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. Externships are typically completed in the Spring on a part-time basis, on-site. The Spring class schedule is designed to allow students to spend ample time off campus, at the externship site.

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.

Our Tax Externship Partners

The Graduate Tax Program has established externship partnerships with a wide variety of employers.

Some of our tax externship partners include: Law Offices of A. Lavar Taylor LLP, Activision Blizzard, Arbonne International, Bechtel, Gilead, Paul Hastings, Honda, Hyundai Capital, IBFD, Ingram Micro, Mattel Inc., Mayer Brown, Rutan & Tucker LLP, SpaceX, State of California Franchise Tax Board, U.S. Internal Revenue and Withers Bergman LLP.

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

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 previous semesters, the program has offered tax clinics like:

  • 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.
  • California State Tax Clinic: Students will gain hands-on practical tax experience and skill in legal matters, such as client interview and counseling, settlement negotiations, and making legal arguments orally and in writing to a wide variety of audiences, such as clients, auditors, attorneys, and judges. Students will participate in the Sales, Use, and Special Taxes Clinic, which represents low-income and under-represented taxpayers involved in disputing tax assessments from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). Under the guidance and training of the supervising attorney, students will handle all aspects of the appeal. This includes the student being the contact between the client and the tax agency. Students will make all required hearing appearances whether formal or informal, and negotiate directly with settlement attorneys from CDTFA.

Practical Tax Skills Courses

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

In previous semesters, the Graduate Tax Program has offered PTS courses like Practical Tax Controversy Skills, Tax Deals, Tax Law and Data Analytics Practicum, Tax Modeling for Lawyers, Tax Planning for M&A and Real Estate Transactions, and Tax Planning for Small and Medium Size Businesses.