Jean-Jacques Michallon
French tax Attorney
Former Tax Inspector  

The hiring of a lawyer specializing in tax law is not easy. The purpose of this post is to give some advice but is not limited in this respect, trying to be as subjective as possible in view as a lawyer specializing in tax law.

Picking the right tax lawyer is not easy task. Indeed, other professionals, such as accountants, have the skills and experience and may be seen as less expensive than tax lawyers and tax attorneys. However, for complex tax issues and / or strategic ones, we can legitimately consider it preferable to seek advice and assistance from a tax lawyer since he/she was not involved in the daily company affairs and is trained to fight – particularly during a tax audit.

Be aware that a lawyer who has been in regular practice of taxation for several years may obtain, upon passing an oral examination conducted by the Bar Association of which he/she is a member, a certificate of specialization. This will allow it to officially claim the status of ‘lawyer, specializing in tax law. “

You must at least ensure that the lawyer you are about to hire, holds a postgraduate degree in Tax Law. Holders of the certificate of specialization issued by their respective BAR are more likely to provide assistance that meets your needs.

Once a lawyer is shortlisted, it is important to learn about his/her fees. Frequently, tax lawyers charge by the hour. Ask for their hourly rate VAT excluded and request an estimate of time that should be spent on the case whenever possible. It is possible for the drafting of a tax consultation, for example. It is difficult when it comes to a tax audit which is impossible to anticipate how lengthy it will be. You can also ask for a flat fee and success fees that can be agreed upon in a written document which is binding for the tax lawyer.

It is strongly recommended to set forth in writing (a fee agreement for example) and precisely the task entrusted to the lawyer.

There are no fees tables or official rates. Fees are determined by the market and are freely agreed between the clients and their lawyers. Obviously there are no highly specialized tax attorneys that a cheap quality service means these rates are based on the current market. You should know then that rates also vary depending on the structure to which it is addressed. It is obvious that large international firm hourly rates will be likely far higher than those of a small or medium law firm. Finally what matters most is the quality of relationship and the mutual understanding between tax lawyers and clients. They must prevail to ensure that the assistance provided is constantly at the highest level and meets the client’s expectations.