What is the Nonprofit Legal Assistance Program?
The Nonprofit Legal Assistance Program (NLAP) provides a range of transactional pro bono legal services for qualified nonprofits serving low-income populations, for whom paid legal services would be a hardship. In addition, the program provides education and resources on nonprofit legal issues.
Who is involved?
The NLAP is a collaboration initiated and overseen by the Pro Bono Committee of the Kalamazoo County Bar Association. Partners include ONEplace @ kpl, Community Legal Resources, the Small Business and Nonprofit Legal Clinic at Michigan State University, and many generous local attorneys through the Pro Bono Committee.
What issues will the program address?
The NLAP assists with transactional legal matters such as:
- State nonprofit corporation and IRS tax-exempt application documents (Articles of Incorporation, IRS 1023, and other forms) for qualified start-ups seeking 501(c)(3) status
- Updating or drafting organizational bylaws
- State solicitation reporting requirements
- State and federal licensing paperwork
- Board member responsibilities and conflicts of interest
- IRS form 990 (compliance issues)
- Employee and independent contractor agreements and issues
- Liability issues
- Tax and regulatory compliance issues
- General contract reviews
- Leases and other contracts
- Real estate development and transactions/clearing title to property
- Intellectual property protection
- Economic crisis/hardship planning
- Grant guidelines (terms of award; compliance between grant-funded program and NP’s charitable purpose)
How do nonprofits qualify for the program?
To be eligible for NLAP assistance, a nonprofit organization (NPO) must meet one of the following criteria:
- Fifty-one percent (51%) of the NPO's membership is made up of low-income people (defined as people whose income does not exceed 125% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines) or NPOs that serve low-income individuals or communities
- The NPO's statement of purpose includes activities to benefit low-income, disadvantaged and/or distressed communities
- The matter on which legal assistance is sought raises issues of significant legal consequence to low-income, disadvantaged and/or distressed communities
- Both who the organization is serving and what resources the organization has are taken into consideration
What steps does a nonprofit go through to qualify and receive pro bono legal service?
By referral through ONEplace or visit the Community Legal Resources (CLR) website to learn more about qualifications and application process. CLR serves as the partner in the NLAP that identifies community groups that need assistance and matches them with qualified volunteer attorneys who can help the organization.
- Review and complete the application PDF
- Return the application and required documents to CLR
- CLR reviews the application to assure the NPO qualifies under the guidelines stated above
- CLR then contacts volunteer attorneys from the local bar experienced in the transactional issue under question and makes the connection
- CLR’s staff will monitor the NPO’s relationship with the volunteer attorney and work to ensure that both the attorney and organization are satisfied with the representation
How did this program come about?
The Pro Bono Committee of the Kalamazoo County Bar Association began exploring the possibility of this program in early 2009.
The idea for this program comes out of the convergence of three factors:
- An acute need, heightened by the recent increase in demand for services and accompanying drop in financial resources
- A desire by the bar association to offer more pro bono opportunities for transactional attorneys
- The coming together of several partners with the time, motivation, experience, and financial resources to help address these needs
Stop into ONEplace @ kpl for materials on the NLAP, CLR, and ONEplace: