Have questions about how our clinics work? Check out the answers below for many frequently asked questions!
This page answers a number of frequently asked questions about our legal clinics. For a broad overview of our clinics, check out the Legal Clinic – Client Information page.
- Is the clinic the right place for my organization’s legal needs/questions?
- Types of legal issues covered at the clinics
- Client Eligibility
Is the clinic the right place for my organization’s legal needs/questions?
Communities Rise offers monthly legal clinics for Washington state based, low-income small business owners and nonprofit organizations who would not otherwise have access to legal services. Qualifying clients are paired with an attorney for a free 1-hour limited engagement legal consultation to discuss business-transactional matters (e.g. start-up questions, intellectual property, nonprofit governance, choice of legal entity, etc.). The intention is to provide a forum for nonprofits and small businesses to have a place to ask questions that can be answered within a 60-minute consultation without creating an on-going attorney-client relationship.
Our legal clinic program offers a transactional and counseling clinic, which means that we do not represent clients in litigation, arbitration, mediation or any other active dispute. Please keep in mind the clinic provides a 60 minute consultation and therefore drafting, creating, or reviewing lengthy documents is not possible.
Our clinics center on providing businesses and organizations with information that will help identify issues before they become serious problems.
Types of legal issues covered at the clinics
- Incorporation and application for tax exemption status under IRS Code sec. 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4). Only general questions.
- Nonprofit Governance – Advising on good governance; advice on incorporation; and advice regarding other corporate policies (e.g. conflict of interest, whistleblower etc).
- Maintenance and Compliance – Advising on maintaining a Washington nonprofit under Washington State law and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status under IRS Code sec. 501(c)(3), including unrelated business income and compliance with lobbying restrictions.
- Taxes – Advice on legal side of federal, state, and local taxes. We recommend consulting with an accountant for assistance filing or calculating taxes.
- Employment –Advising on personnel policies, employment contracts, and confidentiality agreements.
- Real Estate – Advising on real estate property leases, purchase and sale agreements.
- Intellectual Property – Advising on intellectual property issues, including registration of trademarks, copyright protection, license agreements, or website-related agreements. Only general information. We do not provide legal assistance with patents.
- Risk and Liability Assessment – Advising on risk and liability including waiver and release forms, and general advice on insurance coverage. We recommend consulting with an accountant for assistance filing or calculating taxes.
- Federal Tax-Exempt Status – Advising on obtaining of 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Only general questions.
- Business Entity Formation – Advising on choice of entity (LLC/PLLC, sole proprietor, partnership, c-corporation, social purpose corporation) and creation of corporate entity.
- Advising on Agreements – Advising on shareholder agreements, operating agreements.
- Advice on Corporate Governance
- Maintenance and Compliance with State and Federal Law
- Taxes – Advising on legal side of federal, state, and local taxes. We recommend consulting with an accountant for assistance filing or calculating taxes.
- Employment – Advising on personnel policies, independent contractor agreements, vendor agreements, employment contracts, and confidentiality agreements.
- Real Estate – Advising on property leases and purchase and sale agreements.
- Intellectual Property – Advising on intellectual property issues, including assisting with registration of trademarks, and advising on copyright protection, license agreements, or website-related agreements. Only general questions. We do not provide legal assistance with patents.
- Risk and Liability Assessment – Advising on risk and liability including waiver and release forms, and advice on general insurance coverage. We recommend speaking with an insurance broker for in-depth insurance needs.
What legal issues are NOT covered at the clinics?
We do not cover the following at any of our clinics:
- Litigation Matters – Communities Rise does not provide assistance on litigation matters (i.e. court or administrative hearings).
- Individual Claims against Nonprofits – Communities Rise does not provide assistance to individuals with their pursuit of claims against nonprofit and community organizations.
- Legal Matters for Individuals – Communities Rise does not provide assistance to individuals in their personal legal matters in areas such as family law, immigration, foreclosure, bankruptcy, etc.
- Legal Advice Over the Phone – Communities Rise does not provide legal advice over the phone. We are not a “hotline” service. We only provide legal assistance upon receiving a written application. However, we are available to answer questions about the application process over the phone or by email. Exceptions may be made for phone consultations on a case-by-case basis.
- Contracts – If you are seeking document review (e.g. review of contracts, bylaws, etc.), the legal clinic may not be a good fit as it is very difficult to go over an entire document in a 1-hour appointment. Please contact us via our contact form and we can assist you in finding the appropriate type of services.
- 1023 Applications – Due to the time limitations of the clinics, filling out applications or lengthy documents is not possible. Feel free to reach us via our contact form and we can assist you in finding the appropriate type of services.
How do I know if my organization is eligible for the legal clinic?
Our legal clinics are available by appointment only, and intended for Washington based 501c3 and 501c4 organizations with charitable purpose and limited financial resources for legal assistance. Please reach us via our contact form with questions.
This clinic is exclusively for small businesses and does not provide services for individua, personal or family concerns. Consultations are by appointment only and often fill up quickly. To be eligible, household income must be less than 80% of the 2022 HUD King County median income for any/all business owners.
These services are available by appointment only for Washington based small businesses. Contact us at , and let us know what your situation is. We will do our best to work with you to get you the support you need. Clients who arrive ten minutes late, without notice, to their legal clinic appointment may have their appointment cancelled or filled by a client who is on the waitlist.
- While we understand that unforeseen circumstances may arise, we reserve the right to refuse future service if a client, without prior notice, fails to show up to their scheduled appointment time on two separate occasions.
- Additional guests (up to two) are welcome to join the zoom consultation. Please keep in mind that bringing an additional person to the clinic consultation may affect attorney-client privilege (unless the additional person present is essential in aiding the consultation).
Limitation on the number of clinic visits
- Our legal clinics are intended to provide limited engagement assistance to answer client legal questions. The legal clinics are not intended to provide on-going help on a particular legal need. If the client’s legal need requires several meetings, the clinic is not the appropriate place for support and our full representation direct legal services may be a better fit. For this reason, legal clinic clients are limited to two consultations within a 6 month period, after which Communities Rise staff may recommend that the client apply for our direct services or seek outside assistance. Some exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.
Right of Refusal
- If a client fails to turn in their requested documentation (Clinic Client Forms or supplemental documents).
- If a client does not show up without calling or giving us prior notice on two separate occasions.
- If a client is already represented by an attorney and is seeking assistance related to the legal matter which they are already represented for (some exceptions may be made, please contact us).
- In matters related to litigation.
- In matters related to personal or individual matters.
- In matters not related to business legal needs of a nonprofit or small business.
- For organizations that do not have a charitable or social welfare purpose.
- For nonprofit organizations, any conflicts between board members, staff, or the community.