Pro Bono Partnership
About Pro Bono Partnership
Volunteer Lawyers Strengthening Nonprofits And Our Communities
Pro Bono Partnership provides business and transactional legal services to nonprofit organizations serving the disadvantaged or enhancing the quality of life in neighborhoods in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. Substantially leveraging the impact of its in-house legal staff, the Partnership annually recruits and mobilizes hundreds of attorneys from major corporations and law firms to donate their time and expertise on behalf of its nonprofit clients, enhancing their ability to improve conditions in their communities.
To be eligible for free transactional legal services, an organization must be:
- A nonprofit organization, or one seeking 501(c)(3) status, serving the disadvantaged or enhancing the quality of life through important social, civic, arts, educational, or environmental programs or services
- Seeking transactional (i.e. non-litigation) legal assistance, and unable to pay for legal services without significantly impacting resources for programs
- Governed by a board that has a sufficient number of independent directors or trustees, or is willing to work towards those standards
- Located in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York (excluding New York City), and other areas on a case-by-case basis, and primarily serving the communities within these three states.
Other considerations include: the organization’s impact and beneficiaries, financial profile and sustainability, the nature of the legal request and the likelihood we can identify an attorney to assist, as well as the organization’s ability to be responsive to and work with the Partnership and our volunteer attorneys. For a start-up organization, the quality and thoughtfulness of its business plan is also a consideration.
Please note that the Partnership does not assist individuals or for-profit organizations. Also note that the Partnership does not have the legal expertise necessary to advise houses of worship, religious corporations, or religious schools. If your organization offers a program or service to people of all faiths, the nonprofit may qualify for Partnership services.
For existing nonprofits that qualify for our services, we charge a non-refundable administrative fee of $295 for nonprofits with an annual budget under $100,000, and $495 for nonprofits with an annual budget of $100,000 or more. For past clients (those who have not received assistance from us within the past two years) that continue to qualify for our services, there is a non-refundable administrative fee of $295.
Pro Bono Partnership can assist new groups with incorporation and/or obtaining tax-exempt status, and charges a non-refundable administrative fee of $595 to organizations that qualify for our services. The organizations should also be prepared to pay filing fees at the state and federal level. Please visit our Emerging Nonprofits page if you would like assistance with formation.
Applying for Tax Exemption
- Evaluate if your organization is ready for tax exemption
- Understand the pros and cons of forming a tax-exempt organization
Corporate Law and Governance
- Form legal, tax-exempt entities
- Understand the roles, responsibilities, and proper activities of a nonprofit board
- Evaluate potential liabilities of board of directors
- Operate within the law and its own bylaws
- Draft or revise bylaws or articles of incorporation
- File the necessary charitable registration, state and federal reports
Nonprofit Mergers and Consolidations
- Create and structure affiliate relationships
- Merge or enter into joint ventures
- Understand collaborations
Contracts and Leases
- Negotiate contracts with service providers, other nonprofits, or lessors
- Register and protect trademarks
- Copyright educational materials
- Obtain releases or licenses
- Acquire or sell real estate
- Review or negotiate commercial or office lease
- Negotiate financing agreements with lenders
- Prepare or update personnel manuals and policies
- Understand ADA, FMLA, HIPAA, Title VII and other federal regulations
- Review or prepare employment contracts
- Understand laws on hiring, background checks, references, performance reviews, discipline, and terminations
- Properly classify paid and volunteer staff; employees as exempt or non-exempt; workers as independent contractors or employees
- Do we have a harassment policy that covers sexual, religious, racial and other forms of harassment?
- When and how do we investigate a claim of harassment?
- What harassment training should paid and volunteer staff receive?
Insurance and Risk Management
- Understand risks your organization may face
- Implement protections to address these risks
- Get appropriate insurance protection, such as Directors & Officers liability insurance
- Review laws that apply (or don’t apply) to volunteers
- Screen potential volunteers?
- Understand when, and how, a nonprofit organization can be held liable for the negligent acts of its volunteers
- Understand the federal Volunteer Protection Act and what protections it affords for nonprofit agency volunteers (including volunteer board members)
Nonprofit Child Care Centers
- Comply with state and federal laws
- Make sure policies and procedures up to date and adequate to protect the center and employees
Fundraising and Revenue Generating Activities
- Comply with fundraising laws and regulations
- Properly register your organization to conduct fundraising
- Appropriately report the donations to the IRS
- Provide proper acknowledgements to donors
- Understand what political activities are prohibited
- Understand the rules about lobbying and advocacy activities
Privacy, Confidentiality and Liability
- Disclose or prohibit from disclosing confidential client information
- Respond to subpoenas and requests for records
- Comply with HIPAA regulations
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