It is daunting and often impossible for our clients to face the intricacies of the tax code on their own, so our student attorneys help to educate individuals and advocate on their behalf before the IRS or the United States Tax Court.
In the process of securing the best possible result for their clients, LITC student attorneys interview clients, gather and analyze relevant information, perform legal research, provide advice, and negotiate with IRS agents. Representing clients on a variety of issues, such as tax collection disputes, audits, IRS notices, Earned Income Tax Credit eligibility, and innocent spouse relief, student attorneys build vital interpersonal, legal writing, and critical thinking skills.
Moreover, the intimate size of the clinic—six students, one supervising attorney, and one administrator—allows students to encounter a unique mentorship experience, as well as cultivate the independence and confidence to provide excellent legal service for each specific case.
Those interested in the compelling intersection of tax, poverty, domestic violence, disability, and immigration legal services should consider the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic. As the clinic grows, students may also have the opportunity for transactional tax work and business development.
Second- and third-year law students may register for the four-credit clinic using the Law School's computerized registration system. Though there are no formal prerequisites for the course, it is useful to have taken Taxation of Individual Income and/or courses in estate planning, such as Tax Planning for Real Estate Transactions, Nuts and Bolts of Estate Planning, and Fundamentals of Real Estate. Those interested in the clinic's growing corporate component may consider taking Corporate Tax and Taxation of Business Enterprises.
First-semester students receive four credits for the clinic and are graded. Students who choose to continue and are accepted for a second semester receive three credits and are graded. Students are required to work eight office hours each week.
Reading case law and discussing hypothetical fact patterns certainly have their place in the law school experience, but working to resolve issues for clients who need the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic's help has been an invaluable part of my experience at Michigan. The clinic provides an excellent opportunity for students to gain experience representing clients before the IRS. And students do not need to be experts in tax law or be practicing tax law after graduation. Taxes affect everyone and come with an especially complicated set of regulations, so receiving a notice from the IRS can be a confusing and overwhelming experience for low income individuals and families. It has been incredibly rewarding to provide a much needed service to our clients who need our assistance the most. -Ryan Marosy
The LITC is one of the most important experiences I had in law school. Tax law can feel esoteric on the academic level, so working with real clients and corresponding with the IRS rounded out my education. I feel more comfortable with my tax knowledge, but also in practical application. –Victoria AllenWhile I largely enjoyed my 1L doctrinal classes, I realized they weren't particularly helpful when I was working during my 1L summer. The hands-on experience I got from the Clinic taught me skills that seem more aligned with the skills of a successful, practicing attorney. In addition, I have really enjoyed being trusted with so much autonomy over my cases and clients. –Ian Lee
This clinic is a fabulous opportunity to learn how to problem-solve in a collaborative way. You are providing meaningful help to clients who need it, and more often than not the IRS really wants to work with you. It is a great experience for students who want to practice the kinds of negotiation, communication, and problem-solving skills that will come up in practice. –Lauren Smith
The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic provided me with the opportunity to help resolve difficult, real-world tax problems for clients. In addition to gaining invaluable experience with tax procedure, I learned important lessons about the practice of law in general. The clinic is designed to help student attorneys develop essential skills for providing client-centered representation. My clinic experience will stay with me after law school and will make me a better advocate for my future clients. –Tommy Zaino
"My Low Income Taxpayer Clinic experience was very positive. I learned a lot about substantive tax issues as well as the IRS collections process. More importantly, the tax issues I worked on had a significant impact on my clients' lives. Working on these otherwise unaddressed issues and educating clients about the relevant tax law was very rewarding. My clients frequently expressed their gratitude for our services. In the process, I improved my ability to develop productive client relationships. Because of the way the clinic is structured, you get lots of practice communicating directly with clients one-on-one. Lastly, Professor Appleberry helped me reflect on larger issues and lessons when I got too bogged down in the details. This helped me reflect on both my goals for my clinic experience as well as my future career."
