March 31, 2015 Articles

Ethics Considerations for Attorneys Serving on Nonprofit Boards

Attorneys are often attractive candidates for nonprofit boards, but serving on a board has risks.

By Dan Ebner

Attorneys have insights that often make them attractive members of nonprofit boards. However, accepting a position as a nonprofit board member has risks because the role of a board member who happens to be an attorney can inadvertently slide into that of an attorney who represents the organization through its board. And even when a board member affirmatively chooses to represent the organization, a host of ethics issues are present.

This article identifies the key ethics rules related to attorneys serving on nonprofit boards, discusses the different roles an attorney serving as a board member can have, and analyzes conflicts issues in greater detail. Although it is beyond the scope of this article, you should also consider fiduciary duties imposed by state and federal law on your service on a not-for-profit board and how privilege relates to your service as a board member.

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