I enjoy working with attorneys at my nonprofit
Being an Operations Manager I have come to appreciate working with attorneys in general.
I personally have benefited greatly from my lawyers' advice and council which has potentially prevented organizations I work for from expensive law suits or having to pay unnecessary fees if I tried to do certain legal things myself. Ultimately, I feel that I am saving my organization money by working with attorneys in general.
I found my first lawyer, Linda Gulledge www.workinglaw.com (an employment law attorney) through the San Francisco Bar Association's www.sfbar.org Volunteer Legal Services Program. Linda helped my organization on a volunteer basis revise our personnel manual and keep it up to date with California employment law. I learned so much through this process, that I decided to retain Linda on a monthly basis to provide advice to my organization on employment related issues or situations. She is so helpful, especially in stressful situations when I am trying to deal with disgruntled employees!
I also retain Gene Tagaki www.attorneyfornonprofits.com He helps my organization with many legal issues. For example, Aspiration recently relocated from Massachusetts to California and he helped us to legally do business in the state. He is affordable and has a great blog about nonprofit specific legal issues! www.nonprofitlawblog.com
The third attorney I work with is Kate Neiswender, who is a Commercial Real Estate attorney. Kate helped Aspiration by reviewing our new office lease before we signed it. Signing a lease is a big commitment, especially a long-term lease. I'll be the first to admit that leases have a lot of legal jargon in them that I don't understand. I don't feel comfortable stepping into a lease situation without making sure that the lease is in favor of me-the tenant. The best advice I received is that "standard leases" are not always "standard" and in many cases include clauses that are not in favor of the tenant, for example a clause that states that the tenant has to do all the maintenance for the facility. Doing your own maintenance could get really expensive.
You may or may not choose to hire an attorney for your nonprofit, however if your organization works with low-income folks you may eligible for the volunteer legal services program through your local bar association. Also, just as an FYI Lawyer fees for nonprofits range from $150-$400 an hour.