Oakland Lawyer to Receive National Pro Bono Award from _ Tax Section
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30, 2004 — The _ Section of Taxation today announced that it will present its annual Pro Bono Award to Oakland lawyer Karen L. Hawkins of Taggart & Hawkins, P.C., during a luncheon at the section’s 2004 May Meeting in Washington, D.C, on Saturday, May 8.
The ABA Tax Section Pro Bono Award is presented each year to an individual lawyer or law firm who has demonstrated outstanding and sustained commitment to pro bono (free) legal services, particularly with respect to federal and state tax law.
“Karen has been a very special leader throughout her career. She epitomizes the highest standard of professionalism in her tax practice and has continually demonstrated a strong commitment to assuring that all taxpayers have reasonable access to the tax system,” said Richard A. Shaw, chair of the Section of Taxation. “We are pleased to recognize her significant contributions with this National Pro Bono Award.”
Hawkins, who received her law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in 1979 and her MBA-Taxation from the same University in 1981, has been actively involved in pro bono activities throughout her legal career.
In 1992 Hawkins designed and implemented a nationally recognized pro se/pro bono Tax Court project for Northern California that matches experienced tax litigators with pro se litigants (people who represent themselves before the court without an lawyer). Lawyers who volunteer serve taxpayers in a mediation or instructional capacity by assisting them in resolving cases without going to a trial or, when mediation is unsuccessful, educating them on how best to present their cases in court. Hawkins has overseen, coordinated and served as a volunteer for the project for the past 12 years. She has also taken on additional pro bono clients outside the program, and in several instances obtained decisions that made or changed tax law.
Despite her heavy client load and the fact that she is in a two-person firm, Hawkins says she continues to make time for pro bono clients. “I care about how the system works,” said Hawkins. “It is in the best interest of all taxpayers that the system works properly. Too often, those least able to pay are the most in need of assistance. They are easier targets in the tax collection bureaucracy. When the government takes the last $500 from an individual taxpayer’s bank account, it is as devastating for that person as any seven-figure assessment against a multinational corporation.”
The ABA Tax Section Pro Bono Award was initiated in 2002 at the recommendation of the Section’s Special Pro Bono Task Force. For more information about the May Meeting, including a complete listing of all programs and committee meetings, visit the ABA Section of Taxation Web site, www.abanet.org/tax.
The _ Section of Taxation has more than 20,000 tax lawyer members nationwide. Its goals include helping taxpayers better understand their rights and obligations under the tax laws and working to make the tax system fairer, simpler and easier to administer.
The _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. With more than 400,000 members, the ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public.