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Home  > Article

IRS Careers: Attorney, Office of Chief Counsel

By Experience

With the Internal Revenue Service as its client and 1,500 attorneys on staff, the Office of Chief Counsel is the preeminent employer for tax attorneys in the country.

Attorney, Office of Chief Counsel, IRS

With the Internal Revenue Service as its client and 1,500 attorneys on staff, the Office of Chief Counsel is the preeminent employer for tax attorneys in the country. Why? Because IRS attorneys are valued assets and the legal experience provided in Chief Counsel is unlike any other. We have approximately 650 attorneys located in the National Office in Washington, DC and 850 attorneys in field offices throughout the US.

Through its Honors Program, the Office of Chief Counsel provides unique career opportunities to entry-level attorneys who have recently graduated from law school or earned a Master of Laws in Taxation.?The IRS?also hire law students through the Summer Intern Program, as well as practicing attorneys who have relevant legal experience.

Chief Counsel attorneys provide top-quality legal advice and representation to the IRS in the administration of the nation's tax laws. Chief Counsel field attorneys litigate interesting and challenging issues that range from taxation of individuals to complex international entities. Attorneys in the field find themselves working on exciting and challenging issues involving litigation, corporate law, criminal tax law, disclosure law and international taxation. One organizational element, General Legal Services, focuses on personnel and labor law, as well.

Chief Counsel attorneys in the National Office draft regulations and rulings, and provide legal guidance to taxpayers, the IRS and the Treasury and Justice Departments. While direct trial work in the National Office is limited, attorneys have an extraordinary opportunity to develop expertise and sharpen technical skills. Furthermore, both field and National Office attorneys have the opportunity to work with a variety of tax practitioners and distinguish themselves within the greater tax and legal communities.

Working as an attorney for the Office of Chief Counsel offers a unique opportunity to serve the public interest by providing correct and impartial interpretation of the Federal tax laws without bias in favor of either the taxpayer or the government.




The Work Environment

Chief Counsel attorneys are given their own docket of cases and the responsibility for handling them. All of our attorneys have the opportunity to perform increasingly more responsible and independent work as rapidly as they can undertake it. Attorneys are assigned to practice groups in the field, or branches in the National Office, where they share their ideas with their peers and managers. Being part of a larger organization also allows our attorneys to draw upon the experience and advice of field and National Office experts who have mastered particular areas of the law.?The IRS believe this is one of the most attractive aspects of employment with the Office of Chief Counsel.

IRS?Special Trial Attorneys are?more senior attorneys who handle our largest and most complex cases. Often, other attorneys will be asked to assist Special Trial Attorneys on these large cases involving millions, or even billions, of tax dollars and cutting-edge issues. In each case, those assisting attorneys have substantial responsibility and gain valuable experience.

Senior Counsel and Senior Advisors are new and highly regarded positions in the field and National Office. Attorneys in these positions are legal experts on either substantive tax matters or other matters related to their specific IRS client organization. They also serve as the primary liaison between other Chief Counsel and IRS offices.

The?goal is always to provide our attorneys with a challenging and exciting work experience, to help them sharpen their legal skills through training and work assignments, and to provide them the opportunity to further their careers in the Office of Chief Counsel. Through GS-14, attorneys receive career promotions on the basis of their own performance - not on the basis of competition with someone else within the office. This helps to foster an atmosphere of helpful cooperation.?The IRS?fully supports their professional development because?success depends upon their success.?The extensive automation tools and support teams greatly assist in accomplishing these goals. Chief Counsel not only provides an intellectually challenging and exciting work environment, but also one that recognizes the need to balance career and personal interests.

Attorneys work for one of 13 major counsel organizations, based on their particular interests, qualifications and our staffing needs. Their work is focused on the particular office's area of responsibility, such as criminal tax, corporate or international tax. Together, field and National Office attorneys strive to develop and apply basic principles and rules for the uniform interpretation, application, and enforcement of federal tax laws. Whether attorneys are in a field office or National Office position, they receive substantial and thorough training and responsibility.

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Where You Might Work

Chief Counsel is a dynamic organization performing diverse types of work in more than 50 locations throughout the country. What does all this mean to you? It means you have an unusually wide array of professional options and geographic locations to choose from. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate our far-reaching impact is to provide a snapshot of?the offices.

National Office in Washington, DC
Field and National Office
Counsel Field Functions


IRS Chief Counsel Recruitment Programs

Chief Counsel Honors Program
The IRS Chief Counsel Honors Program is designed for third-year law students, recent JD graduates, graduating LLM students and judicial law clerks . This program allows lawyers to begin their careers as law clerks at the Office of Chief Counsel before becoming members of the bar. Entry-level positions allow you to acquire significant training and experience in tax law upon graduation. Honors Program positions at the IRS Office of Chief Counsel are open to approximately 40 individuals each year who have superior academic qualifications or relevant experience to the work of Chief Counsel. Appointments under the Honors Program are made at GS-11, Step 8 for JD applicants, and at GS-12, Step 4 for LLM applicants. Recruitment Bonuses and payment of travel for call back interviews may also be available for exceptionally well-qualified candidates.

