Nonprofits’ need for legal advice begins with the process of filing for incorporation and obtaining tax exemption, continues through the establishment of governance and management policies, and persists because of subsequent business needs which give rise to questions related, for example, to compliance and filings; contracts; real estate, employment and privacy issues; environmental issues; fundraising regulations; intellectual property issues; lobbying; and mergers and other formal collaborations.
Pro Bono Partnership, Inc.
Pro Bono Partnership, Inc.
Director, Hartford Program (for all of CT except Fairfield County)
Why is this assistance important to these clients?
A nonprofit organization, like any other corporation, regularly needs business legal advice to understand the complex web of overlapping state and federal regulations by which it is governed. Ongoing access to legal advice is necessary to ensure that a nonprofit 1) operates within the law; and 2) makes effective business decisions in support of its programs and clients. Unfortunately, most nonprofits lack the funds to hire lawyers without using resources needed to deliver community services. Even in those cases where lawyers serve on nonprofits’ boards, those attorneys generally do not have the legal expertise to address the full spectrum of corporate legal needs a nonprofit organization may face. The Pro Bono Partnership addresses this issue by recruiting business and transactional attorneys who represent a broad range of business legal expertise to provide pro bono legal assistance.
What legal problem do these clients face?
What legal strategies do the pro bono lawyers use to assist the clients?
Business and transactional attorneys volunteering through the Pro Bono Partnership use the same skills and strategies they employ on a daily basis on behalf of their corporations or law firms.
What are the outcome goals of this assistance?
The goal is to help nonprofits comply with applicable law and best practices, without diverting resources the nonprofits need to feed the hungry, house the homeless, promote the arts, protect the environment and provide essential programs to children, the elderly, immigrants, the disabled and the unemployed.
Give a short (1-paragraph) case example:
In the past 18-months, a community development organization requested assistance with wage issues applicable to partnering with another nonprofit; with the review of a contract for use of the organization’s space for events, and a contract between the organization and artists regarding use of studio space. The organization also requested counsel regarding best practices for staff or volunteers who are providing services to children, e.g., concerning background checks, supervision, etc; counsel regarding job training programs and implications for unemployment claims; and assistance with issues relative to an upcoming government audit. Each of these requests was handled as a separate matter and placed with a range of different volunteers who expressed interest.