A lawyer specializing in non-profit organization law has expertise in incorporation, maintenance, and tax filing requirements for a non-profit organization. Much like a corporate lawyer who specializes in corporate formation and maintenance, an attorney for the non-profit sector has specific knowledge that is tailored to non-profit entities.
A non-profit organization must ensure proper compliance of the rules and laws to maintain its status as a tax-exempt organization. Failure to do so can lead to the organization losing status as a tax-exempt organization and become liable for fees and penalties.
There are many different types of non-profits. An attorney that specializes in this field can provide advice on the appropriate entity for the organization’s needs and goals. A charitable organization has different tax and legal obligations from a religious, political, or private philanthropic foundation.
A lawyer can prepare and file the appropriate forms with the government and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to form the entity and take advantage of its tax-exempt status. A lawyer can also draft bylaws and amendments of the organization. Furthermore, a non-profit organization may also wish to file for trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property. An attorney can evaluate the organization’s intellectual property rights and advice on such issues.
An attorney can negotiate contracts with vendors, employees, and third parties. Additionally, an attorney can counsel the organization on liability issues so that litigation may be avoided or minimized.
Lawyers can also provide advice on management and maintenance of the organization. The organization will need to form a board of directors and appoint officers. Attorneys can advise board members, executives, and employees on compliance with various regulations to ensure that the organization’s status is maintained.
When choosing an attorney, choose one who is not already on the board. It may seem easy to consult with an attorney who is on the board of the organization, but this attorney will have a conflict of interest. As a board member and counsel to the organization, an attorney from the board cannot represent the organization in litigation and may even be called as a witness.
The best way to identify an attorney for consultation may be a referral from another organization that benefitted from their services, which is a tried and tested way to retain counsel. Other means of finding an attorney are through referral services organized by the local state bar association or through online portals. Having a non-profit attorney prepare the legal documents and advise on the appropriate tax-exempt entity for the organization should provide piece of mind, prevent common pitfalls, and set up the organization on a course for successful operations so that it achieves its goals.
MacMain Leinhauser understands that non-profit organizations have unique needs. Our attorneys provide specialized knowledge for counseling such organizations. For an initial consultation, please contact us online or call us at 484-318-7106. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Philadelphia and Chester County.