Clinics & Practical Skills
Tax Moot Court: students have the opportunity to sharpen skills in tax research, writing, and client counseling skills.
American Bar Association Taxation Section’s Law Student Tax Challenge: students are invited to participate in a national tax planning and client-counseling competition designed to more closely reflect everyday tax practice than traditional moot court competitions. Participants work in teams of two to produce a memorandum and client correspondence on the tax consequences of a complex business-planning problem. The competition provides students with the opportunity to research “real-life” tax planning issues and to demonstrate their acquired tax knowledge through their writing skills. If a Lewis & Clark team is chosen as a semifinalist, members of the team compete at a national event, where they orally defend their written work before a panel of nationally known tax experts. In 2006, the law school’s first team in the competition did so, and it won the national prize for the best-written submission. Lewis & Clark has excelled in national tax moot court programs since its earliest entries in the 1990s. In two consecutive years, Lewis & Clark was the only law school to take home honors in both the written and oral portions of the National Tax Moot Court Competition sponsored by the Florida bar.
Income Tax Assistance Program: Students have the opportunity to help taxpayers outside the law school community in filing their state and federal income tax returns. Recognizing the special challenges that international students and scholars face in complying with U.S. tax laws, the volunteer program has for more than a decade focused on the needs of international students at Lewis & Clark College. The volunteer program has also successfully lobbied the IRS to simplify tax compliance for international students.
Internships & Externships
Students may gain additional practical tax experience through an externship, which involves full-time work in the legal profession over an entire semester, a substantial research paper, and a special seminar. Taxation is among the many spheres in which a student may attain specific practical skills and a deeper understanding of substantive laws by developing an individualized externship experience. In recent years, Lewis & Clark law students have also served as interns at the Oregon Tax Court, and several of its recent graduates have served as law clerks to that court.
Lewis & Clark Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) gives students the opportunity to represent taxpayers of lesser means in controversies with the Internal Revenue Service, including audits and appeals before that agency, trials and hearings before the U.S. Tax Court, and appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Student participants work under the supervision of an experienced tax attorney who is a full-time member of the law school faculty. The LITC accepts for representation only those cases that maximize student opportunities to learn and develop practical lawyering skills.
The LITC is part of the Small Business Legal Clinic, which provides students with hands-on experience in developing lawyering skills. The clinic operates out of its own office space in downtown Portland. Student participants interview and counsel clients; conduct factual investigations; solve problems; draft documents; negotiate cases; and represent clients at administrative hearings, in trials, and on appeals.
Professor Jan Pierce, director of the Lewis & Clark Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, previously served for 27 years as an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service, including many years as a supervising attorney. He has been the leader of our tax clinic since the day it opened in the spring of 2000.