The Florida Bar Business Law Section Nonprofit Organization Pro Bono Legal Services Clinic

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  • | 12:00 p.m. September 19, 2011
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The Florida Bar Business Law Section is providing a new opportunity for nonprofit organizations and transactional lawyers in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. 

The Business Law Section Nonprofit Organization Pro Bono Legal Services Clinic will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at Florida Coastal School of Law.

“The usual opportunities for pro bono services tend to gravitate toward litigators,” said the Section’s liaison, John Macdonald of Akerman Senterfitt.

“The Florida Bar Business Law Section’s nonprofit initiative will provide a forum for assistance by transactional attorneys who are able to provide guidance in areas such as contracts, employment, construction, real estate and corporate structure,” he said.

Representatives of local nonprofit organizations will have the opportunity to meet one-to-one, by appointment, with attorneys who can provide legal guidance and direction. There is no expectation of a long-term commitment by the volunteer attorneys. 

Florida Legal Services Inc. is coordinating the effort statewide and is working with local agencies to ensure effective communication and involvement. 

In the Fourth Circuit, Florida Legal Services is working with Florida Coastal School of Law, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, The Jacksonville Bar Pro Bono Committee, the Fourth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Community, the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, The Community Foundation in Jacksonville and United Way.

The goal of the clinic is to provide the area’s nonprofits with a strong source of support from the legal community. Transactional attorneys will be on the Florida Coastal campus to address any legal matters of concern for local nonprofit organizations. 

In addition to facilitating the collaboration, Florida Legal Services is providing the appropriate forms for disclosure, waiver of any potential conflicts, and malpractice insurance. 

The Florida Bar Business Law Section hopes to foster an opportunity in which transactional attorneys can offer their expertise to support nonprofit organizations that are serving local communities with social, educational and humanitarian services. 

The event in Jacksonville is the first of a series of events that also will be held in Tampa and Miami.

Transactional attorneys will offer brief counsel and advice to staff members of local nonprofit organizations in individual interviews. Preliminary guidance on nonprofit legal matters can be vital to an organization’s decision-making process. 

Nonprofit organizations are an integral part of our communities and they provide vital services. However, when potential financial supporters experience economic recession, nonprofit organizations experience the same struggle. 

The clinic will offer some relief for nonprofit organizations, whether dealing with financial uncertainty or the challenges of growth.

Pro bono service is a critical part of the legal system because legal needs are often most crucial for underfunded groups and low-income individuals. 

As public support for nonprofit organizations increases, so does the stability of the communities that rely on these groups for the activism and representation of public interests. 

Florida Coastal School of Law is hosting the event on campus at 8787 Baypine Road.

Interested attorneys and nonprofit organizations can participate by registering with Florida Legal Services.

Macdonald asks that Florida Bar and The Jacksonville Bar Business Law Section members and others practicing law of a transactional nature contact Sheila Meehan, the Pro Bono Director of Florida Legal Services Inc., at [email protected] to sign up to participate as advising attorneys. 

Nonprofit organizations interested in receiving legal guidance should contact Meehan to register and schedule appointments for the evening of Oct. 6.

Attorneys interested in additional pro bono opportunities and support resources throughout the Fourth Judicial Circuit are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, Chairwoman, The JBA Pro Bono Committee, [email protected].