–Shane CallaghanI have been fortunate enough to spend two semesters in the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, and it has been one of the highlights of my law school career. My time in the clinic has given me the unique opportunity to help our clients resolve substantial tax issues while developing my own skills as a legal professional, and I would highly recommend the clinic to anyone who is looking to do the same. –David ImhoffMy experience with the clinic has been absolutely worthwhile. I have had the chance to work first-hand with clients on their tax issues, and have been exposed to all the important aspects of the American income tax regime. Not only do I feel prepared to do real substantive work in the future, but I was able to have a meaningful impact on my community by helping those who need it most. –Russell LawsonSpending a semester in the LITC was my favorite experience in law school to date. The LITC presents fantastic opportunities to work on substantive tax issues. More importantly, the LITC helps students learn to find legal solutions with a client-centered focus. From the beginning of the semester, student clinicians receive substantial autonomy to personally meet with clients and represent clients before the IRS. I would highly recommend the LITC to anyone with an interest in tax law, but I would also recommend the LITC to anyone who wants to gain client experience and build practical legal skills. –Bryan PistoriusI would recommend the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic to any Michigan Law student, regardless of your interest, background, and knowledge of tax. I came into the clinic with limited tax knowledge but with the desire to learn how the tax system affects different populations, specifically lower income persons. Not only did I develop a great knowledge base on individual income tax, I gained invaluable skills that will transcend my practice area. Through my casework in the clinic, I developed strong advocacy skills, client counseling experience, and tactics to explain complicated legal concepts to a layperson. Not to mention, Nicole is an incredible supervisor who allows students to take ownership of their cases while still being there for the student every step of the way. A semester in the LITC is a great way to gain practical experience in law school! –Macauley Rybar
"I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic; I spent a semester as a regular clinician, a summer working in the clinic, and have spent the last two semesters as an advanced clinician. I say fortunate because I have been able to grow while working on engaging and rewarding issues. Not only have I become a better advocate through improving my research and analytical skills, I have also built meaningful relationships with my clients. It is incredibly fulfilling to actually help people, especially those who would otherwise be unable to afford such help. Establishing trust with my clients has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in law school. I am confident I have gained the skills to be a great attorney and the perspective to apply those skills in a positive and meaningful way. I can’t recommend this clinic enough and believe anyone that takes it will find they took will make great strides, both professionally and personally."
–George Nikolaos Hatzigeorgiou, '18, Judicial Law Clerk, United States Tax CourtI’m amazed at how much fun I had and how much I learned at the clinic. I didn’t know how wrapped up I would get in my client’s lives and how much fun it would be to fight for them. I would highly recommend the clinic because it gave me the self-confidence I needed to go out into the real world as an attorney. Nicole was an amazing supervisor – whether it was her guidance on cases or advice on life, she’s a wonderful person to watch over you. –Aurora Mayte Salazar, '18, Tax Associate, SkaddenThe LITC was one of my most rewarding experiences of law school. Working in the LITC forced me to put down my books and practice my communication and counseling skills. I feel a sense of ownership over my cases, because I was given a great deal of autonomy and was able to play a central role in effectuating the successful resolution of my clients' matters. I would recommend this clinic to any student interested in developing their communication skills and their ability to manage client relationships! –Emily Hantverk, '17, Associate, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
"I could not recommend more to anyone to become a member of the LITC. Having accepted an offer from a corporate tax department in New York, I already saw myself working on large transactions and getting lost in technical rules and big numbers. The clinic helped me remember what it means to be an advocate. I helped to solve tax issues that my clients perceived as turning points in their lives. In the end, their gratitude felt more rewarding than anything I could ever imagine."
–Lukas Kutliek, '18, Associate, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
"Law school classes present neatly organized set of facts that can be picked apart relatively easily. In the clinic, I was never presented with such a vacuum; there was always an actual person, each with their unique background, behind the words on the paper. The clinical experience reminded me that there is a real world outside of law school with real people demanding legal service. It helped me transition from being a law student to a lawyer."
–Chul Hun Lee
"This rewarding experience also let me practice how to manage being a lawyer, such as juggling client's demands, managing a schedule, and communicating with a boss. The effect on my lawyer skills is noticeable, and I am even more excited to take the next steps as a lawyer now."
–Samuel Parks"My semester within the LITC was an invaluable complement to my doctrinal coursework at the Law School: In addition to giving me the chance to work closely with clients and develop interpersonal competences, the LITC allowed me to join an incredible team of student-attorneys and clinical mentors. I would recommend the LITC to anyone with an interest in tax law and/or a desire to develop core lawyering skills as a law student." –Morgan AveeniWorking for the LITC was one of my favorite experiences about law school so far. Regular law school classes make me anxious, usually because of cold-calls, and reading an overwhelming amount of cases can sometimes make me lose sight of the fact that the cases are about actual human beings. That wasn't the case with the clinic. Working to help a people who genuinely needed the help made me motivated to work. Learning about tax law was much more hands on, which definitely helped me grasp it better. Working for the LITC reminded me of why I came to law school in the first place, and I would recommend it to anyone! –Melissa PenaThe Low Income Taxpayer Clinic is unique at the Law School. It allows for team work in a more organic way than the other clinics. Each case is your own, so there is a sense of ownership, but the nature of working in a small office lends itself to teamwork. Everyone is always happy to lend an ear and offer advice. In the end, this fosters friendship while developing true legal skills. –Andrea Frailey, '17, Associate, Dykema Gossett PLLC
"As an LITC attorney, I greatly enjoyed learning more about tax controversy while I worked directly with my clients to resolve their federal tax disputes. I had the opportunity to prepare an advocacy letter on behalf of one of my clients that reduced her amount owed to the IRS by more than $3,000. I highly recommend this clinic to anyone who is interested in tax law, developing client relationships, or both."
–Elizabeth Peterkort, Tax Associate, Baker McKenzie
"The LITC provides students the opportunity to independently counsel and advocate for clients on complex and important tax matters."
