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Wesley Larkin, left, Kathy Hartland, Howard Caplan, Steffani Fletcher and Keith Broll at the annual Nonprofit Organizations Legal Services Forum.
Jax Daily Record Monday, Oct. 31, 201612:00 PM EST

Pro bono spotlight: Six years of helping nonprofits change lives

by: Kathy Para

Many attribute this quote to Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

It is clear the representatives of the participating organizations in this year’s Nonprofit Organizations Legal Services Forum understand and believe those words.

Within their own missions and goals, they have set out to change the worlds of their clients.

On Oct. 27, during Celebrate Pro Bono week, the Business Law Section of The Florida Bar held its sixth annual Nonprofit Organizations Legal Services Forum.

Florida Coastal School of Law provided the venue for the event with the coordination of professor Karen Millard.

Representatives of 11 nonprofits registered to participate in this year’s legal consultation opportunity.

Nonprofits serve the community with a range of services, including youth development, rehabilitating ex-offenders, developing poetry and art resources for at-risk children, promoting literacy and ending poverty and homelessness.

Their legal concerns included land ownership disputes, real estate acquisitions, corporate filings, copyright questions and others.

Each organization received a one-hour consultation with an attorney who has relevant expertise.

At their request, the organizations also received a “legal checkup” — a guide for evaluating whether the nonprofit has developed a sound corporate structure.

The attorney and organization’s representative discussed a checklist describing guidelines for state corporate requirements, IRS requirements, recordkeeping and disclosure, insurance, intellectual property and financial practices.

Law students Shea Peterson, Hana Eldick, Chris Brady, Juan Somoza and Wesley Larkin provided administrative support.

Recruited by John Macdonald, six attorneys provided guidance to nonprofit representatives: Mark Kloeppel, Brittney Trigg, Kathy Hartland, Amy Leitch, Howard Caplan and Edward Sarnowski.

Some of the organizations will receive follow-up or off-site services from the attorneys or Hartland and students of Florida Coastal’s Business and Entrepreneurial Clinic.

The forum provides area organizations with guidance that enables them to overcome barriers and maintain sound business practices as they serve our community.

The organizations are filling needs and solving problems that reach far beyond the capability of government resources alone.

Pro bono legal guidance works because it eliminates the expenses associated with legal fees and enables those in service to our community to do what they do best.

Attorneys who would like to know more about volunteer opportunities in the 4th Judicial Circuit are encouraged to contact [email protected].

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