Lauren Heron (J.D. ’21) was always interested in law, but it wasn’t until she was unfulfilled in her job as a technical writer at an engineering firm that it pushed her to pursue it as a career. She began working at a family law firm and was impressed with the attorneys’ empathy, knowledge and ability to help so many clients at once, which sealed the deal for her to attend Georgia State Law.
While originally open to all kinds of law, she’s spent the past two years honing her skills in tax law, where she is in her fourth semester with the Philip C. Cook Low Income Taxpayer Clinic. Here, she discusses the importance of clinical work and why Georgia State Law was the right choice for her.
How did you become interested in tax law?
At first, I wasn’t. I took Basic Federal Taxation over the summer after my first year with the expectation of just adding another three credits to my transcript. I was surprised to find that we learned a lot about policy and politics/legislation and how that affects the tax laws. It was much more interesting than I would have thought, because I went in with the idea that tax law would be math-based and cut and dry. It was also great to take a class that seemed so practical and relevant versus a lot of the more conceptual classes we take in law school.
What have been some of the most impactful moments from being in the Tax Clinic?
The best moments are always being able to call the taxpayer and tell them that their case has been resolved in their favor. It doesn’t happen often because IRS cases take a long time but hearing the relief and their voice and knowing that you helped move that along is a really great feeling. We also have Pro Bono Days at the clinic. That is when the IRS counsel’s office comes, and they try to settle as in many cases in advance of the tax court deadline. It’s a relaxed setting and we get to meet these taxpayers for the first time, they tell us their story and then we meet with IRS Council’s Office to try to settle it. It’s really educational and a lot of thinking on your feet, but it’s really rewarding too.
Overall, I like that the clinic gives you the freedom to handle as many cases as they feel you can balance. More than any other experience in law school, the Tax Clinic has furthered the skills I will need after law school. The larger caseloads allow students to practice time management and prioritizing, and the client contact allows you to begin to practice how, what, and when to communicate with clients. Also, the independence aspect of it is something unique to the clinic experience. Obviously, we are not practicing attorneys yet, but the clinic allows you to independently practice as a “student attorney” which has been a great experience because it allows you to practice advocacy.
Are you glad you chose Georgia State for law school?
Yes, I might be biased but I really do think Georgia State is the best. The professors are great in their areas of expertise first of all, but then they also want you to succeed outside of the classroom. I’ve seen that in all my classes really. You can go to them about anything and they’re so willing to help. Especially the tax professors here, they’re fantastic. I’m very thankful that I came to Georgia State Law because I think our community is the best here. I’ve definitely made lifelong friendships, so I can’t imagine going anywhere else.
Interview by Mara Thompson