This brief article discusses academic tax clinics. The article is part of a project commemorating the 75th anniversary of the American Bar Association Section of Taxation's role in public service. The Tax Section has been a staunch supporter of tax clinics and has nurtured clinicians and clinics since the beginning of tax clinics in the late 1960's and 1970's. In this Article, I will discuss my personal connection to the Tax Section and tax clinics, briefly review the current state of academic tax clinics, and offer some suggestions for the future, including how the Tax Section can continue its leadership role with tax clinics generally and academic tax clinics specifically.
In the article, I discuss the immediate and well-known benefits of academic tax clinics. In addition to helping clients, they serve a key educational role for students. As a vehicle for teaching important lawyering skills such as interviewing, counseling, and advocacy, the academic clinics help train students to perform as competent and ethical lawyers. Probably of even greater importance though is that for many students experience in a tax clinic is the first exposure to the power that legal representation can bring for those with fewer resources. It opens their eyes to the power of a law degree to do good, a goal that many entering law students hope to attain but that sometimes gets lost in the mess of exams, debt, and job pressures. The article notes the pressures on the academy in the face of declining student enrollments and a renewed emphasis on cutting law school operating budgets. While the Tax Section cannot offset the systematic changes influencing legal education, the Tax Section and its efforts can continue to support academic clinics and clinicians through reminding the academy and policymakers alike about the value that academic tax clinics have for both the tax system generally and students who are fortunate enough to participate in those programs.
- Tax Clinics,
- ABA Tax Section
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