Jan Pierce Wins 2019 Tax Section Award of Merit

Dominic M. Sagora

Duffy Kekel LLP

For those of us fortunate enough to have had an opportunity to have met with Jan Pierce, it should be no surprise that the OSB Tax Section selected him to receive the 2019 Award of Merit.  The Award of Merit recognizes an attorney’s dedication to professionalism in the practice of tax law in Oregon and willingness to serve as a mentor and role model to less experienced tax attorneys.  Considerations for selecting the recipient of the award include reputation, professional conduct, leadership activities, service within the bar and community in general, and pro bono services.

After serving in the military for four years, Jan enrolled at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas for his undergraduate studies.  After graduation, Jan continued his education at Washburn University School of Law. Jan graduated with honors from law school in 1971, and soon began his clerkship with the U.S. Court for the District of Kansas.  Jan’s position with the U.S. Court for the District of Kansas eventually led him to Portland, Oregon in 1973, where he began his career practicing law as a docket attorney with the IRS.  In 1981, Jan was promoted to Assistant District Counsel in the Portland Office wherein he supervised the civil and criminal work of the Portland IRS attorneys assigned to his group.  In addition, he also supervised the criminal tax work done by IRS attorneys in the four-state area of Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii for a few years during the time he was the Assistant District Counsel.

In 2000, after 27 years of working with the IRS, Jan was eligible for retirement from government service.  Although Jan retired from the IRS, he was not ready to stop practicing law.  He dedicated the next 19 years of his career to advocating on behalf of clients in the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic at Lewis and Clark (the “LITC”).  While leading the LITC, Jan helped develop and mentor many of the lawyers who compose our tax law community today.

Under Jan’s tutelage, students in the LITC developed many skills that they would not have otherwise developed in law school.  Students in the LITC tried cases and even appealed two cases to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Notably, in 2015, a student in the LITC had the unique opportunity to argue in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the U.S. Tax Court incorrectly interpreted the Qualified Offer Rule when applied to unilateral concession by the IRS after trial.  Agreeing with the student and the LITC, the Ninth Circuit reversed the Tax Court’s decision, and remanded the case for a determination of the amount of attorney fees the LITC was entitled to receive from the IRS.  During Jan’s tenure, the LITC received $150,000 in attorney fees during the period of 2000 to 2015.

Although the Clinic is in great hands under Sarah Lora’s stewardship, Jan will be missed at Lewis and Clark and in the tax law community in general.  Jan dedicated his career to public service and mentoring students and attorneys in our community.  Now, Jan is looking forward to spending more time with his five children and fourteen grandchildren with his well-deserved free time.