Need Help With a Nonprofit Matter?
Whether you are just getting your charitable organization started or it’s already up and running, you will want an attorney you can turn to for advice. Legal issues arise at all stages with a nonprofit--from obtaining tax exemption to structuring your board and creating operating bylaws to fundraising, hiring and firing employees, signing leases and other contracts, and dealing with copyright and intellectual property issues. When something comes up (as it’s bound to), you’ll want to make sure you have an attorney with nonprofit expertise to whom you can turn for advice.
Too often, nonprofits mistakenly believe that, because their budget is low and they’re trying to do good, they can wait until a problem arises to hire an attorney. This can be a costly mistake. An experienced nonprofit lawyer will help you set things up properly and advise you along the way so you don’t run into bigger problems (such as state or IRS enforcement actions) later. Getting sound legal advice early on about things like registering to fundraise in other states, obtaining adequate liability protection, nonprofit accounting standards and limitations, and hiring and firing employees can pay off tremendously in the long run. It also frees you up to spend time doing what matters most--serving your mission and growing your nonprofit.
Looking for a Nonprofit Lawyer?
At Lawyers.com, you’ll find a user-friendly search tool that allows you to tailor results by area of law and geography. You can also search for attorneys by name. Attorney profiles prominently display contact information, list topics of expertise, and show ratings—by both clients and other legal professionals.
Ready to Meet With a Nonprofit Lawyer?
Before hiring a lawyer or law firm, make sure to speak directly—preferably in person—to the attorney who will be primarily responsible for handling your matter. Consider bringing to the conversation a list of questions and any documentation you have related to your planned or existing nonprofit and the issues you want to address. Remember that you don’t need to hire the first lawyer you consult and that, first and foremost, you want a lawyer you trust.
What Questions to Ask a Nonprofit Lawyer
When gathering your thoughts and documents, think about what you’ll want to ask the lawyer. Consider including on your list questions about:
- the lawyer’s experience with nonprofit formation and operational matters
- the lawyer’s familiarity or access to expertise within the same firm concerning other rules and regulations related to your nonprofit, such as leasing or purchasing property, employment matters, and business or tax law (for instance, if you will be earning funds partly through sales or for-profit business activities)
- who else will work on your case or matter
- whether the attorney will charge you on a flat-fee or hourly basis, and what other fees and expenses to expect, and
- the lawyer’s initial thoughts or advice about your issues and questions and how the lawyer would help.