2018 Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award

The Section of Taxation presented our annual Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award to Professor Kathryn Sedo, retired professor at the University of Michigan's Law School, and to Dale Kensinger, retired volunteer for the Federal Tax Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, during the Section’s Plenary Luncheon on February 10 at the our Midyear Meeting in San Diego.

In her citation, Kathryn Sedo was described as a "pioneer in the movement" for representation of low-income taxpayers. As the country’s longest tenured and founding director of the LITC at the University of Minnesota Law, her career has tracked the most significant moments in the history of the low-income taxpayer representation movement. She successfully litigated dozens of influential cases before the U.S. Tax Court and U.S. Court of Appeals on behalf of the low-income tax community. She has also been a dedicated leader in the Tax Section, serving as vice chair and chair of the Pro Bono and Tax Clinics committee, and a member of the Public Service Fellowship committee in addition to presenting on numerous panels at Tax Section meetings.

After a 30-year career in the IRS Chief Counsel’s Office, Dale Kensinger served as the codirector of the University of Missouri, Kansas City’s LITC for a decade. Following his retirement, Mr. Kensinger was recruited by the Veterans Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School to assist veterans with tax issues. After several years of increasing numbers of taxpayers seeking his assistance and students benefiting from his knowledge and guidance, Harvard Law School decided to start a separate Federal Tax Clinic in 2015. Dale continues to mentor Harvard Law School LITC students and fellows, and averages 500 volunteer hours per year.

The Pro Bono Award was established in 2002. Its name was changed to the Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award in 2007 to honor the work and legacy of the late Janet Spragens, founder of the first LITC now named for her at the Washington College of Law at American University. Professor Spragens worked for many years to ensure representation for low-income taxpayers. The award is presented each year to an individual or law firm that has demonstrated outstanding and sustained commitment to pro bono legal services, particularly with respect to federal and state tax law.