Good Counsel: Meeting the Legal Needs of Nonprofits


Good Counsel reveals:

  • What makes a nonprofit a nonprofit (hint: it has nothing to do with whether the organization makes a profit)
  • How good governance ties to mission and fundraising
  • How to protect the organization's name and monetize its original works ?
  • Potent phrases ...
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Good Counsel: Meeting the Legal Needs of Nonprofits

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Good Counsel reveals:

  • What makes a nonprofit a nonprofit (hint: it has nothing to do with whether the organization makes a profit)
  • How good governance ties to mission and fundraising
  • How to protect the organization's name and monetize its original works ?
  • Potent phrases that can turn gift pledges into enforceable contracts
  • One thing NOT to say in a hire letter or employee handbook
  • How to find a coveted law job at a nonprofit

good counsel: Meeting the Legal Needs of Nonprofits

"Triple kudos to Good Counsel, a treasure-trove for nonprofit executives, attorneys, and board members. It's everything they would want to know, embellished with real-lifestories, checklists, forms, and available resources."—Hon. Judith S. Kaye, Chief Judge Emerita, State of New York

"Lesley Rosenthal has composed a score for nonprofit leaders and their legal advisors. Lively, comprehensive, and easy to understand, Good Counsel speaks to the concerns of board members, administrators, legal practitioners, artists, and students."—Wynton Marsalis

"Good Counsel is a unique and inspiring contribution to nonprofit management. I am buying this book for my entire senior leadership team."—Erin S. Gore, Chief Financial Officer, University of California, Berkeley

"Lesley Rosenthal addresses a wide array of legal issues in a fun, easy-to-read manner, using practical checklists and work plans. Good Counsel is invaluable not only for nonprofit and pro bono legal counsel, but also for board members and executives in the nonprofit sector."—Ira M. Millstein, Senior Associate Dean for Corporate Governance, Yale School of Management

"In the fast-moving and freewheeling excitement of connecting artists and audiences, Lesley Rosenthal's savvy and sound counsel is a go-to guide for the industry. Her direct style, keen insight, and entrepreneurial sense make Good Counsel indispensable."—Nan Keeton, Director of External Affairs, San Francisco Symphony

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781118084045
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/11/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 535,599
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

LESLEY ROSENTHAL leads the legal, governance, and compliance functions of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. Since 2005 she has fashioned the legal context for the renowned arts center's world-class cultural and educational offerings, its entrepreneurial initiatives in media, fashion, and international consulting, and the $1.2 billion redevelopment of its iconic physical complex. Rosenthal has served in many roles throughout the nonprofit sector, including for the New York State Bar Association and its Foundation. For thirteen years she was in private practice as a business, litigation, and technology lawyer at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in Manhattan. Rosenthal graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. The National Organization for Women (NOW-nyc) has named her a "Woman of Power and Influence." Follow her on Twitter @GoodCounselBook.

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Table of Contents




Features of the Book

Who Should Use This Book

How This Book Is Set Up

Preliminary Observations

Illustrative Cases

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Part I: An Overview of Nonprofits' Legal Needs

Chapter 1: What Good Counsel Can Do for Nonprofits

What Legal Needs Do Nonprofits Have in Common?

Laws About Mission

Law About Fiduciary Duties

Laws About the Tax Exemption

Beyond Laws About Nonprofits: Complying with Business Laws, Too

First Stop for Legal Advice: CYA (Consult Your Attorney)

Legal Education for Non-Lawyers

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Chapter 2: Nonprofit Legal Basics: Corporate Law and the Requirements of the Tax Exemption

The Benefits of Incorporating

Getting Organized as a Nonprofit Corporation

Good Corporate Law Practices

Incorporating As A Nonprofit: What's Different?

Obtaining Recognition of Tax-Exempt Status

Legal Requirements for Maintaining Tax-Exempt Status

Additional IRS Expectations

Whistleblower Policy for Accounting Matters

Document Retention and Destruction Policy

Gift Acceptance Policy

Joint Venture Policy

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Chapter 3: Good Counsel About Corporate Governance?

