Going Forward and Reflecting Back

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Thursday, June 30, 2022, was my last day as a Clinical Professor at Harvard. Today, I am retired for the second time though the first time was not a retirement as much as a job change. Harvard has granted me emeritus status which will make it easier for me to stay involved with the clinic and the school. When I retired from Chief Counsel’s office in 2007, the break was clean.

In anticipation of this day many people asked me what I was going to do including quite a number interested in how my retirement would impact the blog. While I am not sure how my retirement will ultimately impact the blog, for the foreseeable future I am still working with Les on the treatise IRS Practice and Procedure as the Principal Contributing Author. As we have discussed on several occasions, the blog started because Les had the idea that we were keeping up with procedural issues anyway, and we might as well occasionally write about them in a blog. Nine years later we are still doing it. Although we did not anticipate when we began the blog that it would become an almost daily event, the work on the blog has definitely assisted in keeping the treatise up to date. As long as I continue to work on the treatise, I anticipate continuing to write on the blog.

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The treatise is a great resource providing detailed information on all aspects of tax procedure. We are now working on updates which we do three times a year. In addition, I am starting to work on a complete revision of the bankruptcy chapter with my former colleague at Chief Counsel’s office, Marilyn Ames, with whom I taught bankruptcy in the internal schools the office provided. In addition to updating the material three times a year we constantly rewrite chapters or create new chapters in order to keep the treatise alive.

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with Les at Villanova when I began my full time teaching career. Following him as the director of the tax clinic there allowed me to learn from the best. For someone who never took a clinic in law school, Villanova supported me through a steep learning curve. Teaching there was a privilege I was fortunate to enjoy coming off of a government job with no academic writing resume and no clinical experience. I am forever grateful to Villanova for taking a chance by hiring me and by providing me with all of the necessary support to allow me to succeed. I am also grateful for the chance to work with great colleagues and students there.

Working at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School was an amazing way to end my career. My colleagues were terrific as were the students. The synergy between the civil legal clinics at the Legal Services Center provided opportunities for finding a path for individuals to solve multiple problems. Harvard permitted the tax clinic to take on cases and issues with no geographical boundaries allowing my students to argue cases or write amicus briefs in numerous circuit and district courts around the country.

It’s hard to describe how rewarding it has been to work at the Legal Services Center because of the colleagues with whom I was privileged to work. Dan Nagin, the director of the Center, provides vision and skill to ensure that all of the disparate parts work together toward the common goal of assisting individuals in need and training students to become excellent and caring lawyers. My tax clinic colleagues, Audrey Patten, Diane Wilson and Jon-Yin Chong, all brought passion as well as expertise to work each day to insure that we could represent as many clients as possible with the best possible service. I am sure the tax clinic will thrive in my absence.

In addition to having terrific colleagues in the tax clinic and the Legal Services Center as a whole, I had the best volunteers. Dale Kensinger, with whom I worked briefly in the same branch when I started with Chief Counsel, IRS in 1977, had already begun to lay the groundwork for the tax clinic when I arrived. At the request of Dan Nagin, Dale was working with the Veterans Clinic to address the tax problems of veterans. Dale became a volunteer in the tax clinic two days a week during my first four and one half years at Harvard handling a large docket of the most difficult offer in compromise and other collection cases as well as dispensing valuable advice to the students and to me. His passing just over two years ago was a deep personal and professional loss.

Carl Smith volunteered with the clinic remotely and even came in for one semester to take over when I went on sabbatical. Carl has such a knowledge of tax procedure and a passion for issues that he can be hard to keep up with. His vision drove the litigation on Tax Court jurisdiction (and refund jurisdiction) that the clinic pursued for six years leading up to the Boechler decision in April. The clinic continues its involvement in that issue with Carl’s assistance even though he has now retired from the many other issues on which he assisted the clinic and its clients. The clinic could not have accomplished its appellate litigation over the years without Carl’s involvement.

Janice Feldman also volunteered remotely after retiring from Chief Counsel bringing her deep knowledge of certain issues, such as innocent spouse, to the clinic and allowing our students and clients to benefit from her experience.

To borrow from Lou Gehrig, I am the luckiest man alive. Starting over 45 years ago, I have had the good fortune to have jobs I have enjoyed working and colleagues I have enjoyed working with. I plan to stay involved with the clinic as a part-time volunteer, with the treatise and with other projects, such as the Center for Taxpayer Rights, while moving into a more leisurely lifestyle that does not involve commuting back and forth from Boston to Richmond.

Thank you to all of the readers of the blog who have provided enriching comments to our posts as well as words of encouragement in email and personal conversations. I hope the relationship will continue.


  1. Jack Townsend says

    Keith, you have contributed a lot to my, other practitioners’, and students’ educations over the years. Thank you. We look forward to future contributions even in “retirement.” Good luck in your “retirement.”

  2. Charles Baer says

    Congratulations, Keith. Retirement is wonderful.

  3. G.T. Wert says

    Keith: What a great career. As s a fellow Richmond District Alum I wish you the best! What’s the next chapter?

  4. David Sams says

    Congratulations once again Keith on your official retirement and your emeritus status! What an amazing career.

  5. Erin Collins says

    Keith – congratulations! However, I suspect you will always be a part of the tax community and although you have move your “office” I expect many great things are yet to come. We have all benefited from your wisdom, numerous contributions to the LITC community, and enthusiastic desire to do the right thing. It has been a pleasure to see what is possible by your efforts to fight the good fight. Welcome to your next chapter and I look forward to your future adventures (tax and personal).

  6. William D. Elliott says

    Congratulations Keith. I have listened to you, read your writing, and learned from you. Your contributions are significant. I hope that your retirement means that you just do something else, but continue helping all of us understand the tax law.

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