The Legal Needs of Nonprofits: An Empirical Study of Tax-Exempt Organizations and Their Access to Legal Services

41 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2020 Last revised: 24 Sep 2020

See all articles by Raymond H. Brescia

Raymond H. Brescia

Albany Law School

Bahareh Ansari

University at Albany

Hannah Hage

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: April 3, 2020

Abstract

This empirical study, using quantitative and qualitative techniques, attempts to assess the state of the legal needs of non-profit organizations, with an emphasis on the ways in which non-profit organizations are or are not accessing assistance addressing their legal services needs. While most research into the extent to which Americans may or may not be accessing legal services focuses on the legal needs of individuals and families, this study focuses on the legal needs of non-profit groups. Our goal with this research project is to contribute to the growing literature on the scope of unmet legal needs in the United States. The findings from this study suggest that many of the groups we surveyed and with which we communicated do have access to legal representation, particularly as groups grow in terms of their financial wherewithal (that is, the size of their budgets). Smaller groups appear to face greater barriers to obtaining legal services, and we attempt to probe some of the reasons that is the case. At the same time, many groups, large and small, are meeting their legal needs through a range of legal services providers: whether they use legal services providers that are themselves non-profit entities that offer them assistance; they obtain the volunteer services of private lawyers who provide representation; or they are simply paying for legal services themselves. Often, as our findings indicate, they are using a mix of these different resources: they are paying for services, obtaining non-profit legal services free-of-charge, and/or utilizing the services of pro bono counsel. This study attempts to begin to fill the gap in the research by exploring not just the unmet legal needs of non-profit groups, but also probing the ways in which non-profit entities that are accessing legal services are able to obtain those services, and from whom. It also attempts to create a taxonomy of needs: an assessment of the types of legal needs the organizations we surveyed face.

Keywords: Access to Justice, Non-Profits, Not-for-Profits, Social Change

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Brescia, Raymond H. and Ansari, Bahareh and Hage, Hannah, The Legal Needs of Nonprofits: An Empirical Study of Tax-Exempt Organizations and Their Access to Legal Services (April 3, 2020). 17 Hastings Race & Poverty Law Journal 451 (2020), Albany Law School Research Paper No. 4 for 2020-2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3567517

Raymond H. Brescia (Contact Author)

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

Bahareh Ansari

University at Albany

1400 Washington Avenue
Building, Room 109
Albany, NY 12222
United States

Hannah Hage

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
55
Abstract Views
330
rank
436,586
PlumX Metrics