VITA Clinic Wins 2014 Pro Bono Award

OXFORD, Miss.–The University of Mississippi School of Law’s VITA Tax Clinic has been awarded the 2014 Pro Bono Award from the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project (MVLP).

Tiffany Graves with Professor Donna Davis, Adrea Watford, Professor Debbie Bell and Dean Richard Gershon.

Left to Right: MVLP Executive Director Tiffany Graves with Professor Donna Davis, Adrea Watford, Associate Dean Debbie Bell and Dean Richard Gershon.

MVLP’s award recognizes lawyers, students, law programs and other Mississippians who were involved in significant pro bono services to low-income individuals with civil and criminal matters.  Twelve clinic students and Donna Davis, professor in charge of the Tax Assistance Practicum, helped clients with 254 returns totaling $212,145.

“We continue to be so impressed with Professor Bell’s work and the work of the Pro Bono Initiative,” said Tiffany Graves, former executive director of MVLP. “We are grateful for the partnerships we have forged with the Law School over the last several years and we look forward to collaborating for many years to come.”

The VITA program is an overall initiative of the IRS, with the law school’s clinic managing this particular site.  Adrea Watford, student director of the clinic, served as the liaison between the school and its Internal Revue Service agent.  Students manage and staff an IRS-funded Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program at the Oxford-Lafayette Public Library. 

“Students are at the public library every Tuesday and Thursday from late January until tax time, providing hundreds of hours of assistance and returning thousands of dollars to the community through tax refunds,” said Debbie Bell, associate dean for clinical programs at the law school. “I want to thank all involved for their hard work.”

The award was presented at the 2014 Pro Bono Awards Dinner on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014 at Gallery 119 on 119 South President Street in Jackson.

To learn more about the Tax Clinic, please visit their webpage.