Nonprofit CEOs Need Lawyers & Legal Help is Christopher Haymon’s take on an often neglected resource charitable organizations need to accomplish there important mission. Here’s what Christopher has to say:
As a Nonprofit CEO, odds are you’ll need a lawyer’s help at some point in your missional venture. The thought of hiring an attorney can be daunting, as these professionals are notoriously expensive. Don’t stress. Knowing what type of lawyer you may need and what to look for in an attorney can help simplify the process and save money. Read on for some quick tips from the National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives (NANOE).
Determine what type of legal services you need.
Lawyers aren’t just professionals you call when you’re facing a lawsuit. An attorney can help with a variety of small business legal issues. The Corporate Finance Institute provides a list of some common small business legal needs. Lawyers can prove helpful when hiring employees, attaining professional licenses, or selecting a business structure, for example.
The U.S. legal field is vast, and there are many types of experts to address many different needs. Most legal professionals specialize in a certain area, giving them the in-depth knowledge and practical experience needed to offer top-quality legal counsel. Some specialty areas include tax law, bankruptcy law, and employment and labor law.
The type of professional you need will depend on the circumstances. For instance, say the IRS wants to audit your business—a tax lawyer is ideal, notes Bankrate. Alternatively, say you’re facing a product liability claim—there are specialists for this as well. Other possible issues range from employee confidentiality to disputes with suppliers.
Know what to look for in a qualified lawyer.
Knowing what type of attorney you need is only half the battle. You also have to know how to choose the right lawyer. First, consider basic credentials. The attorney should be accredited by the relevant state bar, meaning they are licensed to practice in that state. You can check the American Bar Association’s online database to make sure this is the case.
Beyond basic credentials, Dumb Little Man points out that other factors to consider when selecting an attorney include availability, proximity, experience, and expertise. Cost is another factor. There’s no point trying to hire an attorney you can’t afford. Note that billing and fee structures vary between attorneys, so read the fine print in any contract before hiring a professional.
Finally, don’t discount that “gut instinct” when hiring a lawyer. Your attorney will be privy to details of your business life and you want to be confident that you can trust them. Take the time to have a chat with your lawyer before you hire them. Even if you don’t meet in person, a quick video conference can be a great way to get a feel for the individual’s personality.
Look for ways to leverage legal relationships and keep costs low.
As a charity, you may not have the big budget for legal fees that a major corporation has. It’s thus in your best interests to keep attorney’s expenses to a minimum. You can help cut costs by drafting legal documents yourself using free online templates and then simply having a lawyer review them to ensure accuracy.
Take vendor contracts, for example. This is the kind of document you will need repeatedly. You don’t want to have a lawyer draft a brand new contract every time. ZenBusiness explains the basics of drafting customer contracts. You can create one template to use and then adjust the details like the client name, monetary sum, and date.
Another way to save on legal costs — again, using hiring a lawyer to write contracts for you — is to send contracts on your own rather than pay a lawyer to do so. If you have a file that’s too large to share via email, you can use Adobe’s Acrobat PDF compression tool to compress a PDF file online, minimizing your file size while retaining formatting, images and layout. Simply drag and drop your PDF for speedy compression in just a few minutes.
Professional legal services aren’t just for big businesses. The above guide explains how nonprofits can find and use lawyers at affordable rates.
The National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives (NANOE) is the premier nationwide network of donors, volunteers and charitable leaders whose relentless commitment to sustainable impact transforms the communities we serve. Reach out to us for more info! (800) 257-6670
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