaluate their assigned cases. The Associate Director and Supervising Attorney's offices are located within the Clinic, and they and the Clinic Director are available for consultation anytime outside class sessions and scheduled weekly meetings.
Students completing the Clinic I course may register for the Clinic II course at the discretion of the Director. Clinic II students are not required to attend most class sessions.
Students are expected to devote approximately 9 hours, on average, each week throughout the semester to the Clinic for a total of 126 hours. Time spent in class is applied toward that time commitment. During the regular school 6 of those hours must take place in the Clinic offices during normal business hours.
During the summer term you are expected to work on your cases approximately 10 hours each week (7 hours in the Clinic office during normal business hours and another 3 hours each week working on your cases either in the Clinic or elsewhere). The 10 hours you work on your cases are in addition to the time spent in class.
During exam periods you are expected to engage in the steps needed to transition your cases. During the first couple of weeks of each term, you will probably have to work more than the average number of hours in order to familiarize yourself with your cases.
As with other courses, some students will spend more time on Clinic work than others. This may be due to differences in knowledge, time management or just out of concern and sympathy for their clients. Work will expand to fit the time allotted to it, so students must learn to effectively manage their time, The Clinic has in place resources to assist in the completion of tasks as efficiently as possible. This is a fundamental practice management skill that is critical to an attorney’s success. Just as the management of any law firm is concerned about its associates’ abilities to resolve matters as efficiently as possible, the Clinic staff is committed to helping students manage their caseloads through instruction, prioritization and, if necessary, reassignment. This is a benefit to beginning lawyers because students are able to learn these skills in an actual law firm setting without assuming ultimate responsibility for billable time.
The Clinic course is unlike a traditional law school course in that competition among students is discouraged and students are not graded relative to the performance of their peers, and competition among students is discouraged. The success of any law firm depends on the cooperative efforts of its lawyers, and if that cooperation yields successful results, everyone should benefit. Likewise, in the Clinic, students are expected to cooperate by helping each other with client matters and by sharing knowledge. There is no grading curve. Thus, if every student performs well, all grades will reflect such performance. Students are not graded on tax expertise but instead are evaluated on the following:
Any student who is confused about his or her level of performance is encouraged to confer with the Clinic Director, Associate Director or Supervising Attorney for clarification.
The Clinic handles tax controversies involving civilfederal income or employment taxes. The Clinic does not handle criminal or state matters, nor does it usually prepare any tax returns. Case assignments are made by the Clinic Director, Associate Director or Supervising Attorney. Cases coming to the Clinic are most likely in one of the following five stages:
Students interested in registering for the Clinic course must have successfully completed Basic Tax (Law 7095) and have an overall GPA of 2.3 or better.
After registering for the Clinic course, forward the following information to the Clinic Secretary via e-mail - email@example.com or stop by the Clinic. The Clinic is located on the first floor next to classroom 170 and opposite the Career Services Office.
This information is necessary to obtain permission for students to practice before the IRS and to secure a CAF number. A CAF number allows students to file Power of Attorney forms in order to represent their clients before the IRS.
Students interested in obtaining more information about the opportunity to work in the Clinic should contact the Clinic Director or the Associate Director.
Professor Ronald Blasi, Clinic Director
Georgia State University stipulates that no person in the United States shall, on the grounds of race, color, sex, religion, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or national origin, be excluded from employment or participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity conducted by Georgia State University or any of its several departments now in existence or hereafter established.