Tax-exempt organizations

The firm’s attorneys include some of the nation’s leading practitioners in all aspects of nonprofit organization law. Our clients range from major tax-exempt section 501(c)(4) national advocacy organizations, labor unions and section 501(c)(3) charities to family foundations and local nonprofits, to innovative taxable nonprofits that blend social commitment with entrepreneurial strategies.

See a list of some of our clients here.

Nonprofit organizations across the country turn to our firm for a full spectrum of legal services. We have helped establish, and secured tax exemptions for, hundreds of nonprofit organizations, and we have advised nonprofit managers, funders and officers at every stage of organizations’ lifecycles. A sampling of these issues includes:

  • Navigating election laws to elect candidates and pass ballot measures;
  • Establishing nonpartisan voter registration drives;
  • Structuring corporate boards and advisory committees;
  • Complying with lobbyist registration rules and lobbying restrictions in grant agreements;
  • Protecting copyrights and trademarks;
  • Negotiating mergers and vendor agreements;
  • Solving complicated tax problems regarding unrelated business tax and other matters;
  • Defending nonprofits facing campaign-finance, IRS and Congressional investigations;
  • Troubleshooting new projects and programs;
  • Developing employment handbooks, advising on workplace disputes and negotiating separation agreements; and
  • Resolving ethical dilemmas.

We help nonprofits steer through the Internal Revenue Service’s tangle of statutes, laws, regulations, rulings, advice and informal practices.

Firm lawyers often serve as groups’ outside general counsel and strategic advisers. Further, we assist institutional and individual funders and service providers to understand the tax rules, so they can help organizations leverage their tax status to the greatest extent possible, without jeopardizing the organizations’ exemptions.

Because most of the firm’s practitioners have worked directly for nonprofit organizations as managers, officers, lawyers and in other roles, we understand and value the qualities that make nonprofits unique institutions.  Our backgrounds give us strategic insights to help clients achieve their legal and policy goals.

In sum, our commitment to all our clients is to provide specialized insights on whatever legal issues they face.

Our lawyers have:

  • Secured numerous favorable private letter rulings from the Internal Revenue Service, and firm partner Holly Schadler successfully litigated the precedent-setting Sierra Club v. Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service, 86 F.3d 1526 (9th Cir. 1996), which determined the royalty treatment of affinity credit cards and mailing lists thereby excluding the income from unrelated business income tax.
  • Written or co-written major legal handbooks for nonprofits published by the Alliance for Justice:

The Connection: Strategies for Creating and Operating 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and Political Organizations

The Rules of the Game: The Rules of the Game: A Guide to Election-Related Activities for 501(c)(3) Organizations 

Robocalling Rules: Before you Pick Up that Phone, Hold that Call—What You Need to Know about Robocalls, Robotexts, and Autodialers

Influencing Public Policy in the Digital Age: The Law of Online Lobbying and Election-related Activities


  • Trained thousands of nonprofit staff and volunteers to maximize their advocacy.