There is a confluence of factors happening now that has meant a big increase in the volume and value of work that Ontario business lawyers do for Not-for-Profit corporations (aka “Non-Profits”):
- The stakes are much higher for certain issues like HR & funding, e.g., a wrongful termination claim can easily exceed $100,000 as NFP wages have zoomed upwards in the last five years or so
- Volunteer Boards of Directors realize that the lawyer-Director might not have expertise in the area of law needed
- Both the Province of Ontario and Federal Government have enacted huge ‘reforms’ to the corporate law of Non-Profits
- Volunteer Directors are now aware of their real liability exposure and ongoing duties to their corporations
- Lawyer-Directors have become keenly aware of their liability exposure in acting in dual capacities of Director and legal advisor/expert
So, outside counsel with specific expertise are being hired more and more for formal, paid legal services – assistance with complicated agreements, HR matters, governance issues and miscellaneous esoteric legal issues.
And you might well say, “So what? Why do I care about this?” Well, if you’re now a Director, volunteer or senior employee of a Non-Profit, and your organization hasn’t participated in this trend of getting and paying for qualified legal advice, then it’s high time you jumped aboard!
And by the way, there’s a terrific article on Liability of Directors by the late and truly great charity lawyer, Jane Burke-Robertson on the Government of Canada website, click here.