Donald Korb, chief counsel of the Internal Revenue Service, is getting a ton of good press these days for his efforts to get the agency into the game of recruiting young tax attorney talent.It’s a rare week that goes by in my office that either I don’t have a direct conversation with a practitioner, or I don’t overhear talk from the editors and writers for our sister publications revolving around the ongoing quest of just about every accounting firm to attract and retain workers. So it’s probably by nature of the even smaller pool of candidates that the competition for tax attorneys isn’t the stuff of surveys and opinion polls.

In recent months however, that does seem to have changed a bit, mostly due to the efforts of Korb’s office. Whenever Korb speaks at top law schools, he delivers a quick sound bite for the benefits of taking a job with the IRS. The pay, between $65,000 and $70,000, might about half of what a first-year attorney could expect from a private firm, but Korb notes the number of benefits -- most attorneys work a 40-hour week, get into a courtroom within the first month and can choose the city where they work.

Last fall, a front-page story in The Wall Street Journal noted that the IRS has 1,500 applicants for the 50 spots it has to fill over the course of the next year. Apparently, the agency decided it was worth the effort and marketing muscle to pursue candidates for such a relatively small number of positions.

Everyone out there is competing for the same pool of workers, and it’s good to see the IRS get in on the marketing game. I start a lot of my days checking out the blog of Cincinnati tax professor Paul Caron, whose site is run under the moniker of the TaxProf. The items on Caron’s site often have an academic bent, and among the regular features are updates on positions with the Internal Revenue Service.

So it wasn’t surprising to recently stumble across a number of the recruiting materials from the IRS's marketing campaign on Caron’s site earlier this month, at http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2007/02/the_irs_office_.html. The green-and-purple PDFs that Caron has uploaded prominently showcase famous IRS alumni, including Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, former Treasury Department official and now partner at Skadden Arps Pam Olson, and former Treasury Department and congressional tax official and now Georgetown professor Ronald Pearlman. That trio, and the others highlighted, have certainly gone on to comfortable surroundings following their stint as a public servant.

The IRS has its own “Careers” section of its Web site of course, http://jobs.irs.gov/home.html, which has a more generalized target audience, but the look and feel of all of the agency’s recruiting collateral seem to make a lot of sense. And it’s smart that the agency is getting into the game of selling itself directly to soon-to-be graduates.

Failing that, there’s always the chance the agency could go the route of reality television. Though I don’t know how strong the chances are that any network would consider green lighting “America’s Next Top Tax Attorney.”

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