Staff Attorney, LITC, Consumer Unit MEMPHIS AREA LEGAL SERVICES (MALS)

Job Title: Staff Attorney, LITC, Consumer Unit
Reports to: Managing Attorney, Consumer Unit
Date Updated: June 2018

About Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS): MALS is the primary provider of civil legal representation for low income individuals and families in Fayette, Lauderdale, Shelby, and Tipton counties in Tennessee who are facing critical, sometimes life-threatening situations. Legal assistance is provided through advice and counsel, representation in court and administrative proceedings, and community education and outreach to vulnerable residents. Since 1970, MALS has grown to become a multi-faceted community law firm guided by values and principles that embody its commitment to equal access to justice for all.

About the Consumer Unit:  The Consumer Unit handles a wide variety of civil legal matters. It engages in legal actions for individuals who have been subject to unfair and deceptive acts and otherwise fraudulent practices in consumer transactions by predatory businesses and lenders. It provides legal advice and assistance to individuals in debt collection matters, contract and warrant disputes, utility bill disputes, special education matters, student loan problems, and other issues involving individual civil rights. The unit receives funding through the Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITC) to provide legal assistance to individuals with tax disputes, and provides representation to individuals in unemployment hearings, and in cessation and overpayment (social security) cases. The unit also provides regular outreach services to Latino Memphis, a monthly bankruptcy clinic at MALS, and a weekly help-desk style in the courthouse called the Consumer Rights Clinic.

About the Low-Income Tax Clinic (LITC):  LITC assists taxpayers who have disputes pending before the Examination or Appeals Division of the Internal Revenue Service or who have cases below $50,000 pending before the U.S. Tax Court.  LITC handles issues including:  earned income credit, dependency exemption, head of household filing status, tip income, innocent (injured) spouse claims, self-employed audits, employee-independent contractor issues, and collections.

Position Description:  This position reports to the Managing Attorney of the Consumer Unit. It is responsible for representing clients on federal income tax issues in a variety of forums including the U.S. Tax Court. It also advises clients and works with the LITC Director/Staff Attorney and volunteers.

Key Responsibilities:
The duties of the Staff Attorney include:

Legal
•    Conducts interviews of clients, including home visits, when appropriate; gives legal advice; and performs all other case management duties and responsibilities
•    Represents low-income taxpayers and individuals who speak English as a second language in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service, including audits, appeals, collection matters, and federal tax litigation; helps with responding to IRS notices and correct account problems; and provides education about taxpayer rights and responsibilities
•    Conducts legal research; prepares and drafts legal documents, pleadings, motions, briefs, appeals, case memos, and referral memoranda, as appropriate
•    Identifies impact issues and implements plans designed to address identified problems on a broader scale under the guidelines and support of the Unit Managing Attorney and/or the Chief Advocacy Officer
•    Works with pro bono attorneys and private law firms as needed
•    Participates in case acceptance decisions for legal services, in consultation with the Managing Attorney of the Consumer Unit
•    Acts in accordance with the Code of Professional Responsibility
•    Maintains strong working knowledge of all policies, procedures, laws, rules and regulations governing the office and carries out case handling and case management duties and responsibilities accordingly

Relationships/Partnerships/Outreach
•    Maintains and promotes a positive relationship with the local bar and judiciary
•    Actively participates in bar activities, particularly the Memphis Bar Association and other bar associations in MALS’ service area
•    Maintains and promotes a positive working relationship with unit staff and other members of MALS staff
•    Works with the LITC Director and volunteers in community outreach and education activities within MALS’ four county service area

Professional Development
•    Stays up-to-date on the state of the law and procedures within area(s) of practice
•    Actively participates in professional development, including state and national conferences, to increase knowledge about the law and legal issues

Administrative
•    Maintains case files in accordance with case management procedures and protocols, time logs of daily activities, and a tickler system and calendaring of events for all client files; maintains accurate records and secures and enters data for required reports
•    Closes case files in a timely manner and submits to Managing Attorney of the Consumer Unit for review
•    Supervises law clerks, paralegals, support staff and volunteers as assigned

Other
•    Collaborates with other staff as needed
•    Performs other duties as requested by the Managing Attorney of the Consumer Unit

Qualifications:
MALS is seeking a dynamic individual with a demonstrated commitment and passion for equal justice and legal assistance to low-income populations. Candidates should be admitted or have a pending admission to the Tennessee Bar; at least one (1) year of legal experience; federal tax experience or LITC experience preferred; demonstrated commitment and sensitivity to the low-income community; ability to speak Spanish fluently a plus.  This is a grant funded position.

Applicants should have:
•    Admission or pending admission to the Tennessee State Bar
•    At least one (1) year of legal experience or equivalent preferred
•    Federal tax experience or LITC experience preferred
•    Experience in legal services, nonprofit environment, and knowledge of poverty law preferred
•    Excellent oral and written communication skills
•    Strong work ethic, analytical and organizational skills, and the ability to think and plan strategically
•    Excellent interpersonal skills
•    Ability to work in a fast-paced, multi-faceted, and high volume environment
•    Excellent computer, administrative, reporting and data entry skills
•    Demonstrated commitment and sensitivity to the low-income community
•    Ability to speak Spanish fluently a plus

Status: Exempt

Please send a letter of interest, your resume, a writing sample and three references  to nmcgee@malsi.org; you will be asked to complete an employment application. MALS is an E.O.E.