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Obligations and Ethical Considerations for Attorneys Serving on Nonprofit Boards

 

Understand the difference between being a board member and being an attorney rendering legal advice to a nonprofit organization.

Lawyers often serve as board members for nonprofit corporations. In some instances, they are sought out by organizations seeking their input in the form of volunteer professional advice, as a means for the nonprofit to reduce administrative expenses and focus funds on programmatic goals. In other cases, the motivation is from the attorney desiring to give back to his or her community, particularly for transactional attorneys who may eagerly choose nonprofit board involvement rather than pro bono court appearances. Despite the best of intentions, in the absence of clear expectations, at times these arrangements may do a disservice to both the organization and the attorney. Nonprofits certainly can benefit from the sound advice and counseling of board members with legal training. This topic will assist attorney board members in understanding their role on the board, including the balance between fiduciary obligations as a board member and professional obligations if representing the organization.

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Obligations and Ethical Considerations for Attorneys Serving on Nonprofit Boards

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Obligations and Ethical Considerations for Attorneys Serving on Nonprofit Boards

Faculty

Brett R. Harris, Esq.

Brett R. Harris, Esq.

Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A.

  • Business, nonprofit and technology attorney, shareholder in the Woodbridge, New Jersey office of Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A.
  • Has a corporate transactional practice, focusing on counseling charities and foundations on their exempt status, governance and compliance, and also handles intellectual property and cybersecurity matters
  • Member of the Legal Working Group for the Center for Nonprofits, an umbrella organization for New Jersey 501(c)(3)s providing advocacy, resources, training and information to strengthen nonprofits and help them thrive
  • Appointed in March of 2020 by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a trustee of The IOLTA Fund of the Bar of New Jersey
  • Serves as general counsel to the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association, immediate past chair of the Business Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, a trustee of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Women in the Profession Section, and a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Bylaws and Resolutions Standing Committee
  • Named as one of the Top 25 Leading Women by Leading Women Entrepreneurs & Business Owners in 2019 and one of NJBIZ Magazine’s Best 50 Women in Business in 2012
  • Member of the Nonprofit Forum Steering Committee of Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey
  • Can be contacted at 732-855-6122 and [email protected], or follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter @BrettHarrisEsq for posts on business and nonprofit matters, technology law and issues of interest to professional women
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Obligations and Ethical Considerations for Attorneys Serving on Nonprofit Boards

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