Hone Your Skills With the Pro Bono Panel for Low-Income Taxpayers


Last week, the BBA kicked off the first of three pro bono trainings to help build the inaugural low-income taxpayer pro bono panel of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and Greater Boston Legal Services. As you may remember from this article, the Boston Bar Foundation also supports the Low-Income Tax Clinic (LITC). Beyond the Billable reached out to Keith Fogg, the Director of the Federal Tax Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, to learn more about the training. Here’s what he had to say:

Why should attorneys join the low-income tax pro bono panel?

It’s an easy way for them to receive pro bono case referrals.  They can refer individuals seeking pro bono assistance to one of the clinics to vet, and then get the cases that meet the pro bono criteria.  Aside from using the panel as a screening mechanism for handling pro bono cases, attorneys receive support on their cases from the clinicians if questions arise about facts or law in the cases they receive.

Also, working cases from the pro bono panel provides the opportunity to handle tax controversy cases the attorney might not handle in their ordinary practice, and so they can learn from the experience and gain valuable skills that might assist them in their practice.

But even without the other professional benefits mentioned, helping others who need it is very rewarding.  Pro bono panels provide an opportunity to help others while using and honing the skills that tax attorneys have learned through training and practice.  Rather than engaging in pro bono assistance in an area of the law in which they do not ordinarily practice, being a part of the pro bono tax panel will put their skills to use.”

What should attorneys expect in the next tax program?

Most of the clients seeking help do so because they cannot pay the liability already assessed against them.  This makes the collection panel the most relevant to pro bono practice.  Some of the clients with collection problems really need assistance reopening the question of whether they owe.  Others have no basis for challenging the assessment but very low prospects for paying the debt.  These clients need assistance pulling together their financial information in order to make a successful presentation to the IRS to obtain debt relief through an offer in compromise, debt forbearance through currently not collectible designation or debt postponement through an installment agreement.  The program will explain how to work with the client and the IRS to achieve a beneficial resolution.”

Click here to learn more about the upcoming collection panel.

If you’re interested in joining the pro bono panel, please contact Katie D’Angelo at kdangelo@bostonbar.org.