Bob Probasco

Director, Low Income Tax Clinic and Senior Lecturer

Bob Probasco

There is an irreducible amount of ambiguity and uncertainty in any legal system. This allows all of us to influence the path of the law – whether by working to formally change statutes and regulations, persuading a court or just achieving the right result for a client in an administrative proceeding. For those with a tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty, there is very little that compares to that feeling.

Get to Know Bob Probasco

What drew you to the law?

Fascination with a challenging intellectual discipline. I once read that the primary effect of law school is being forced to question your cherished certainties. That is depressing for some; I found it incredibly attractive. I was a late bloomer, though. There were no lawyers in my hometown (a small town of 1,200 people in rural Iowa), so my concept of the law was based on watching Perry Mason or The Defenders. Those programs were fun to watch but I never thought of that as something I might do. It wasn’t until much, much later that I was exposed to a more expansive view of the law and began to realize I might enjoy it.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Learning – whether from examining something more deeply than I had before, in order to explain it to students, or from viewpoints by students that I hadn’t really considered. The opportunity to contribute to the students’ learning process and professional development is also very rewarding, and their enthusiasm is contagious. Of course, with a tax clinic, there is another very important component. Most taxpayers can’t navigate the tax system by themselves but can’t afford to hire practitioners to achieve the results they deserve. That is an inevitable, but unfortunate, result of the necessary complexity of tax law and procedure. Our clinic helps the tax system work better for our clients and has a much bigger impact than I could have by myself.

What do you hope students gain from your courses?

An understanding of how to work within a complex statutory and regulatory regime; practical knowledge of how to work with clients; interviewing and negotiating skills; creativity in finding a different approach ​when the normal method is blocked; satisfaction from making a difference for the clinic’s clients. And most importantly – fun.

What did you do prior to entering academia?

Before law school, I spent more than twenty years in various accounting and business positions, including with one of the “Big Four” CPA firms – it was the “Big Eight” at the time – and Mobil Oil Corporation. After law school and a year clerking with Judge Lindsay of the Northern District of Texas, I practiced tax law with the Dallas office of Thompson & Knight. (Professor Helge started with T&K at the same time and her office was just down the hall, until she left for academia.) I left T&K in 2014 and started a solo practice, which was also an opportunity to try teaching as an adjunct. Both at T&K and my solo practice, I helped clients who had disputes with the IRS, whether during audits, the administrative appeals process, collection due process hearings, or litigation in the Tax Court or the Court of Federal Claims.

What are you passionate about outside the law?

II enjoy spending time with my wife, visiting new or favorite restaurants, and reading. That may sound like a very sedentary lifestyle, but when my schedule permits, I also enjoy cut-throat aggression and competition – chess tournaments at a semi-professional level. (“Semi-professional” means that the tournaments have cash prizes but I never win enough to break even. I’m good, but there are always players who are better.)

Presentations

Presentations are listed on my CV.

Expertise

  • Tax law
  • Tax procedure

Courses

  • Federal Tax Practice & Procedure
  • Low Income Tax Clinic

Academic Experience

  • Director, Low Income Tax Clinic
    Senior Lecturer
    Texas A&M University School of Law (2016-Present)
  • Adjunct Professor
    University of North Texas College of Law (​2015-2016)
  • A​djunct Professor
    Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law (201​4-​2016)

Education

  • J.D., University of Virginia School of Law
    • Virginia Law Review, Managing Board & Articles Editor
    • Order of the Coif
    • Edwin S. Cohen Tax Prize, for scholarship in tax courses
  • B.A. in Industrial Administration, Iowa State University, with honors

Other Professional Activities

  • State Bar of Texas, Tax Section
    • Member, governing Council, 2011-present
    • Chair, Committee on Government Submissions, 2013-2016
    • Chair, Pro Bono Committee, 2012-2013
    • Vice-Chair, Tax Controversy Committee, 2010-2013
    • Volunteer/Coordinator, Tax Court Pro Bono program, 2008-present
    • Participant, Outreach to Law Schools program
    • Planning Committee, Advanced Tax Law course, 2014-present
    • Scholarship Committee, 2014 and 2016
    • Principal drafter for seven comments letters submitted to IRS or Tax Court, providing responses to various proposed regulations or rule changes; testified twice at related public hearings in Washington, D.C.
  • Dallas Bar Association, Tax Section (Council Member, 2012-2014)
  • American Bar Association, Section of Taxation, Court Procedure & Practice Committee
  • Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants; Dallas CPA Society
  • Planning Committee, University of Texas School of Law Annual Taxation Conference, 2012-present