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
- Clinic Registration
- Preparing for the Clinic
- After the Clinic
- Policies and Procedures
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 –Reviewing and revising personnel policies, employment contracts, and confidentiality agreements. Must be 3 pages or less.
- 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 limited financial resources for legal assistance. Please leave a message at (206) 324-5850 or reach us via our contact form with questions.
This clinic is exclusively for small businesses, and does not provide services for individual or personal concerns. Consultations are by appointment only and often fill up quickly. To be eligible, household income must be less than 80% of the 2021 HUD King County median income for any/all business owners. Communities Rise will continue to use 2021 data until the data for 2022 is available.
These services are available by appointment only for Washington based small businesses. Contact us via our contact form with any questions.
I’d like to register…
If your business or organization fits within the criteria listed above and your legal inquiry falls within topics which we are able to assist with, please see our upcoming clinics page to find the next available clinic and to register.
I sent an email about registering, now what?
Once you have emailed us about your interest in registering for one of our clinics, a Communities Rise staff member will follow up with you via email about next steps or additional questions. We will send you a link to our online Clinic Client Form to fill out, which will give us some background information about your business or organization, what type of legal assistance you are seeking, and contains our Limited Engagement agreement (terms and conditions for providing you legal services).
I have filled out my Clinic Client Form, now what?
Upon completion of your Clinic Client Form, a member of our staff will email you to confirm your legal clinic appointment. In the event that our legal clinic does not seem like a good fit for the type of assistance you are seeking, we will do our best to provide you with some other options such as our direct services or referrals.
Preparing for the Clinic
Where are the clinics located?
Due to Covid-19 and the ongoing pandemic, all legal clinics in 2022 will be hosted virtually either via Zoom or conference call until further notice.
When hosted in person (date TBD), both clinics are located in South Seattle:
- The Nonprofit Legal Clinic is located at our office: 3642 33rd Ave S. STE C4 Seattle, WA 98144.
- The Small Business Legal Clinic is hosted at the 2100 Building; 2100 24th Ave S. Seattle, WA 98144 (a five-minute drive from our office).
- Both clinics are located close to major bus lines and the Mount Baker Light Rail Station.
- Both buildings are ADA accessible, do not have steps to enter them and provide restrooms on the ground floor.
Will I receive a logistics email beforehand?
Yes! Once scheduled, an email with logistics will be sent a day or two prior to the clinic. The email will contain information to access the clinic such as Zoom links, addresses (if we are meeting in person), etc.
What should I bring? How can I be best prepared?
You are welcome to take notes during the clinic consultation. When in person (date TBD) feel free to bring paper or a laptop to do so. As one of the services offered through our legal clinics, you will receive a PDF copy of notes from the attorney who you met with so that you have a clear and accurate record of information and recommendations from your meeting.
To prepare for the clinic consultation, it is best if you have a list of questions ready beforehand. The attorney will have read through the Clinic Client Form prior to your meeting so they will have some general information about your business or organization. Keep in mind that your appointment is only 60 minutes long, so you should maximize your time as much as possible! The more specific your questions are, the easier it will be to assist you. If you aren’t sure what questions to ask, that is okay too. The attorney will do their best to guide you in the right direction.
We ask that large organizations select 1-3 representatives to attend the clinic consultation
How is the clinic structured, what should I expect?
Both the nonprofit and small business legal clinics can accommodate up to 10 clients, 5 per hour. Each client will have the opportunity to meet with a team of 1 attorney and 1 law student for an hour long consultation. Our volunteer attorneys and law students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, law firms, and areas of practice.
Day-of Logistics (Zoom)
- For clinics hosted over Zoom, you will receive a logistics email a few days prior to your scheduled clinic date with a Zoom link and any other pertinent information.
- When you sign into Zoom on the day of the clinic, you will be greeted by one of our staff. They will briefly go over how the clinic will work for the evening and outline next steps once the clinic is over.
- You will be placed into a private breakout room with the attorney and law student who you will be meeting with for the evening.
- Once your appointment has ended, you are welcome to sign directly out of Zoom. If you have additional questions for Communities Rise, you are welcome to rejoin the main Zoom session to check in with a staff member.
- You will receive a follow-up email from one of our staff several days after the clinic with a copy of the Consultation Summary Notes taken by the attending law student, as well as any follow-up items flagged by the attorney. Consultation Summary Notes can sometimes take a week or longer to return to you if the attorney needs to do additional research on your legal matter.
After the Clinic
What if I need additional services after my legal clinic appointment?
If you need additional assistance after the legal clinic, we will do our best to connect you with appropriate resources to meet your needs. This might include applying for our direct services or referrals to outside organizations. Feel free to contact us via our contact form after the clinic if you have additional questions!
What if the attorney is unable to answer some of my questions?
Please be aware that while we do our best to pair you with an attorney who has legal expertise in the area for which you are seeking assistance, our clinics are staffed solely by attorneys who volunteer their time. As such, they may not be able to answer all of your questions comprehensively, but will do their best to provide you with additional resources as they are able. If they are unable to assist you with a specific question, Communities Rise staff will do our best to help you with next steps (e.g. applying for our direct services, referrals, etc.).
We have a range of accommodations available to ensure that your legal clinic appointment is helpful to you. If you would like to request accommodations (e.g. language translation services, live transcription for Zoom, etc.), please let us know! Feel free to include your request in your Clinic Client Form or through email when scheduling your appointment.
Policies and Procedures
We created this list of client and attorney policies to ensure that our clients are provided with high-quality legal services and the clinic runs smoothly for both our clients and our volunteer attorneys.
Legal Clinic Forms:
- Clients are required to submit a Clinic Client Form before being scheduled for a clinic. The Clinic Client Form consists of the following sections:
- General information about the client and their legal needs, so we can try our best to match them with an attorney that will have the experience and knowledge to help them.
- The Limited Engagement section, which we ask clients to sign to acknowledge their understanding that the legal clinic creates a limited attorney-client relationship and that the attorney is providing legal information in the clinic setting only.
- The Clinic Client Form must be returned at least 2 business days prior to the client’s scheduled appointment (for example, if the clinic is scheduled for a Monday, the form will need to be returned by Thursday of the previous week). Failure to return this form prior to the due date may result in the client’s loss of their appointment.
- Please provide any supplemental documentation you would like reviewed (e.g. contracts, policies, etc. that are 3 pages or less) a minimum of 2 business days prior to their scheduled clinic appointment. Failure to send supplemental documentation within this time-frame may result in the client’s appointment being rescheduled for a future date.
- Clients will receive a reminder email for their appointment 1-2 days before the scheduled date. We ask that scheduled organizations respond to the reminder email to confirm their legal clinic appointment at least 1 day before the scheduled appointment time. Failure to do so may result in the loss of their appointment.
- For a Zoom or over-the-phone clinic appointment:
- Clients are asked to log on or dial in to their appointment at their scheduled time. Out of respect for our volunteer attorneys’ and other clients’ time, if you are going to be late, please email us at email@example.com, 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.
- For an in-person clinic appointment:
- To allow for parking and checking in, we ask that clients plan to arrive for their appointments 10-15 minutes before their appointment time. Out of respect for our volunteer attorneys’ and other clients’ time, if you are going to be late, please call us at (206) 324-5850, 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 fifteen or more 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.
Bringing Additional Guests or Children:
- Clients are welcome to bring their children or additional guests (up to two) to their legal clinic appointment. Children must remain with their parents or guardian at all times during the clinic. 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). Unfortunately, our premises are not suitable for young children and we kindly ask that they remain under your supervision at all times as you will be solely responsible for your child.
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.