Law Clerk Program Overview
A more challenged law clerk produces higher quality work. Every phase of the program is designed to enhance the Tribunal's mission: to continually improve the quality of its opinions and enhance productivity. With every clerk, the Tribunal expands its legacy to Michigan taxpayers by developing more skilled tax practitioners and improving adjudication at the Tribunal.
Judge Kimbal R. Smith, III supervises the Tribunal's Law Clerk Program. Judge Smith has revamped the law clerk program to ensure clerks reap the full rewards of working at the Tribunal. Judge Smith consults directly with law clerks providing guidance with legal questions related to both property and state tax matters. Judge Smith also recognizes the importance of active learning, allowing law clerks to become fully engaged in the legal process by encouraging them to observe hearings where they witness the procedural and evidentiary concepts taught in law school.
Samantha Snow Shaffer serves as the Chief Administrative Law Specialist for the Tribunal where she works in tandem with Judge Smith overseeing law clerks participating in the Tribunal's Law Clerk Program. Among other things, Ms. Shaffer's duties include training clerks to prepare summaries for small claims hearings, and instructing clerks on drafting various legal documents in accordance with Tax Tribunal Rules and the Michigan Rules of Court. Ms. Shaffer works one-on-one with law clerks to ensure they receive practical hands-on experience necessary for achieving proficiency in various tax controversies.
MISSION STATEMENT: To provide students the opportunities to actively participate in the adjudication of tax disputes and acquire an understanding of procedural rules and Michigan's tax laws.
VISION: To be a judicial resource program that provides future tax practitioners and support teams with an appreciation of tax laws and tax dispute resolution and, by the Tribunal's encouragement and excellence, provides the Tribunal with innovative and committed young professionals of the highest caliber.
VALUES: Integrity, Respect, Accountability, Teamwork and Trust. The program includes at least one full day of substantive tax training. This training day is only the beginning of the formal and informal ongoing educational activities. Through an experiential and learning culture, students integrate classroom with application of tax law and adjudication. The Tribunal's priority is to take theory and law and apply them to the Tribunal's charge.
The Law Clerk Program guidelines, provided below, are regularly revised with the input from law clerks. However, the goal is always the same: provide a challenging, "real life," learning environment.
Law Clerk Program Guidelines:
All students are exposed to the normal professional work load of a Tribunal Member and Administrative Law Judge. Work is further assigned according to the student's area of study, education, i.e., J.D., L.L.M in Taxation, and performance.
All law clerks are expected to dress professionally, work professionally and ethically, perform assigned tasks timely, and maintain regular and reliable attendance. Further, law clerks may not take files or evidence outside the Tribunal offices except in rare instances and with written approval by the Tribunal.