How Lawyers Can Make or Break the Business of Doing Good

Dec. 8, 2017

Sara Garlick-Lundberg

Not long ago, while running the New York office of a children’s charity, I asked a lawyer to review a marketing agreement. We asked for a quick review, gently reminding the lawyer, who had come recommended by a trusted source, that we were a nonprofit and that we needed to be mindful of our expenses. I emailed the lawyer the agreement and waited. The result? A week later, to my horror, we received the lawyer’s edits… along with a bill for $4,500.

I don’t have to tell anyone who has worked at a nonprofit organization or managed a nonprofit budget what an unwelcome surprise this was. It was a big hit and it was entirely my responsibility. I had been careful to seek advice from a trusted source. I was careful to remind the referred attorney that our budget was limited. We thought she would understand and respect the constraints of a nonprofit budget. We were burned.

Nonprofits are in the business of bettering the world and, in many cases, aren’t equipped with the expertise needed to navigate every important legal matter—whether it’s a review of a lease, an update of HR policies, or something more complex like a merger agreement.

Nonprofits need legal advice and many don’t know where to turn.

When I was working in nonprofits, I didn’t know that the legal field has a rich history of pro bono work, but even if I had, I may not have known how or where to find a lawyer willing to work with us.

Back in 1969, a group of New York City lawyers created a way to solve this problem and established what is now called the Lawyers Alliance for New York. Lawyers Alliance is itself a nonprofit that provides vital pro bono legal services to other nonprofits. The organization has saved our city’s mission-driven organizations countless dollars and helped advance their efforts to create and sustain vibrant and necessary communities, services, and programs.

In recent weeks, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know the team at Lawyers Alliance and I’ve been overwhelmed by the commitment, intelligence, and drive of its team. I’m excited to call them one of DRG’s newest clients.  

Lawyers Alliance is planning for its future and DRG is partnering with the organization to secure a Director of Development to lead fundraising at this $3m organization.  Ideal candidates will be creative fundraisers with an eye for steady and incremental change, as well as experience in the areas of foundation, corporate, event, and individual giving.

I hope you’ll take a moment to learn more about Lawyers Alliance for New York and share this position with friends and qualified candidates. It’s an organization with a mission and clients all close to my heart, and I am proud to be conducting this search for them.

Please reach out to me directly if you have an interest or know of qualified candidates. To learn more about the role, visit the job description on the DRG website. Resumes and inquiries can be sent directly to me or to