Dickinson's Des Moines, Iowa-based attorneys have a long and rich history working in nonprofit law, providing nonprofit representation to a number of organizations. These clients include trade associations which are exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code as well as organizations which have been recognized as exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
We have firsthand knowledge of the issues relating to nonprofit law. We are familiar with the manner in which nonprofit organizations are governed and operate. Dickinson attorneys understand the importance of building consensus among members and volunteers and melding sometimes conflicting views of members on various issues; providing volunteer boards of directors with adequate and informed guidance on legal issues of critical importance to governing the organization; providing day-to-day legal advice to staff members on the business of the organization; and responding appropriately to members of the organization as requested by the governing body or the executives of the organization. We know that the legal needs of non-profit bodies are unique, and the attorneys who serve as counsel to them, their governing bodies and their executives must be well versed in the specific laws that govern their conduct as well as other legal disciplines, such as contracts, torts, antitrust law, real estate law, employment law, and governmental administrative and regulatory law.
Our firm encourages its lawyers to become involved in volunteer activities in the communities in which they live and work, and almost all of the lawyers in our firm currently serve or have served on various nonprofit, volunteer boards and committees of their own choosing. Dickinson attorneys have served on the boards of directors for such varied entities as the Blank Children’s Hospital; Oakridge Neighborhood; United Way of Central Iowa; Young Women’s Resource Center; Food Bank of Iowa; various churches and other religiously affiliated entities; Drake University Board of Counselors; Civic Center of Greater Des Moines; and other fraternal, social, or law related boards. As a result of our volunteerism, we are able to blend our experience as board members with our legal knowledge and experience in representing corporate entities to provide practical legal advice that reflects an understanding of the realities of the corporate boardroom and the day-to-day activities of the entity.
We take pride in the fact that a number of nonprofit organizations bring some particularly thorny legal and practical questions to our attorneys. We take even greater pride in the fact that such matters are resolved in a manner that advances the missions and purposes for which these enterprises were formed and are maintained. In this area, as is true of the firm generally, we recognize that the focus is on helping the client achieve its particular goals, consistent with limitations that external as well as internal forces may bring to bear, in a cost-efficient manner.
While Dickinson is well versed in nonprofit representation, we’ve found that with each nonprofit case comes unique legal issues. Dickinson attorneys provide a full-range of legal services tailored to clients requiring nonprofit representation:
- Assisting in the creation of the organization, including preparation of preliminary and final applications for recognition of the tax exempt status.
- Counseling the organization’s governing body and staff (if appropriate) with respect to initial and ongoing corporate and governance issues.
- Ongoing review of articles of incorporation, bylaws, board resolutions and other governance documents, and ongoing advice with regard to and review of activities to assure compliance with both governing documents and the general requirements of the law.
- Advising with regard to and drafting licensing agreements.
- Advising and forming 501(c)(3) foundations for various types of existing enterprises, as well as advising and forming affiliated for-profit subsidiaries of not-for-profit organizations.
- Advising trade associations on government relations issues including lobbying (both in Iowa and in Washington, D.C.) and political action committees (both federal and state). This may include providing assistance with drafting of proposals for legislation as well as ongoing review of drafts of legislation for potential impact and proposals for rule-making (both those found in the Federal Register and the Iowa Administrative Bulletin).
- Negotiating and drafting various types of contracts with vendors and providers of services.