Your 1st Week
The first few weeks in the Clinic are often difficult for new students. The case management software and office procedures must be learned, tax terminology mastered, facts associated with cases understood, etc. Thus, working in the Clinic is not like attending and studying for other law school classes. Student attorneys are expected to quickly engage in the Clinic so that clients receive the appropriate services. Student attorneys will assist clients with tax issues that have significant consequences to clients' financial status. Deadlines are of critical importance (especially with regard to statutory notices), and keeping clients closely informed is essential to maintaining a good working relationship.
The first thing to do to ease your anxiety is to familiarize yourself with the Clinic office and the equipment. Learn how to print on letterhead and how to send mail to the IRS. The Administrative Secretary will assist you with these office procedures.The use of Clinic equipment and resources is restricted to Clinic work. Ensure that the equipment that runs on electrical power is turned off at the end of the day when you are the last person in the Clinic area. Student attorneys may not use Clinic equipment, supplies or other resources for non-Clinic purposes.To assist you in getting started, below is a short list of the tasks that you should accomplish during your first week in the Clinic.
Obtain Power of Attorney for each client
- If a POA signed by the client, but not signed by a student attorney, is in the client’s file, sign it, submit the signed copy to Mr. Timm for his original signature, then fax it to the CAF unit of the IRS. Be sure to include with each POA faxed copies of the letter from the IRS, with attachments from the Clinic, authorizing law students currently enrolled in the Clinic to practice before the IRS. The Clinic letter will include an attachment identifying each currently enrolled student. There are fax cover sheets to the CAF Unit already prepared and located beside the fax machine in the office of the Administrative Secretary.
- If there is not a blank POA signed by the client in the client’s file you will have to send a blank copy for signature to the client ASAP with your introductory letter (next step).
Make initial contact with each client
- Call each client to introduce yourself and let the client know that you will be handling his or her case during the next several months (don’t worry about addressing substantive issues—you won’t be familiar with the issues yet). For new clients: refer to the New Client Procedures on this website to set up an initial interview with the client.
- If you do not reach the client by phone, send an introductory letter, a form for which is located on the Clinic’s T-drive. Include a POA for client signature if necessary.
Determine Status of each case:
- Review the information contained in the client’s file and in the Amicus summary, paying particular attention to any previous student memos and IRS correspondence.
- Identify and enter on your Amicus calendar any critical response dates.
- Print a copy of the Tax Clinic Decision Tree, located on this website, for each client, identify the current stage of the client’s situation, and include the Decision Tree in the client’s folder.
- Determine the most likely method to resolve the case: Offer in Compromise, Audit Reconsideration (which goes to Appeals for possible settlement) or Tax Court (which also goes to Appeals for possible settlement immediately after filing a petition).
- Go to the website to review each of these methods of resolution. Keep in mind that Offers in Compromise are usually based on doubt as to collectability. The taxpayer doesn’t argue he doesn’t owe the tax, just that he can’t afford to pay it. In Audit Reconsiderations and Tax Court cases, the taxpayer is making an argument based on the tax law that he does not owe the tax.