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Law students Samantha Szwed, Sharlz Webb, Byron Pendergraft, Marissa Constant and David Brown assisted at the Nonprofit Organizations Legal Services Forum.
Jax Daily Record Monday, Nov. 9, 201512:00 PM EST

Pro bono spotlight: Transactional attorneys assist nonprofits

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by: Kathy Para

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

On Oct. 27 during Celebrate Pro Bono week, the Business Law Section of The Florida Bar held its fifth 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 18 organizations registered for this year’s legal consultation opportunity, making it the most successful to date.

It is clear that representatives of the organizations understand and believe the words of Margaret Mead. Within their own missions and goals, they have set out to change the worlds of their own clients.

These nonprofits serve our community with a wide range of services, including youth development, counseling and support services for children and families with leukemia diagnoses, rehabilitating ex-offenders, development of visual arts resources for children, animal health and protection and ending poverty and homelessness.

Their legal concerns included, but were not limited to, land ownership disputes, real estate acquisitions, corporate filings, copyright questions and employment matters.

Each organization received a one-hour consultation with an attorney with the relevant expertise. At its request, the organization also received a “legal check-up.” The check-up provides a guide for evaluating whether the organization has developed a sound corporate structure. The attorney and organization representative discussed a checklist describing guidelines for state corporate requirements, IRS requirements, record-keeping and disclosure, insurance, intellectual property and financial practices.

Law students of the Business Law Society, coordinated by David Brown and Marissa Constant, assisted by providing administrative support and hospitality. Those students were David Brown, Marissa Constant, Samantha Szwed, Jessica Livingston, Sharlz Webb, Byron Pendergraft and Chris Robinson.

Recruited by John Macdonald, these 14 local attorneys provided guidance to nonprofit representatives: Mark Kloeppel, Jim Nolan, Neda Sharifi, Jacqueline Rudloff, Brittney Trigg, Ray Mantle, Matthew Kassel, Doug Milne, Kathy Hartland, Hamilton Traylor, Charlee Miska, Amy Leitch, Howard Caplan and Jeanne Helton.

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

The Nonprofit Organizations Legal Services Forum provides area organizations with guidance that enables them to overcome barriers and maintain sound business practices as they serve our community.

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

Pro bono legal guidance works. It eliminates the expenses associated with legal fees and enables those in service to our community to do what they do best. Pro bono legal guidance provides stability and hope to so many.

Attorneys who would like to know more about pro bono opportunities throughout the 4th Judicial Circuit are encouraged to contact Para at [email protected].

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