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May 26, 2022 Pro Bono Matters

Recipient of the 2022 Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award: Karen Lapekas

The Section of Taxation Pro Bono Award was established in 2002 to recognize one or more individuals or law firms that have provided meritorious pro bono service in the representation to low-income taxpayers. During the Hybrid 2022 May Tax Meeting, Section Chair Julie Divola presented the 2022 Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award to Karen Lapekas.

It is my honor to introduce Karen Lapekas as the recipient of this year’s Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award.

Karen currently owns her own law firm, Lapekas Law, which she founded in 2013 and is an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School of Law, where she teaches Federal Tax Practice & Procedure. Prior to starting her own law firm, Karen was a former senior attorney at the IRS Office of Chief Counsel and a former Special Assistant United States Attorney at the Department of Justice.

Leveraging her extensive experience in federal tax controversy matters, Karen has taken on numerous pro bono matters for the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at Legal Services of Greater Miami, chaired the South Florida U.S Tax Court Calendar Call Program for several years and participated in every U.S. Tax Court Settlement Day since their inception in 2016.

Mary Ann David, the director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at Legal Services of Greater Miami, recalls a specific instance demonstrating Karen’s willingness to jump in full heartedly to help:

[W]hile a new mother with an infant waiting for her back at the office, Ms. Lapekas picked up a pro bono case at the Tax Court Calendar Call, entered a Limited Entry of Appearance, tried the case that very afternoon and won! The case involved an appeal from a CDP Determination and was featured in Procedurally Taxing.

Karen’s contributions to the community transcend the federal tax controversy sphere. She also serves as the secretary of the board of directors of Legal Services of Greater Miami, as a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters Miami since 2012 and as a voluntary attorney for children in foster care through Lawyers for Children America.

Please join me in recognizing Karen Lapekas for her outstanding and sustained commitment to pro bono.