Michelle L. Drumbl Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Robert O. Bentley Professor of Law, and Director, Tax Clinic

Phone: 540-458-8545

Email: mdrumbl@wlu.edu

Office: 407 Lewis Hall 

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Area of Expertise

Federal Income Taxation of Individuals, International Income Tax, Clinical Instruction


BA, 1996, Emory University

JD, 1999, George Washington University

LLM, 2002, New York University


Michelle Lyon Drumbl is the Robert O. Bentley Professor of Law and Director of the Tax Clinic at Washington and Lee University School of Law. Her teaching and research interests focus on the federal income taxation of individuals, tax procedure, and tax policy.

As Director of the Tax Clinic, Professor Drumbl oversees students as they provide pro bono representation to low-income taxpayers who have post-filing controversies with the Internal Revenue Service and educate taxpayers about their tax rights and responsibilities. Since 2008, the Tax Clinic has been awarded more than $1 million in federal funds by the Internal Revenue Service's Low Income Taxpayer Clinic grant program.

Professor Drumbl's scholarship focuses on the intersection of low-income taxpayers and fiscal policy, exploring such issues as refundable tax credits, filing status, innocent spouse relief, and return preparer fraud. In a conversation with Tax Notes (reprinted in Forbes), Professor Drumbl described her scholarship and career path in tax law. Her book, Tax Credits for the Working Poor: A Call for Reform (Cambridge University Press, 2019) identifies shortcomings in how the United States delivers social benefits through its tax system and gazes elsewhere - to programs abroad - to reimagine possibilities for improving administration of the earned income tax credit and bolstering the credit's effectiveness. The book has been reviewed in the Modern Law Review, JOTWELL, the Journal of the American Taxation Association, the Florida Tax Review, and the Journal of Social Policy.

Her articles have appeared in the South Carolina Law Review, Oregon Law Review, Temple Law Review, Tax NotesFlorida Tax Review, Columbia Journal of Tax LawPittsburgh Tax Review, and the eJournal of Tax Research.  Her article examining the nature and nuance of earned income tax credit noncompliance, Beyond Polemics: Poverty, Taxes, and Noncompliance, was awarded the Cedric Sandford Medal for best paper at the 12th International Conference on Tax Administration in Sydney.

Professor Drumbl has held visiting appointments at Queen’s University Belfast and Bucerius Law School in Hamburg. She is a guest blogger on Procedurally Taxing, has contributed as a chapter author in several editions of the American Bar Association Tax Section's practitioner reference book, Effectively Representing Your Client Before the IRS, and co-authored Skills & Values: Federal Income Taxation (LexisNexis, 2011). She currently serves as Chair of the ABA Tax Section’s Teaching Taxation Committee and serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for The Tax Lawyer. Professor Drumbl received an LL.M. in Taxation from New York University, a J.D. with honors from George Washington University, and a B.A. in Political Science from Emory University.  Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Drumbl was an attorney at the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, where her work focused on the legal interpretation of bilateral income tax treaties and other cross-border taxation issues for the U.S. government.  Her prior private practice experience includes tax controversy work and tax planning.  She is a member of the bar in Virginia and Arkansas.

Recent Publications

Experiential Law: Evolving with the World, Virginia Lawyer (2021)

#Audited: Social Media and Tax Enforcement, Oregon Law Review (2021)

Bankruptcy, Taxes, and the Primacy of IRS Refund Offsets: Copley v. United States, South Carolina Law Review (2021)

Tax Credits for the Working Poor: A Call for Reform, Cambridge University Press, (2019)

Tax Attorneys as Defenders of Taxpayer Rights, Temple Law Review (2019)

Commentary on Cheshire v. Commissioner, in Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions (Bridget J. Crawford & Anthony C. Infanti, eds.) (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Joint Winners, Separate Losers: Proposals to Ease the Sting for Married Taxpayers Filing Separately, 19 Florida Tax Review 399 (2016).

Beyond Polemics: Poverty, Taxes, and Noncompliance, eJournal of Tax Research, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 253-290, Nov. 2016.

- See Prof. Drumbl's full list of publications at her Scholarly Commons page.