|Exempt Organization Law Firms
Adler & Colvin, in San Francisco, is one of the premier law firms in the country serving nonprofits on
matters of tax and corporate law. I worked for the firm for eight years and learned much of what I
know about tax and corporate law (I was already steeped in nonprofit finance). The firm offers
decades of experience, phenomenal depth of bench, and a commitment to doing the highest quality
work possible. They have virtually invented certain areas of law, and are nationally prominent in
political tax law, fiscal sponsorship, foreign grantmaking, estate planning where charitable giving is a
substantial part of the objective, certain quasi-commercial "social -venture" combinations, and other
fields no doubt.
Following in the footprints of Tom Silk's approach, the firm is also known for its scholarship and
teaching. Last I knew, the improving but still under-developed website contains a few particularly
valuable PDF downloads, including Greg Colvin's article on Fiscal Sponsorship, and some examples
(search on "exemplars") of model fiscal sponsorship agreements.
|EVANS & ROSEN
Evans & Rosen, LLP is a firm of two principals who are former colleagues of mine from when I
worked at Silk, Adler & Colvin and have come to be good friends and tremendously supportive to me i
moments of self-doubt. Visit their website "from ideas to action" to see how they describe deep
qualifications, a flexible work style and many years of combined experience. Cherie Evans has a law
degree as well as a Masters in Tax, and Barbara Rosen is a CPA and was a senior tax a manager in
a prominent regional CPA firm before going in to the practice of law. Besides the academic degrees,
Cherie brings an international outlook and experience, deeply embedded political an adjunct
professor at U.C. Hastings College of Law, brings deep, broad experience with corporate and family
private foundations. Her dual experience helps her cut through the fog when a client's CPA and tax
counsel have different positions on some issue. Every time I talk to them they're off to some
conference or Bar Committee meeting and so my sense is that they're carrying on that same
scholarship torch. In addition, Greg Siegler, of Seattle, is "of counsel" which to lawyers means not a
principal but not a junior. Greg brings depth in nonprofit formations, fiscal sponsorship and public
policy advocacy as well as religious organizations.
Alice Anderson, a specialized solo-practitioner, is another former colleague of mine from Silk, Adler &
Colvin. Alice has a background including high-stakes litigation and health law. Most of these
specialists aren't litigation minded; Alice isn't set up to handle litigation per se, but is feisty and could
JetBlue of law firms, trying to keep her rates and overhead down. Alice shares with me the
experience of having spent part of her youth in Alaska, and has environmentalism in her blood as a
passion. She's keenly interested in fundraising law and in Internet-related issues on which she is
published in journals. As of this writing she is still working on her website, so she can be reached at
|www.attorneyfornonprofits.com, also www.nonprofitlawblog.com
Gene Takagi is a solo-practitioner also specialized on the needs of our sector. He and Cherie Evans
and Barbara Rosen and I did a seminar in San Jose June 2006. In a more advanced fashion than I
have managed here, he also writes and web-publishes www.nonprofitlawblog.com to comment on
care for the sector. It's a great resource! Gene brings a kind of precision and curiosity to his work
that, since I remember him from before he was a lawyer drive me nuts when he'll teach me some
obscurity in an area I thought I'd mastered and, well, let's just say I no longer think "he can't be right"
and look it up - he's always right. :)
Cynthia Cumfer is co-author of the Oregon Nonprofit Corporation Handbook listed on the Information
Resources page under publications, and a legal scholar and practitioner who brings years of
experience working with, forming, and advising nonprofit corporations of all stripes, particularly in
McVEIGH LAW OFFICE
Minneapolis / St. Paul
With a name like BAM Law Office, what's not to like? Seriously, Eve Borenstein of Borenstein and
McVeigh Law Office, LLP, is an admired friend and colleague of 20 years' duration (and a fireball!)
who brings an accounting background to her legal work, so unlike some advice that can seem a bit
"ivory tower" to those of us struggling with the chart of accounts, you can count on Eve's advice to
relate to real world issues. Eve's expertise is wide-ranging, but particularly focused on issues
special to public policy advocacy (lobbying and political law). She practices nationally, and she
devotes so much time to playing a leadership role in both the Bar Association, and the AICPA, and
moving and shaking with IRS staff that it's hard to know how she earns a living. Or maybe she's law
practice. She might be the most wired-into-IRS developments professional I know. Her partner Ellen
McVeigh brings a nonprofit orientation and complementary areas of expertise including the second
most-needed set of expertise for the groups I work with: employment and contract law. These two
prove that not all the experts (or lefties) are on one of the coasts!
Gail Harmon leads this firm of EO Attorneys in D.C. dedicated to the sector and its work, with a deep
bench in public policy advocacy. Gail was the first EO lawyer I met who felt like a comrade rather than
a hired gun, and now John Pomeranz, who comes out of Alliance for Justice, is now a partner at this
firm. I've seen John sing all of 501(h) in five minutes to a Gilbert and Sullivan score! An interesting
aspect of this firm is that besides - dare I say - continuing to be the only 'comrades' in D.C. that I've
met, they bravely practice both election and tax law. In my experience, public policy advocacy
organizations can spend oodles of money trying to reconcile and balance the advice of both types of
lawyers if they need both types. For anyone using this website who needs both tax help and federal
election law help, I'd recommend this firm without hesitation.
Lichtman Trister, like the firms above, has a strong reputation and a commitment to the progressive
public policy advocacy part of the sector. I add them here particularly because Holly Schadler is part
of the firm.
|Exempt Organization Law Firms
|SILK NONPROFIT LAW
|www.silknonprofitlaw.net (under construction)
works and good money) serving it. Until then nonprofit work was handled by small boutique units at
large firms or on the side as not-too-serious "pro bono" work by large general purpose law (this is
about the same time as the practice of law began to really specialize in other ways too). In early
2007, Tom began to practice solo, and his old firm, below, changed its name accordingly).
In addition to having darn near founded the field, Tom also did fascinating work on international law -
see Philanthropy and Law in Asia Thomas Silk, Editor Jossey-Bass, Publishers, 1999 ISBN
0-7879-4510-2. Tom also did work in Eastern Europe as the countries became independent and
tried to figure out what to do about building a civil sector of their own. These international projects
came about because of his broad mind and scholarship.
He continues to engage in California - were it not for Tom's work, the California Nonprofit Integrity Act
might have called for audits down to $1M or $500K rather than $2M; I believe he has also been
serving on the board of CompassPoint for some time now.
As an attorney, while Tom is senior and therefore expensive, he thinks creatively, challenges himself
to start with original source documents to look for new insight (perhaps reflective of having been a
builder in the field), so he occasionally hatches startling new strategies. He is also ideal for
situations where a senior attorney with gravitas can be useful in pulling a board together in keeping
with modern governance demands.
He also struggles as much as any 'EO attorney' I know with how professional rates are out of reach
for many community-based nonprofits thereby also separating practitioners from the meaningful work
that got them excited in the first place. I checked Tom's domain (above) and it is not yet live, and I
can't believe the cheekiness of Network Solutions (who I fired years ago) in running ads for other
sorts of nonprofit formation services on his "under construction" page. Tom can be reached by email
directly here. (I dare not spell it out or the spamcrawler spiders will get it).