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Nonprofit legal review

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Nonprofit legal review

  1. 1. Nonprofit Legal Review Step One Of An Effective Risk Management Program Robert J. Weil Law Office of Robert J. Weil, PLLC 4031 University Drive, Suite 100 Fairfax, Virginia 22030 (703) 934 2036 O (703) 277 7730 F (703) 399 5671 C bob@rweillaw.com
  2. 2. Why Nonprofits Need A Legal Review • Reduced third party liability exposure • Reduced risk of fraud / embezzlement • More effective and efficient management • Protection of non-profit assets • Evidence of leadership due diligence • Education of organization’s professional and volunteer (board) leadership • A more restful night’s sleep for leadership
  3. 3. Corporate Records Legally Operative Documents for Review • Articles of Incorporation (confirm status and registered agent) • Articles of Amendment • Bylaws/Constitutions • IRS Determination Letter • Administrative Policies and Procedures • Minutes • Employee Handbooks or Manuals • Governance Code of Ethics • Association policies: conflict of interest (with annual disclosure form); document retention; whistleblower, gift acceptance; antitrust compliance)
  4. 4. Affiliated Organizations •Foundations: Independent 509(a)(1) or 509(a)2) organization; •509(a)3) supporting organization – interlocking boards – receiving greater IRS scrutiny •Differences in level of control •Chapters – Individual or Group Exemption •Subject to enforceable chapter agreements or charters – impacts level of parent control • An enforceable contract addresses reporting requirements, financial matters and use of the parent’s name and IP •Separately incorporated chapters
  5. 5. Policies and Procedures Employee Handbook • Does the organization have one? • Is it followed? Is it periodically updated? • Does it confirm employment at will and avoid creating a contract of employment (Virginia)? • Nondiscrimination Policy • Sexual Harassment Policy • Employee sign off • Identification of employee benefits • Compliance with both Federal and State statutes
  6. 6. Intellectual Property Trade, service and certification marks: • PTO registration ® • TM or SM • Diary critical dates for affidavits of continued use (5-6 year) or renewal (10 years) • Copyrights – Proper notice Copyright© 2011 Association Name, Date. All Rights Reserved • Publications and website content – thorough disclaimers • Protection of membership lists
  7. 7. Insurance Directors and Officers Liability Insurance • Scope of coverage – no coverage for injuries to persons or property damage • Inclusion of affiliated entities • Essential coverage – EPL, Libel/Slander, Anti- competitive practices, infringement Errors and Omissions Coverage Commercial Property and Liability Insurance • Required as an additional layer beyond D&O to protect for personal injury and property loss Event Cancellation Coverage – Don’t overlook Certificates of Insurance - Frequently ignored
  8. 8. Lobbying Disclosures In House Lobbyist v. Outside Contract Lobbyist • Quarterly and semi-annual reporting for in-house lobbyists • Heavy fines for a knowing failure to file • Organizations employing in-house lobbyists file a single registration – Exempt from registration if total expenses for lobbying activities do not exceed $11,500 during a quarterly period • Lobbying firms are required to file a separate registration for each client – exempt from registration if total income from client not in excess of $3,000 during a quarterly period
  9. 9. Commercial Property and Equipment Leases Commercial Lease • Term of Lease • Escalation Clauses for rent, operating costs • Events of Default – What are they? • Ability to assign or sublease Subleases • Approval of form by Landlord Equipment Leases • Personal guarantees – NO!
  10. 10. Contracts Vendors • Management services, software, event planning, publishing, website development and maintenance, equipment, and marketing • Publishing and printing agreements • Professional Services: CPA’s, Attorneys, Lobbyists • Review contract term or length • Clearly define Scope of Services • Ownership of IP • Confidentiality • Insurance and Indemnification language • Independent Contractor/Consultant Agreements
  11. 11. Other Risks Client Website • Proper disclaimer of liability for content • Terms and Conditions of Use • Privacy Policy • Referral Programs • Listserv and discussion forum guidelines as part of a broader Social Media Policy Certification/Accreditation Programs • Certification vs. Certificate programs • What is accreditation? • What is licensure? • Risks of Certification • Protecting against liability exposures
  12. 12. Educating Officers and Directors • Duties and responsibilities • Due Diligence – Act in best interests of the organization • Fiduciary obligations • Conflicts of Interest and need for disclosure • Corporate Opportunity Doctrine • Corporate Waste • Audit as tool for Officer/Director education • Independence of Board – active, not caretakers • Regular self-analysis by Board •Settling policy and providing oversight
  13. 13. Summary A Legal Review Will: • Educate and protect the organization and its leadership • Identify critical risks • Lead to the development of policies and procedures for avoiding liability risks and for addressing them efficiently and effectively when the occur • Lead to the development of a plan for how the organization responds when something goes wrong
  14. 14. Robert J. Weil Law Office of Robert J. Weil, PLLC 4031 University Drive, Suite 100 Fairfax, Virginia 22030 (703) 934 2036 O (703) 277 7730 F (703) 399 5671 C bob@rweillaw.com

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