Practical Tax Skills: Learning by Doing

The Practical Tax Skills Requirement

The University of California, Irvine School of Law’s founding vision was to train lawyers for the practice of law at the highest levels of the profession. The Graduate Tax Program shares that vision and is proud to be the only program of its kind to require students to complete practical tax training.

As part of the elective course requirements, students must complete 4 credits of Practical Tax Skills (PTS). Students can earn PTS credits by completing a tax externship, a tax clinic, or courses designated by the Academic Director as meeting the PTS requirement.

Students are not limited to any one particular PTS opportunity. Instead, we encourage students to take advantage of all or any combination of the PTS opportunities offered and complete more than 4 credits, if desired.

Tax Externship Opportunities

Students may earn up to 8 credits in tax externships completed in the spring semester or over the summer (no more than 4 credits each semester). Externships in the spring are typically part-time opportunities that take place throughout the semester on a remote or on-site basis. Summer externships are generally full-time, on-site and may last up to 10 weeks. Please note, students who enroll in summer externships will graduate in the fall following the completion of their externship.

A full list of approved tax externships, as well as application procedures and deadlines, is available at the externships website.

  • Apply (check back in fall 2019 for details)

The IBFD Externship Program

The Graduate Tax Program has established an exclusive formal externship program with The International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD), in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The Graduate Tax Program at UCI Law is the only tax program in the United States that has such an agreement with the IBFD.

Established in 1938, the IBFD is the world’s leading non-governmental research institution on international tax law and policy. The IBFD is an independent, non-profit foundation that collects and disseminates international tax information, provides tax education, and consults governments on tax matters. It employs over 70 research specialists from over 30 countries.

Students of the Graduate Tax Program may apply for either a part-time IBFD spring externship (two weeks full-time on-site in Amsterdam, then remote), or a full time IBFD externship (four weeks full-time on-site in Amsterdam).

Our Tax Externship Partners

The Graduate Tax Program has established externship partnerships with, among others, the following employers:

Paul Hastings logo     IBFD logo     Office of Tax Appeals logo

If you are a tax law employer and interested in becoming an externship partner, please e-mail us a gradtax@law.uci.edu

Tax Clinics

Offered every spring, tax clinics, allow students an opportunity to practice tax law under the supervision of an experienced attorney. In our tax clinics, students can generally expect to be the primary legal representatives for their clients, engaging in work on complex matters encompassing a wide range of advocacy methods. This includes litigation, transactional facilitation, policy advocacy and community education. Students will confront professional and ethical challenges in the course of their practice and learn how to exercise judgment – working closely with clinic partners to protect and advance client and community interests; and, to provide pro bono legal services to clients who otherwise would not receive them. Upon successful completion of a tax clinic, students will receive 4 academic PTS credits.

Clinic space is limited, and the registration requirements for the different tax clinics may vary. Students should consult the course catalog for specific details on each clinic.       

In the 2020 spring semester, the program expects to offer the following tax clinics (these offerings are tentative and subject to change):

  • Appellate Tax Clinic: This clinic allows students to participate in docketed appellate tax cases. Students will draft amicus curiae ("friend of the court") briefs in significant matters that impact federal, state or local tax law. Students also will conduct research on legal issues, draft appellate briefs, and, depending on the jurisdiction of the court and the nature of the case, may present their brief in an appellate forum.
  • Low Income Taxpayer Clinic: This clinic gives students first-hand experience with advocating on behalf of low-income taxpayers who have on-going disputes with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. During the semester, students will conduct client interviews, identify federal tax issues in dispute, determine the best course of action to resolve those tax issues, review client tax documentation, conduct federal tax research, review the Internal Revenue Code, contact personnel and represent the school’s clients in negotiations with the IRS.

Practical Tax Skills Courses

PTS courses contain a significant practical training component, such as transactional simulations, mock negotiations, and legal drafting.

In the 2020 spring semester, the Graduate Tax Program expects to offer the following PTS classes (these offerings are tentative and subject to change):

  • Tax Deals
  • In-House Tax Counseling Workshop
  • Tax Planning for Small and Medium Size Businesses
  • Tax Planning for Real Estate Transactions
  • Tax Planning for M&A Transactions
  • Practical Tax Controversy Skills

"Members of the tax faculty helped foster my interest in taxation by creating a convivial environment where a critical approach to taxation was applied. I am able to apply the same critical approach in my career and it has been instrumental in tackling the complex tax matters I face every day."

– Jameson Frazier, J.D. Class of 2016, Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits Associate, DLA Piper