Orlando Non-Profit Attorneys & Lawyers
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T. Matthew Ladyman
Orlando Non-Profit Lawyers
Legal Tips and Information
Tips for Hiring a Non-Profit Attorney
Hiring an attorney who is skilled and experienced in handling non-profit legal work can be a rather overwhelming task for many organizations. Non-profit budgets must be prepared, assessed, and spent carefully, and attorneys’ fees (whether said attorney is non-profit oriented or specialized in some other area) can quickly spiral out of control if your organization lacks the knowhow required to favorably navigate the attorney-client relationship.
Here are some key considerations to keep in mind as you search for a non-profit attorney in Orlando.
Prepare for Initial Consultation
Don’t go into your initial consultation with an attorney unprepared. Of course, it’s not necessary that you have every possible question ready, but it’s worth making an effort to reflect on your legal concerns before your consultation. Preparation can save time during consultation by minimizing the information-gathering phase.
Putting in pre-consultation effort reflects well on your organization and will generally have a positive effect on the attorney-client relationship. The best non-profit attorneys prefer to work with engaged organizations.
If you simply do not have time to prepare, it’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world either. A skilled non-profit lawyer is more than capable of guiding the consultation to extract the information they need without prompting.
Ensure that the Attorney is Compatible with Organizational Process
If you’re going to have a successful working relationship with your non-profit attorney, it’s important that you choose an attorney who is compatible with your organization’s process.
What does that mean, exactly?
If your organization handles important tasks and communication via email, then the attorney you choose should be comfortable integrating this process into their own. Similarly, if your organization generally requires prompt responses to inquiries (it may be necessary to the decision-making chain), then you do not want to work with an attorney who will take several days, or even a week or more, to respond to your inquiries and concerns.
Attorney compatibility is critical – don’t underestimate it. A highly-experienced attorney who does not respond to your concerns on time may be a worse fit for your organization than a less-experienced attorney who responds promptly and respectfully.
Avoid Giving Away a Board Position to your Attorney
Though it may seem beneficial to give a board position away to your non-profit attorney (especially if you have built a trusting, successful working relationship with said attorney), it’s often a bad idea. Giving a board position to your attorney introduces a slew of conflict-of-interest issues that have to be tiptoed around carefully.
Try to Find an Attorney Capable of Handling Diverse Legal Issues
Your non-profit organization will likely have to deal with a variety of legal issues as time goes on. As such, it’s helpful to work with an attorney who is experienced handling diverse legal issues. Your non-profit attorney should be able to – at the very least – draft registration and contract documents, advise on the legality of a particular strategy, and provide insight on other relevant legal issues typical of non-profit organizations.
Benefits of a Specialized Non-Profit Attorney vs. a Generalist
As you look for an Orlando non-profit lawyer on the UpCounsel platform, you’re likely to notice that there are quite a few highly-qualified generalist attorneys in the region – generalist in the sense that they have not specialized in providing non-profit legal services, but they may have some limited prior experience working with non-profit organizations.
Bearing in mind that attorney skill varies substantially (and as such, experience or specialty cannot be used for a blanket assessment of quality), what are the likely benefits of hiring an attorney that specializes in providing legal services to non-profit organizations?
Familiarity with Non-Profit Issues
Specialized non-profit attorneys are highly familiar with the legal issues commonly faced by non-profit organizations – from tax and registration, to employment law, to fundraising issues, and more. Many of these issues are quite unique to non-profit organizations (or are uniquely applied), and as such, hiring an attorney who is specialized in such issues is likely to give you an upper-hand.
Do keep in mind that although specialized attorneys tend to charge a higher per hour rate (though not always!), it can end up costing less in the long run, as a specialized attorney will likely take less time to accomplish a task relevant to their experience.
Non-Profit Clients are Given High Priority
Perhaps the most frustrating problem that non-profit clients commonly encounter is being deprioritized by their attorney. It is all too common for attorneys to prioritize certain clients and ignore others – whether because they prefer the work, the client, or for various other reasons. Though there are many fantastic, client-oriented generalist attorneys, you are more likely to be treated with respect and priority by a specialized non-profit attorney, as the attorney primarily works with organizations such as your own.
Plugged Into Non-Profit Networks
Attorneys that specialize in the provision of legal services for non-profit organizations are often plugged into local, regional, and even national non-profit networks. If you develop a positive working relationship with your attorney, you may be able to take advantage of these connections, which can be extremely useful for fundraising, organizational outreach, and more.
Common Non-Profit Legal Concerns
Non-profit organizations often require certain core legal services that are fairly predictable. As you browse the UpCounsel platform for a non-profit attorney in Orlando, make sure to choose attorneys who are capable of providing these services. If you are unsure, send a message or setup a call to assess their capabilities.
UpCounsel features a rating and review system. Do your research and read up on your non-profit attorney and check whether previous clients were satisfied with the quality of the services provided. You can also see how many repeat clients the attorney has had on the UpCounsel platform, which should give you a solid indication of value!
Though some attorneys are able to bring themselves up to speed quickly, you’re better off choosing an attorney who has some experience (they need not even be specialized in non-profit legal work) in handling the following issues.
Employment Law Concerns
Non-profit organizations encounter many of the same core employment concerns as for-profit organizations, except non-profits often have increased engagement with volunteers and interns. Non-profits also frequently work with governmental programs and scholarships to enable employees to work at the non-profit at a reduced pay rate. These employment dynamics can be quite complicated to contract around. Your attorney should be capable of advising on employment law concerns and helping your organization avoid legal violations in the employment context.
Non-Profit Registration and Maintenance
Non-profits must be registered and strictly maintained. The best non-profit attorneys will be able to guide you through the registration process from beginning to end, and will setup a process to maintain non-profit status. If your attorney is not experienced in this area, it may cause serious problems down the road. Losing non-profit status due to some minor inconsistency can scare away funding and ruin an organization.
Non-profits often work with outside organizations – other non-profits, government agencies, and for-profit corporations. These engagements quite commonly involve an exchange of significant value. As such, it’s important that your non-profit attorney is capable of drafting customized contracts with provisions that adequately represent your organizational needs. Your attorney should sit down with you and your team and explain any confusing elements of a contract, and should advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of various provisions.
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Legal Services Offered by Our On-Demand Orlando Non-Profit Attorneys
On UpCounsel, you can find and connect with top-rated Orlando non-profit attorneys & lawyers that provide a range of non-profit law services for startup non-profits to more seasoned non-profits around the city of Orlando. Any of the top-rated Orlando non-profit lawyers you connect with will be available to help with a variety of your non-profit legal needs on-demand or on an ongoing basis.
From the forming of a non-profit organization to obtaining tax-exempt status from the IRS, to complying with federal and state laws governing fundraising and operations, the advice of experienced Orlando non-profit attorney is crucial throughout each stage of your non-profit’s growth. Whether you are forming a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4), you can easily hire an experienced Orlando non-profit lawyer on UpCounsel for your on-demand or ongoing non-profit legal needs today.
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