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Law Office Management

Feb. 2, 2015

Nonprofit Law: More Regulations, More Opportunities

As nonprofits face increased regulation, organizations could use lawyers versed in the practice.

Attorneys who represent nonprofits say that the combination of evolving charity regulations and growth in the nonprofit sector is creating a need for more lawyers versed in the practice.

Gene Takagi is managing attorney with the three-person NEO Law Group in San Francisco, which focuses on nonprofits. He sees business opportunities in recent legislation: At the federal level, tax code changes include an expansion of IRS Form 990, while new state laws tighten nonprofit governance and target noncompliant charities. "The pressure to be transparent and actually show impact is a growing concern," he says.

Carol A. Bradford, senior counsel for the California Community Foundation serving Los Angeles County, agrees there is more need for nonprofit lawyers and says she sees more interest among new attorneys in working for a cause.

She suggests starting out in another practice area, such as tax law, that offers strong preparation for representing nonprofits. Though Takagi says competition is tough, he sees opportunities for sole practitioners in nonprofit law.

Lawyers in the field also see opportunities in amendments to the Corporate Flexibility Act of 2011 that took effect last month, increasing reporting and social responsibility constraints on for-profit companies that incorporate a social benefit. "A lot of the new work we're getting is [from] folks who are entrepreneurs but are also charity minded," says Robert A. Wexler, principal at Adler & Colvin, a San Francisco firm specializing in nonprofit law. "[The practice is] not growing exponentially, but it is growing."

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Kari Santos

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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