I really enjoyed my experience in the LITC. Nicole gave me the tools to work independently and autonomously on my cases, and I learned a great deal about substantive tax law along the way. As a bonus, the ability to impact my clients' lives in a substantial, tangible way was incredibly rewarding. –Kyle Williams, Associate, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
"My experience with the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic was very positive. Through the clinic, I learned a lot about tax as a substantive area of law, including issues related to transportation expenses, dependents, penalty abatement, collections, IRA distributions, homestead credits, and organizational tax planning. More importantly, though, I developed skills important to future practice. In resolving clients issues, I conducted legal research using a wide variety of sources, from cases to statutes to publications. Additionally, repeated interactions with clients and with IRS representatives improved my communication skills. The LITC also gave me the opportunity to work with numbers again as I prepared budgets and tax returns. Developing positive relationships with clients and seeing how my work benefited them was very rewarding. Through this experience, I gained a new perspective of our tax system and how it impacts people from different walks of life."
–Karen Boore, '12, Associate, Real Estate Group, Miller Canfield
Prior to beginning client work, I thought the clinic would be a great opportunity to learn more about tax law, obtain some valuable working experience, and help taxpayers in the process. While I have achieved all of those goals, the process of getting there was much more rewarding than I would have imagined. Even the small things, such as smoothly interviewing a client or counselling a client in a legal matter, brought me a sense of accomplishment and pride. Working with my clients has given me perspectives and skills that I will be able to bring into both my career and personal life.
–Jessie Chen, '15, Associate, Gunderson Dettmer
The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic was an incredibly rewarding experience. It was an opportunity to explore an entirely new area of law, while at the same time representing real-life clients with very real issues. It enabled me learn while making a noticeable impact in my clients' everyday lives. As a result of my clinical work, I am now genuinely interested in practicing tax law and plan to enroll in tax courses during the remainder of my time at Michigan. I would highly recommend the clinic to anyone who is even remotely interested in tax. A wonderful experience!
–Alen Cisija, '16, Associate Counsel, Seattle Seahawks
LITC provides fantastic opportunities to work closely and independently with clients, while dealing with tax issues—both simple and complex. Plus you
might get a cool sweatshirt, go bowling and to tax court, and become great buddies with the IRS automated phone system!–Avi Emanuel, '16, Associate, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
An immersive clinical experience, the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic offers training in a substantive area of the law, the reward of a truly practical experience, the opportunity to work with significant independence, and the benefit of working under an expert mentor who cares deeply for the total well-being of her student attorneys.
–Zachary Fichtenbaum, '16, Gjerset & Lorenz LLP
"The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic is challenging, rewarding, and was one of my best experiences during law school. The clinic's professor, Nicole Appleberry, patiently assists students as they learn the ins and outs of the IRS and other government agencies. During my three semesters in the clinic, I was able to finally put down the books and interact with those in the community who needed our help. The cases range from individuals who have fallen ill or had an accident and therefore are not able to prepare and file their taxes on time, to those that have grievous errors in their taxes, leading to past due payments in the tens of thousands. Largely due to my experience in this clinic, when I graduated, I felt well prepared to meet the challenge ahead of me as I began my legal career as a litigator at a general practice firm."
–Jessica G. Kingston, '10, Associate, Varnum LLP
"My work in the LITC gave me the tools I needed for my position in the tax controversy group of an international law firm. I learned how to research the tax code and the regulations, and had the opportunity to prepare memoranda on international and domestic tax issues for individuals, corporations, and partnerships. The clinic also trained me to discuss tax issues with clients and with other attorneys. This, in turn, gave me the communication skills and confidence necessary to land a job in tax litigation." –James Kelly, '12, Associate, Mayer Brown
Real clients, real money, real agency work. That's how I would describe my experience in the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic. As a clinician, I was able to provide real help to individuals in need. I also mastered skills that will be useful in any administrative or regulatory practice, not just practice before the IRS.
–Charles Ramsey, '15, Associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic gave me the opportunity to learn about areas of tax law such as cancellation of debt, mortgages, and collections. Also, in representing clients and interacting with IRS representatives, I gained important practical experience that will help me in my future career. Even better, I had the opportunity to help people who are in financial need and often unsure of whether or not they are going to meet their monthly expenses, let alone pay off their IRS debt.
My time in the LITC has been a true turning point in my law school career. I learned firsthand what it means to truly advocate on a client's behalf to a variety of different governmental agencies and organizations. Overall, the best part of my experience has been the level of gratitude expressed by clients who genuinely appreciate even the tiniest of progress made in his or her case.
–Adrean Taylor, '15, Associate, Honigman LLP
My experience in the LITC has gone above and beyond my expectations. I was given the opportunity to work with my own clients and interact with these clients on a daily basis to build my confidence. I received the perfect amount of supervision. On the one hand, I could make all my own legal and professional decisions. On the other hand, I was given the opportunity to speak through these decisions with Professor Nicole Appleberry. She asked difficult questions and provided valuable insight to ensure that they were the right decisions to make.
–Erin Whitney, '15, Tax Associate Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
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