Summer Law Intern Program
The Summer Law Intern Program is available for first- and second-year law students in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, National Office in Washington, DC and select cities around the nation. The program provides exposure to the Office of Chief Counsel by enabling law students to work for the Office under the supervision, and with the assistance of, experienced tax lawyers. The training and work experience helps prepare interns for a career as a tax lawyer and also provides an excellent view of what the practice of law is like at the Office of Chief Counsel. In the National Office, interns take part in a variety of training, educational and social events, as well as interagency tours and presentations. Offers of full-time employment may be made to some second-year summer interns at the conclusion of the program. These summer positions are available at the GS-7 and GS-9 grade levels. Selections for the Summer Law Intern Program are made on a rolling basis from September through February, until all available positions are filled. Early applications are encouraged. However, first-year students should not apply before December 1.

Lateral Program
The Lateral Program is for attorneys who have graduated from an American Bar Association accredited law school and have more than one year of professional legal experience. Appointments generally range from GS-12 to GS-14, depending upon experience. Attorneys with one year of general legal or tax experience qualify for the GS-12 level. Generally, attorneys with two or three years of tax experience qualify for grades 13 or 14, respectively. The Office hires approximately 60 attorneys each year under this program.

Volunteer Legal Externship Program (Extern Program)
During the academic year, volunteer positions are available in various Chief Counsel offices throughout the nation for a limited number of highly qualified law students from law schools accredited by the American Bar Association. The Extern Program allows law students and LLM candidates to work on either a part-time or a full-time basis, subject to the approval of their law schools. Externs work in the National Office or in field offices with Chief Counsel employees on a variety of educationally related work assignments, and provide legal assistance to attorneys. The program provides opportunities for law students to gain practical work experience while gaining a familiarity with the Chief Counsel organization and our work.

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Benefits of Employment with the Office of the Chief Counsel

Among the benefits and advantages of assuming a position with the Office of Chief Counsel is the opportunity to excel in a work culture that is more than the sum of its parts. Here, you will find a commitment to provide a balance to your working and personal life.and the ability to offer many benefits that are every bit as competitive as those available at leading private-sector firms. In fact, more often than not,?the benefits exceed private-sector offerings.

For instance, consider the following:

Training and Continuing Legal Education
The Office of Chief Counsel has an annual multi-million dollar training program with more than 30 different course topics that range from basic skills courses to graduate-level law school classes. Attorneys also regularly attend courses sponsored by bar associations, colleges and universities. Delivery methods include traditional classroom instruction, distance learning via satellite, as well as video and computer-based training.

Since 1981, Chief Counsel has contracted with New York University School of Law (NYU) for a Continuing Professional Legal Education Program. Through the program, up to 10 graduate-level tax law courses are available on an annual basis, both in the classroom and via satellite. These courses, held during normal working hours, are taught by leading faculty from NYU and other distinguished law schools. Specially designated NYU courses are available for credit toward a Master of Laws in Taxation at both NYU Law School and Georgetown Law School.

These classes are conducted along rigorous, traditional law school lines, with participants tested at the conclusion of each program. This program was a first within the Federal Government and is understandably a source of pride for all?in the Chief Counsel. It has been endorsed by academicians and members of the private bar as perhaps the single most important undertaking to enhance the skills of those professionals entrusted with interpreting and applying the complex and ever-changing federal tax laws.

In-house experts using?interactive video format generally teach advanced technical training on new regulations and issues. These are provided as needed, but normally a dozen programs are broadcast per year.

Finally, the IRS?has implemented an extensive management training program. Since managers work closely with attorneys and have a direct impact upon them,?they feel?they have an obligation to both the managers and attorneys to educate managers in traditional and current management theory and practices. Available coursework includes fundamental leadership training, continuing management education and an Executive Management Development Program taught in conjunction with Georgetown University.

Government Service
Working for the Office of Chief Counsel affords a real opportunity for public service.?Attorneys shape tax law as it affects people's lives. As attorneys performing government service, we assist the IRS in determining and collecting the correct amount of tax. Chief Counsel attorneys are held to the highest ethical standards, both under state bar requirements and under the Federal Government's rules of conduct.

Resources and Support Tools
The Office of Chief Counsel Library is one of the best Federal law libraries in the country. It contains the most extensive collection of materials (including legislative) in the country on federal taxation. The Library provides top-quality research librarians that provide sophisticated research services to our attorneys nationwide with industry-specific electronic access in the areas of accounting, finance, business, international law and taxation.

