Lawyers have organization-leadership limits
Law school does lots of lovely things for us, but it does not teach us to understand foundation or donor culture, to raise money, to market the mission, to maintain donor and grantee relationships, and so on. It’s one thing to draft good bylaws; it’s quite another to give life, purpose, and vision to the nonprofit organization those bylaws govern.
As noted in the first half of this article, since its inception our foundation board has been 100 percent lawyers, as the bylaws required. Our current board has just amended the bylaws and is now recruiting outside our association’s ranks. We need new kinds of expertise—fundraising, money management, and communications/marketing. The only conceivable arguments against recruiting outside the bar are dilutions of lawyer leadership and legal culture. But it’s easy to manage the former in the bylaws by controlling the number of “outside professional” board positions. As to culture, I believe our law foundation would be best served by de-emphasizing “law” in favor of more “foundation” emphasis. And the value of adding new expertise is so great that it’s worth a little culture change.