FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
General Information About Hiring An Attorney:
Why Should I hire legal for good?
Legal for Good has practical experience in both charitable law enforcement as well as internal nonprofit business operations. We have been to this rodeo before, and can likely provide some insight! We are accessible and committed to working with all types of nonprofits, big and small. Legal for Good provides value to you through individualized products, reliable advice, and a genuine enthusiasm for the sector. Read more about our core values.
How do I know if my nonprofit needs an attorney?
Every organization should have access to legal counsel. There are many situations when a nonprofit needs an attorney more pointedly. Some examples of those times are:
- The organization notices a theft or misuse of charitable assets has occurred
- The organization doesn’t know where its Articles and Bylaws are located
- You haven’t revised your organization’s Articles and/or Bylaws in over four (4) years
- The organization has few or no written policies and procedures for governance or operations
- The organization is struggling with fundraising (an indicator of weak governance, financial policy, etc.)
- The organization is experiencing rapid board member turnover or other board issues
- The organization received a frightening demand letter or government notice
- The organization will soon not have enough money to carry out its day-to-day operations
- The organization is getting audited.
We are more than just attorneys – we’re advisors on a variety of issues.
ABOUT NONPROFIT ATTORNEYS:
What is a nonprofit attorney?
A nonprofit attorney is a lawyer who provides legal advice to nonprofit corporations and charitable organizations. Nonprofit attorneys do not provide free legal services to the public.
Do nonprofit attorneys work for free?
Legal for Good is a fee-for-service law firm and (luckily for us) our clients pay their bills. Legal for Good provides legal services to nonprofits, charitable organizations, and individual donors. While we would like everyone to have access to legal service, we focus on assisting the nonprofit community. If you need legal service generally, or are looking for low-cost legal assistance, please contact the following:
Lawyer Referral Programs
- Minnesota State Bar Association – Online directory of Minnesota attorneys. Statewide – (612) 333-1183.
- Anoka County Bar Association – “Finding a Lawyer” in Anoka County
- Dakota County Bar Association – “Attorney Referral Service” in Dakota County – (952) 431-3200
- Hennepin County Bar Association – “Lawyer Referral and Information Service” in Hennepin County – (612) 752 – 6666
- Ramsey County Bar Association – “Attorney Referral Service” in Ramsey County and East Metro – (651) 224 – 1775
Lawyer Locators for People with Low Income
- LawHelpMN.org – offers a search tool to find free or low-cost legal services based on client’s legal issue and location.
- Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN)
- VLN offers help with legal issues such as housing, bankruptcy, family law, expungement, and debt collection. To find out if you qualify for services, complete a Client Intake by phone or online.
- Phone: (612) 752 – 6677
- Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Mon., Wed., & Thurs.
- Online: Client Intake Form
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT HIRING AN ATTORNEY:
Hiring An Attorney
Hiring an attorney can be an intimidating process. The American Bar Association publishes a book,“The Complete Personal Legal Guide: The Essential Reference for Every Household.” This comprehensive guide will help you decide when you need an attorney, and how to find one you trust. The first chapter “When and How to Use a Lawyer” is helpful.
Questions to Consider When Hiring an Attorney
- How much experience does the attorney have with cases like yours?
- How many years has the attorney been in practice?
- Does the attorney have any practical real world experience?
- Will the attorney understand and represent your point of view?
- How much does the firm charge – and are you willing / able to pay the fees?
- Are you comfortable with the attorney?
- Can you share the personal aspects of your case with this person?
- Do you have confidence that the attorney will be able to resolve your legal situation?
Understanding Attorney Fees and Legal Costs
You should sign a “retainer” agreement and/or fee agreement when authorizing an attorney to work for you. The retainer agreement is your contract with the attorney. It should specify how you will pay (hourly, flat fee, contingency fee, availability retainer, etc.). It should also specify the cost of various legal services. Read your contract carefully and keep a copy.
Cost is an important factor to many people looking for a lawyer. The fees lawyers charge may be confusing, remember the following:
- Flat Fees – the attorney provides a specific service for a specified fee. This arrangement is most common in simple cases such as the production of a will, review of a contract, etc.
- Contingency Fees – The attorney is paid only when money is collected for you. Usually this is set up as a percentage of the settlement or award that is recovered. You will, however, need to pay some costs ‘up front’ such as filing fees and court costs. A contingency arrangement is possible only if you are seeking monetary damages.
- Retainers and Hourly Fees – An attorney often will ask for a retainer or advance payment before starting work for you. The attorney will then subtract hourly fees from this advance and provide you with itemized statements listing the services provided and fees charged against the advance.
Managing the Attorney-Client Relationship
Your Attorney’s Responsibilities:
- Represent you competently – Your attorney should have the legal expertise to handle your case. The attorney should know the legal process and the law as it relates to your case.
- Keep you involved in your case – You (not your attorney) have to live with the outcome of your case. The attorney’s role is to advise and recommend. YOU must make the final decision.
- Remain available – Your attorney should regularly inform you of your case’s progress and return phone calls within a reasonable time.
- Maintain your privacy – In most cases your attorney cannot share facts from your case with others. Ask for more information on attorney-client confidentiality if you have questions.
- Make progress toward resolving your case – The attorney you employed is there to resolve your legal problems – you should expect your attorney to make progress on your case.
- Practice law in an ethical manner – If you have questions or believe your attorney is acting unethically, call the Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility at 651-296-3952.
- Be realistic – Attorneys are not miracle workers. They can only argue the facts as they exist – they cannot lie on your behalf. Find out what is a reasonable outcome in your case.
- Be honest – Tell your attorney every important fact, and maybe some that seem unimportant. Your attorney can’t help you if you aren’t honest. If you hold back facts, you waste your attorney’s time and your money.
- Pay your legal fees – You should expect to pay for services, including phone calls, letters, emails, drafting and reviewing documents, and court appearances.
- Be a part of your case – YOU have to live with the outcome of your case. Let your attorney know what an acceptable outcome is. Ask questions. Try to understand the legal aspects of your case and the legal process as best you
- Respect your attorney’s time – An attorney’s time = your money. Use both wisely. If you must cancel and appointment, notify the attorney in advance. Put questions in writing so the attorney can prepare answers ahead of time.
- Communicate – If you are not happy with your attorney, then voice your concerns. Remember this person is working for you.If a disagreement arises, first speak directly with your attorney to see if you can resolve the problem.
How do I pay for services?
Whenever it’s the best fit for our client, Legal for Good will arrange to bill clients on a flat fee basis. Flat fee arrangements may be paid in full at the outset or by prearranged installments. Hourly billing is also available when a flat fee is not possible or practical for our client. Clients receive an invoice each month showing the work that was done, and clients may choose to pay their invoice by authorizing a recurring credit card payment, paying online, paying by check, or utilizing funds they have deposited in Legal for Good’s trust account. In all cases clients should refer to their retainer and fee agreements for detailed information about specific payments. Contact us to get more information about payments.
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