UB Tax Clinic alum, Dara Polakoff, receives MSBA Tax Council’s Book Award

Dara_Shulbank

On May 22, 2019, the MSBA Taxation Section’s Annual Irving Shulbank Memorial Dinner and Program was held at the Center Club in Baltimore, Maryland, where the IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig delivered the evening’s keynote address.

The honorees included the University of Baltimore School of Law’s very own UB Tax Clinic alum Dara Polakoff, who received the Council’s book award.

Each year, the MSBA Tax Council awards a $500 monetary book prize to a J.D. or LL.M. candidate interested in practicing tax law in the state of Maryland.

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Immigrant Rights Clinic Student Attorney Reflection

1Centro Sol Spring 2019

(L-R) Immigrant Rights Clinic Student Attorneys Ryan Frace and Stephen Gaines

Journey’s End
By Stephen Gaines, Student Attorney in the Immigrant Rights Clinic

Tonight, a young mother will collect her children, venture out the door, walk down her street in Central America to begin a one-thousand mile walk to another continent, in search of a fresh start. As student attorneys in the Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) at the University of Baltimore School of Law, we are the greeters at the end of that thousand-mile trek.  Our work is the work of an advocate on behalf of those whose suffering, we hope, will end with a new life in the United States of America.

The Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC), through our collaboration with Centro SOL, does some of the most fulfilling work I could hope to do as a law student. Centro SOL is a program at Johns Hopkins Hospital that focuses on providing medical services and health outreach to Latinx community in the Baltimore area. This semester, I had the opportunity to participate in the IRC’s new legal advice and counsel clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital. On a biweekly basis I traveled to the hospital and met with Centro SOL patients in between their doctor visits. Together with my clinic partner, I interviewed the patients about their immigration history and later counseled them on their options.

The individuals we encountered at the clinic endured abuse, violence, trauma, grief, and hardship that would shock any listener. Some have cried telling their fears of threats and the dreadful conditions in their home country.  Many have been persecuted because of their identity as a homosexual, as a political dissident, as a person living with HIV, or as a human who is part of some afflicted social group. Often, the governments either inflicts the harm or is unable or unwilling to protect the persons that are being harmed because of their identity in their particular group.   And, within a year of entering the country, the immigrant asks the United States to provide haven for them. What I just described are the conditions that should qualify an individual for asylum, a very valuable form of relief that leads to many wonderful benefits for the immigrant.  The chief of those benefits is legal status and a path to citizenship where a fresh start is possible.

Over the course of the semester I came to appreciate my role in these immigrants’ journey. As a student attorney working in the clinic, I saw my time at the hospital served as the connection that allows the immigrant to exchange their heartache for a fresh start. That connection doesn’t happen overnight, however.  There is much training involved in the mechanics of finding a fresh start.  As student attorneys, we are trained in the skill of client-centered interviewing, asking questions and listening for elements of a client’s story that will win their case.  After the interview, we must research the law, apply the law, and write a memorandum that explains the law in user-friendly terms. That training is real-time, real-world training, and equips us with tools useful for practice in other areas of law.

And though these skills are valuable in any field of law, I have committed to practicing immigration law in the future.  I have chosen to practice immigration law because it is an area of law that actively animates one of America’s core values: diversity.  Immigration law allows me to personify the value of increasing the vibrancy of America’s cultural fabric. Each person I interview is another addition to the chorus of this nation.  And while not every client receives the benefit of obtaining legal status in America, I am encouraged that many immigration petitions are successful. And I am encouraged because I know that the mother who ventures from home thousands of miles away will be received by us, the students of the IRC, workers at Centro Sol, and the corps of attorneys committed to this cause.

Prof. Gilman: Why the Gender Pay Gap Continues to Exist

UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

Ten years after the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became law in 2009, the pay gap between men and women has narrowed very slightly. Today, the average female worker earns about 80 cents for every dollar that a man earns, an increase of a few pennies over the decade.

Writing in the Jan. 29 issue of The Conversation, UB School of Law Venable Professor of Law Michele Gilman explores the reasons for this persistent inequity and discusses ways to close the gap. Prof. Gilman is director of the Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic and co-director of the Center on Applied Feminism. Read the entire article here.

Venable Professor of Law Michele Gilman

Progress that women have made in attaining pay parity have more to do with “women’s increased educational attainment and entry into the workforce” than to anti-discrimination laws, she says. In hearing complaints of pay discrimination based on gender, she adds, “courts…

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LITC students attend CASH Campaign kickoff

On January 28, 2019, students from the University of Baltimore’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic attended the CASH Campaign of Maryland’s tax season kickoff event at Morgan State University. Also in attendance were Congressman Elijah Cummings and Congressman John Sarbanes, who were present to show their support for the CASH Campaign of Maryland’s great work in our community. The CASH Campaign of Maryland offers free income tax preparation services and promotes economic advancement for low-to-moderate income individuals in Baltimore and throughout Maryland.

Opinion: After Exoneration, Apologies From Government Are Simply Not Enough; Compensation is Needed

UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

There was much rejoicing last month when Clarence Shipley Jr., 47, was completely cleared of all criminal charges in a Baltimore city courtroom after serving 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. The exoneration was the result of investigative work by UB School of Law’s Innocence Project Clinic and the State’s Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit.

Clarence Shipley Jr. and his attorney, Michele Nethercott, of the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Clarence Shipley Jr. and his attorney, Michele Nethercott, of the UB School of Law Innocence Project Clinic.

But as Brianna Ford, Innocence Project clinical teaching fellow and staff attorney, wrote in a Jan. 4 Baltimore Sun op-ed, “The state can do nothing to make up for the 27-year gap in his work experience as he is now faced with finding a job. Struggling to meet basic needs is not a burden that exonerees and their families should shoulder after already having endured decades of wrongful imprisonment.

“The…

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UB LITC Student Attorneys Heading to IRS Chief Counsel, Washington, DC

The University of Baltimore Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic is pleased to announce that two of its student attorneys have secured full-time attorney positions with the Internal Revenue Service’s National Office of Chief Counsel in Washington, D.C. to begin in the fall of 2019.

Dominic DiMattia (J.D. anticipated May 2019) and Hayley Hassan (J.D. anticipated May 2019) were accepted under the Office of Chief Counsel’s Attorney Honors Program.  This rigorous and competitive program is the sole channel for hiring by the IRS’s National Office of Chief Counsel, which provides legal support the IRS nationwide.  As attorneys in that office’s Income Tax and Accounting Division, they will gain and apply expertise in a wide array of substantive tax areas and help implement and set IRS legal policy.

Mr. DiMattia served as a UB LITC student attorney in the spring and fall 2018 semesters, while Ms. Hassan served in the fall 2018 semester and was invited to return in the spring of 2019.  As student attorneys, Mr. DiMattia and Ms. Hassan handled a wide variety of federal tax controversies, including collection matters, administrative disputes before the IRS, and litigation in various federal courts.  In the fall 2018 semester alone, Mr. DiMattia prepared for trial and settled a factually complex matter in U.S. Tax Court, while Ms. Hassan litigated a U.S. District Court tax refund suit raising novel legal issues.

Mr. DiMattia said, “I attribute a big part of landing a job at the IRS to the Tax Clinic. Clinic was the place in law school where I learned the practical skills necessary to practice tax law.  It allowed me to meaningfully contribute to the agency through my work.”

The IRS Honors Program is highly selective and draws applicants from law schools nationwide.  Attorneys chosen for this honor often go on to successful careers in tax law both within and outside the government.  Professor Snyder and the entire University of Baltimore LITC congratulate Mr. DiMattia and Ms. Hassan on achieving these coveted positions.