The Board's Function

Board Composition

A Minute About Minutes



Setting Compensation

The Chief Executive's Responsibilities in Relation to Board and Counsel

When Governance Fails: Learning by Negative Example

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Part II: A Grand Tour of Nonprofits' Business Law Needs

Chapter 4: Business Laws That Matter to the Program Department: Contracts and Copyright Law

Understanding the Organization's “Program”

Contracts: At the Heart of the Program's Legal Arrangements

What Program Executives Need to Know About Contract Law

A Simplified Sample Contract, Dissected

Sign on the Dotted Line

The Wide Variety of Contracts

Contract Law In Sum

What is Intellectual Property (and What Does It Have to Do With Nonprofits?)

Copyright Law for Nonprofits: Basic Terms and Definitions

Taking Stock of Copyrighted Works Owned by the Organization

Unlocking the Treasure Trove: Licensing the Organization’s Copyrighted Works for Others to Use

Protecting and Enforcing the Organization's Copyright

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Chapter 5: Counseling the Rainmakers: Legal Aspects of Raising Money

A Lawyer's Introduction to Fundraising

Laws That Matter to Fundraisers

Pledge Forms

Other Places Where Legal Meets Fundraising

Better Fundraising Through Good Governance and Compliance

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Chapter 6: Laws That Matter to the Finance Department (or Not-for-Profit, but Not-for-Loss Either)

Know Your Client's Financial Context

A Year In the Life

Other Places Where Legal and Finance Meet

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Chapter 7: Getting Personnel: Human Resources Law for Nonprofits

Human Dynamics, Nonprofits, and the Law

Starting an Employment Relationship

During an Employment Relationship

Other Laws that Matter to Nonprofit Human Resources Professionals

Labor Law: Operating a Nonprofit in a Unionized Environment

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Chapter 8: Getting the Word Out, Legally: Counseling the Nonprofit Communications Team

Introduction to the Legal Aspects of Nonprofit Communications

What Nonprofit Marketing Directors Should Know About Trademark Law

Clearing Rights to Use the Protected Works of Others

Other Rights to be Cleared

In Sum: Trademark and Copyright Considerations for Communications Professionals

Consumer Regulatory Laws

Getting the Word Out, Digitally: Website Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policies, Contests, Social Media and More

Other Places Where Legal Meets Communications

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Chapter 9: Legal Meets Operations, Facilities Management, and Security

Laws That Matter to Operations

About Leases

Risk Management and the Chief Operating Officer

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Chapter 10: Political Activities and Governmental Lobbying

Thou Shalt Not Politick

Lobbying: Advocacy With Limits

Recordkeeping, Registration and Financial Disclosure

What Isn't Lobbying?

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Part III: For Good Counsel Only

Chapter 11: Taking Charge of the Legal Function

Cataloguing and Prioritizing Legal Needs

Beyond Specific Issues: Getting Organized, Keeping Connected

Maintaining a Docket of Legal Matters

Managing and Administering Contracts

Managing Litigation and Regulatory Activity

The Softer Skills of Good Counsel

Sometimes the Best Legal Review is Invisible – A Personal Example

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Chapter 12: Finding Your Dream Job as In-House Counsel at a Nonprofit

Where to Begin Searching for an In-House Job at a Nonprofit

How to Position Yourself to Win An In-House Job in a Nonprofit

Where to Locate Job Listings

Create a Legal Job Where There Is None

Take a Non-Legal Job (Which May Turn Into a Legal Job)

Translating Your Resume

Consider a Regulatory Role

Don't Believe the Myths

Parting Thoughts About Nonprofit Legal Work

In Sum/Coming Up Next

Chapter 13: Mobilizing Other Legal Forces for the Good

Hiring and Managing Outside Counsel

In Sum



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