Choosing the Best Lawyer in a Nonprofit Law Firm

  • 4 months   ago

Both nonprofit and business lawyers handle many issues, but they don’t focus on the same issues. A nonprofit lawyer focuses on the special issues that can affect nonprofit organizations. However, finding a lawyer with nonprofit experience isn’t easy. A nonprofit law firm provides so many benefits, but this type of practice is relatively new. Many people are still not buying the idea of choosing a nonprofit lawyer.

Because of this, we have come up with five tips that will help you choose a nonprofit lawyer to help you with any legal problems that might occur.

How to Choose the Best Lawyer in a Nonprofit Law Firm

1. A little bit of research. Finding a lawyer who has nonprofit experience can be difficult. The first and quickest way to find one is asking nonprofit executives who their lawyers are, and how they found them. When you’re asking around, don’t forget to check if any of the local firms perform pro bono work for nonprofits.

You can also look them up on the phone book and check the Yellow Pages. If you’re unable to find one, you can search for them online instead. Make sure to scan for lawyers who work with nonprofits and charities. Once you have found a couple of firms or lawyers that work in the nonprofit law, try to ask around. Ask if your network has worked with those lawyers, and what their experience was while working together. This can help you decide which one’s the best option.

2. Find someone who isn’t on your board. A lot of nonprofits ask lawyers to be on their board of directors because of their experience and expertise as a lawyer. However, you shouldn’t do this, especially if you want to find a lawyer that will help your organization.

A lawyer who is on your board has the experience and legal background to help with advising the board decisions. However, you shouldn’t expect him or her to defend you in court or to perform legal endeavors. If the lawyer is on the board of directors, then it can create a conflict of interest. In case of a lawsuit, he or she may end up suffering legal ramifications and lose clients.

Therefore, before asking a lawyer to serve on your board, make sure to explain what your expectations are. Doing so will let them know what their ethical and legal obligations are.

3. Check referral sources. Doing a little bit of research can help you find the best lawyer in a nonprofit law firm. You may use the following services to jumpstart your search:

Bar Associations – Start searching at the national level or state level by visiting the American Bar Association’s website. However, you may only be able to search their directory, depending on which state you’re in.

ARS or Attorney Referral Service – This service helps you find the names of lawyers who chose to be listed under charity or nonprofit. Keep in mind that you should only use an ARS if it is operated by your local bar association. Avoid using an ARS from an independent group of lawyers.

Law schools – Checking with the local law school can help you find out if they have a program or a clinic that can assist you with any legal problem.

Google search – Researching has never been this easy, thanks to Google. You can find various websites that provide a list of lawyers under categories like environmental law or nonprofit. As long as you know how to filter the search results, then you should be able to use the websites properly, to find the best lawyer.

Nonprofit associations – Lawyers have associations, and just like them, so do nonprofit organizations. You can consult with the regional or local chapter to find out if they have a lawyer referral services.

A directory of lawyers – You can also access a directory of millions of lawyers, such as Martindale-Hubbell. This directory includes ratings based on the lawyers’ expertise, experience, and integrity.

4. Meet with potential lawyers. A lot of lawyers will give you a free consultation, so make sure you take advantage of that. When you go, bring your friend with you, or someone who can give you another opinion about the lawyer. To make this step even more effective, prepare a list of questions to ask. Make sure you know what their experience was working with nonprofits.

Ask if the lawyer needs a retainer, and what type of services the nonprofit law firm offers. Ask about the possible fees, too, and if the firm offers a lower rate for nonprofit organizations.

To help you, below are some of the questions you can ask your potential lawyer:

Have you handled this type of case?

Have you been accused of or sanctioned for attorney misconduct?

What are the possible outcomes in my case?

What strategies do you suggest?

How long will this (case) take?

How will we communicate?

What do I need to do in the case preparation?

Who will do the work?

5. Schedule a performance review. Once you have taken care of the initial paperwork, make sure to keep in touch with your lawyer, and review his or her performance annually. Doing so will help you ensure that he or she is meeting your needs.

If the lawyer is unable to meet your needs, then don’t be afraid to find a new lawyer. Working with your lawyer should both benefit you and the lawyer. If you’re not getting the treatment you deserve, then look for a lawyer who will.

Legal problems can happen anytime, so make sure to ask the lawyer about any other issues that may arise, whether it’s about conflict of interest issues, IRS rules and regulations, recordkeeping, or dealing with the removal of leadership. You’ll probably come up with more questions later, so when these questions arise, don’t hesitate to ask your lawyer. This is exactly the reason why you need a lawyer in a nonprofit law firm.