State-of-the-Art Automation Support?
IRS attorneys have the advantage of a state-of-the-art automated information support system. Built over the years, this system provides each attorney with an up-to-date personal computer loaded with extensive software applications, many of which are customized to be user-friendly and to better support attorney needs. This gives? attorneys more time for legal research and analysis, which improves their effectiveness and efficiency. For example, extensive customized document preparation "macros" and easily accessible numerous legal research databases are readily available on each attorney's desktop computer. Also, automated trial preparation support is used to prepare and try our more complicated and document intensive litigation.

Quality of Life?
The IRS believes that an employee's quality of life is just as important as salary and benefits. We realize that although work is a major part of life, employees have other interests, responsibilities and obligations. In several offices throughout the country, on-site credit unions, daycare facilities and fitness centers are available for Chief Counsel employees. In 13 cities, there are on-site physical fitness programs which include exercise equipment, aerobics, a health screening and maintenance counseling.

Salary and Fringe Benefits

  • Locality Pay
    You will receive a pay adjustment annually based on local labor market conditions.
  • Flexible Work Schedules
    You may be able to take advantage of flexible or compressed work schedules. You may also elect to earn credit hours. Once earned, employees can use credit hours to be absent from work for short periods of time for personal reasons. On a pre-approved basis, you may be able to work on special projects from home or an alternate worksite under our Flexiplace program.
  • Promotion Policy
    Attorneys appointed at GS-11 through GS-14 are eligible for promotion to the next higher grade annually. GS-15 positions and above are usually reserved for supervisors, non-supervisory management officials, senior technical advisors and special litigation assistants. However, more than 100 GS-15 non-managerial positions were recently created for our attorney staff. Promotion candidates compete with other GS-14 attorneys and are currently selected by a board of senior executives.
  • Awards Program
    The Office of Chief Counsel has a generous awards program. Employees may receive cash awards for superior performance or special achievements. Several million dollars is allocated each year to this program.
  • Retirement Plan
    The Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS) provides a basic government pension, social security coverage and a thrift savings plan, which is similar to a 401(k) plan.
  • Insurance Plans
    Employees may choose from a variety of health insurance plans, and the government pays a substantial portion of the cost. Group term life insurance and long-term care insurance plans are also available.
  • Transportation Subsidy
    The Office of Chief Counsel will help pay public transportation commuting costs. In 2002, those who commute via public transportation are eligible to receive up to $100 per month.
  • Annual and Sick Leave
    You will start out earning four hours of annual leave and four hours of sick leave every two weeks. After three years, you will earn six hours of annual leave every two weeks. After 15 years, you will earn eight hours of annual leave.
  • Holiday Leave
    There are 10 paid holidays annually. The President may also declare other holidays in recognition of special events.
  • Leave Programs
    The government-wide leave program allows you to voluntarily donate your annual leave to federal employees in other agencies, and to request the use of donated leave if you face a personal medical emergency. Absences due to maternity/paternity reasons are generally approved for periods between four and six months. An employee may use a combination of sick leave, annual leave and leave without pay to cover this absence.
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How to Apply

The Office of Chief Counsel, IRS is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Selection for positions will be based solely on merit without regard to race, color, religion, age, gender, national origin, political affiliation, disability, sexual orientation, marital or family status or other differences.

Applications
Application packages are accepted throughout the year for all positions, and if you are interested in applying, please click here to view our vacancy announcements on the IRS page of USAJOBS. Select ?0905 ? Attorney? from the Occupational Series menu.

Complete application packages are composed of a resume, a photocopy of your official law school transcript, an 8- to 10-page writing sample, a completed Form 6524 (Click here to download a copy 39KB PDF* ) and a completed Form OF-306 (Click here to download a copy 96KB PDF* ). You may also request to have copies of these forms mailed to you by calling us at (202) 622-4550.

Submitting Your Application
Application packages may be faxed to: (202) 927-6975

Or, you may mail it to the following address:

Office of Chief Counsel, IRS
Ben Franklin Station
P.O. Box 14740
ATTN: Attorney Recruitment, Room 4409
Washington, DC 20044-4740

Or have it hand-delivered to:

Attorney Recruitment Office
Room 4409
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC
Located across the street from the Federal Triangle Metro stop.

Three-Year Tenure Commitment
The Office of Chief Counsel spends a significant amount of time and money training new attorneys to become proficient in the law. Therefore, we expect newly appointed attorneys to remain for a period of three years, unless released from their employment commitment by the Office of Chief Counsel. However, the first year of the three-year commitment is a part of the trial period during which the employee may resign without requesting a release.

Pre-Employment Conditions
All appointments are subject to favorable completion of security and character investigations, as well as a tax check. New appointees must pay all travel and transportation expenses to their first post of duty. Such expenses may qualify for deduction from gross income for purposes of federal income taxation.

The Office of Chief Counsel, IRS provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the point of contact on the announcement. Decisions on granting reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

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