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Title: Assistant Chief, Civil Trial Section/Southwest Region Location: Dallas Age: 57 Taxing Times Ask Grover Hartt III what the best part of his job is and he says: “You get to stand up in court and say, ‘I represent the United States.’” Sure, patriotism is in vogue in these troubled times, but Hartt has been proudly professing it on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Taxation Division since 1982. In that time, he earned the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award in 1996 and became the most widely respected bankruptcy and tax lawyer in the federal government. Bankruptcy work, which often involves tax issues, exploded in Texas in the early 1980s. Hartt saw an ad for the taxation division, and was hired on the strength of his litigation experience. He later earned his LLM in taxation at Southern Methodist University School of Law. For 23 years, Hartt has tried cases in tax and bankruptcy court, representing government interests in matters large and small. He’s been wooed by big firms, but stayed at Justice because the work still intrigues him. “It always is interesting. The cases continue to change. You may have the same issue come up, but the factual pattern may be different,” he says. And, he adds, the opportunity to set precedent is worth taking a $4,000 case regarding lien priorities, for example, to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Hartt also serves the future of the practice by mentoring younger lawyers in the division and actively participating in the American Bar Association’s Taxation Section. Mary A. McNulty has worked in the section with Hartt for more than a decade. She says he has been essential as a liaison between the government and the private bar, and as a recruiter for top-level speakers. “We need Department of Justice lawyers to be included. We want the top people. He is the one who gets all those people for us,” says McNulty, a partner in Thompson & Knight. Hartt, described as reticent, can use his longevity and status when moved to during a case. Thomas D. Johnston remembers representing ExxonMobil Corp., and opposing Hartt, in a 20-year-old tax-refund case. The case went to mediation at the 5th Circuit, and in 2003 Hartt finally was able to bring the government to the table and negotiate terms. “Grover drove the ship from the time he got the case, and he was able to stand up to people at the IRS who had resisted settlement for several years,” says Johnston, a member of Miller & Chevalier in Washington, D.C. Hartt thinks his section can more effectively serve the government by entering bankruptcy cases earlier and widening the scope of the government’s involvement. Notes Hartt, “Six months into the case, there may be an objection to the tax claim; by then something may adversely affect the government. If you can take that broader role, there are more things you can do to protect the government.”

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