section written by:  

Jean-Jacques Michallon
French tax Attorney
former tax inspector  

The first precaution to take before choosing a tax lawyer is to verify that it actually holds the certificate of specialization in tax . Indeed, each lawyer may act as an ordinary practitioner or choose to specialize. Obtaining a specialization requires passing a test and the practical knowledge in the matter. To pass this examination, the lawyer must provide proof of professional practice for at least 4 years. Each specialization itself contains the “jurisdiction” to allow better identification skills of the lawyer.  Specialization is evidenced by a certificate issued by the Training Center of the College of Lawyers.

You can easily check on the law society directory where all majors are given a lawyer involved. Since the minimum competence is guaranteed by the certificate of specialization, this is for you to check that the profile and experience of your tax lawyer ensure maximum efficiency for the mission. 


Can I tell him everything, even things that might offend ?
It is indeed important not to hide the lawyer you choose, the weaknesses of your case or errors that you may have committed. There is nothing worse than leaving learnt these elements by the opposing party.

> Can I ask all the questions that concern me ?
It is the role of the lawyer to explain in simple terms all aspects of the procedure and the substantive elements that matter in your case. There are no stupid questions especially in tax matters, the provisions are often technical.

> Will my tax attorney completely bound by professional secrecy ?
Yes, the privilege is absolute. The lawyer may not communicate without your knowledge with the tax authorities. He may get in touch with them to represent you – but always with your consent.


> May I ask my lawyer about the type of problems he deals ?
It is absolutely necessary to verify the competence of the lawyer you are about to hire. Its website may, when appropriate, provide practical information about the scope of its activities and expertise. Otherwise, it should not offend him if you ask.

> Is word of mouth decisive in the choice of a lawyer ?
It is less important than before even if we should not ignore it completely. Today, however, much research is carried out online. This is especially true for assistance to tax audit or tax dispute because your relationships are not frequently concerned with these issues in their day-to-day life.

> Is it necessary for practicing in my geographic area ?
In tax matters, it is not necessary because there is no geographical sectorisation. A lawyer can assist a taxpayer before any service in metropolitan France or overseas and be represented before any court.


Is there a fee at the first meeting ?
It is a necessity and this is also related to the relationship of trust to be established during the first contacts. To secure all the parties we recommend the establishment of an engagement letter that sets out precisely the context of the intervention of the lawyer and stipulating the terms of payment and amounts of fees. It is necessary that you be safe from unexpected fees or superior to those that might be raised orally. The written agreement puts you away from this kind of disappointment.


> If my lawyer did not give me satisfaction may I entrust another one with my case ?
The lawyer is not the owner of your case. If confidence falters or if the relationship loses steam, you have the absolute right to take your case or to call another lawyer. You are completely free to hire another attorney at any time.

> Avoid nomadism
Changing of tax attorney is different from the attitude that consists in systematically get the assertions of your lawyer verified by another tax professional. On a particular issue, it poses no difficulty. But if it becomes systematic, it is probably because the relationship between you and him has deteriorated.

> Stay always in tune with your tax lawyer
oth parties, the professional and the client must pay sufficient attention to communicate simply and directly. The relationship of trust must be mutual and maintained. A tax lawyer needs to be consistent with his client to pursue vigorously the course of action agreed. Finally a quality communication between the tax lawyer and his client can guarantee to achieve the best results at the end of a tax audit assistance or a tax dispute.