Nonprofit organizations often bypass much-needed legal services because they're operating on a limited budget. But it's often cheaper to avoid problems than to fix them. Plus, with many options available for obtaining legal services, your charitable organization should be able to get needed legal advice without spending huge sums.
Here are some questions and answers about when and how to bring in an attorney for help.
The total cost will depend on the services you need as well as the lawyer's fee structure. Most lawyers charge in one of these ways:
You can likely begin your relationship with the attorney with a free consultation, by phone, in person, or through a service like Skype. This could last as little as 15 to 30 minutes. A paid consultation might last an hour or more, and you'll get more in-depth information.
Your nonprofit would doubtless rather spend its limited funds on its cause rather than on legal advice. However, many lawyers won’t agree to this type of arrangement. After all, you want a lawyer who specializes in nonprofits; but if none pay, how is the lawyer going to earn a living?
Alternatives are available, which will allow your nonprofit to gain valuable legal services without breaking the bank. Ask about:
It may be frustrating that a lawyer won’t represent your nonprofit for free, but keep in mind the amount of time a lawyer will be spending on your legal issue, and that the lawyer is also running a business.
While many tools are available to help form a nonprofit without a lawyer, every nonprofit is unique. It's all too easy to go astray, for example by: