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  1. Not-for-profit (nonprofit and tax exempt organizations)
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Leading lawyers

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Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP recently promoted Alexander Reid to partner; Reid advises tax-exempt organizations (TEOs) on planning, structuring and transactional matters, acts for taxpayers under audit, and helps organizations improve their governance and enhance their tax compliance. The firm also recently added a number of tax partners from Bingham McCutchen. Charities, foundations, colleges and universities, museums and other nonprofits are among Celia Roady’s clients; a ‘truly exceptional and highly creative practitioner’, Roady regularly advises private foundations and public charities on operational and programmatic issues, including the structuring of complex grants, program-related investments, joint ventures and collaboration arrangements. Matthew Elkin focuses on the tax and corporate issues affecting TEOs, with an emphasis on transactional matters such as charitable investment funds, social enterprises, impact investing, and endowment investment programs and policies. All named advisers are based in Washington DC.

Consistently regarded as one of the premier nonprofit practices in the US, the TEO department of New York City law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP advises many of the country’s leading public charities and private foundations, including The Rockefeller Foundation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Teach For America. Recent highlights include launching ExemptOrgResource.com, an online resource designed to keep the nonprofit/TEO community up-to-date on legal developments, changing regulations and good practices. Clients say the ‘best-in-class team is super, provides excellent levels of service and has a strong knowledge of the law, but also a practical understanding of its implications’. Robin Krause, TEO department chair, recently advised a large private foundation on a job creation and training project that involved evaluating the limits of permissible charitable activities in the workforce space, as well as structuring complex relationships with for-profit partners. Tomer Inbar focuses on mission investing, business transactions for nonprofit organizations, and advising charitable organizations (and their for-profit counterparts) as they look for opportunities to advance charitable and social objectives by leveraging commercial structures and mechanisms. Laura Butzel handles internal investigations for charity clients as a result of whistleblower complaints, and advises on third-party investigations at federal and state level. John Sare’s ‘strengths include his knowledge of not-for-profit corporation law as well as trust law, both at the federal and local level; he is also a pleasure to work with and is always responsive to clients’ needs’. Other key advisers include litigation partner Lisa Cleary, employee benefits expert Bernard O’Hare and tax specialist Dahlia Doumar.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s ‘exempt organizations team has its fingers on the pulse of new developments in the law; it continuously provides a high-quality institutional service, has strong leadership, and has a dedicated group of professionals who are thoughtful and responsive to clients’ needs’. Its clients including public charities, private operating and non-operating foundations, supporting organizations, social welfare organizations, and business and sports leagues. In a recent highlight, the team advised Atlantic Philanthropies on agreements with UC San Francisco and Trinity College Dublin to create the Global Brain Health Institute, a new initiative to curb the rise in dementia by training and connecting a new generation of experts worldwide. Other matters included assisting Barry Diller and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation on the creation and operation of a charitable body to build a new pier (Pier 55) comprising a public park and performance space on a dilapidated portion of Manhattan’s lower west side. David Shevlin ‘brings vast knowledge of not-for-profit organizations into his everyday practice and is patient with clients as he discusses detailed legal provisions; Shevlin’s work is extremely thorough, and he is able to distinguish and communicate concerns while providing realistic scenarios and outcomes’. Counsels Jennifer Reynoso, known for advising public charities and private foundations on structural and operating issues, and Jennifer Franklin, who has significant experience in charitable gift planning, ‘deserve special recognition’.

Venable LLP has ‘deep knowledge and the practice is generous enough to give lots of free training to the nonprofit sector’. Its clients range from some of the nation’s largest philanthropic charities to leading trade and professional associations. In Washington DC, nonprofit organizations practice head Jeffrey Tenenbaum regularly represents clients before Congress and state and federal regulatory agencies, and advises on enforcement actions, governmental investigations, litigation and media relations; he has also served as an expert witness in several court cases on nonprofit legal issues. George Constantine, Lisa Hix, Brock Landry and Lawrence Norton are also recommended. Robert Waldman and Thora Johnson are key Baltimore practitioners; and Matthew Journy in Washington DC is a highly rated counsel.

At San Francisco-based firm Adler & Colvin, the lawyers ‘truly specialize’ in the laws relating to nonprofit organizations. Rosemary Fei has an emphasis on legislative lobbying and advocacy issues, candidate-related political activities, nonprofit corporate governance (including membership issues), and religious entities; Robert Wexler is noted for tax and corporate matters for nonprofits and their donors; and Eric Gorovitz is recommended for political advocacy and nonprofit corporate governance. Other key advisers include Nancy McGlamery, Stephanie Petit and also David Levitt, who is well regarded for nonprofit corporate governance, social enterprise, program-related investments and political advocacy. Erik Dryburgh focuses on endowments, charitable gift planning and nonprofit organizations. Gregory Colvin is a well-respected senior counsel.

Arent Fox LLP’s lawyers in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC stand out for their expertise in new market tax credits, tax-exempt bond financing, the real estate aspects of municipal bankruptcies, and local tax subsidies. The firm recently picked up not-for-profit (NFP) healthcare organization, Adventist Health, as a new client; the team serves as sole outside benefits counsel to AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons); and real estate highlights included advising Planned Parenthood Federation of America on its sale of a New York office condominium to Brookfield Office Properties. Contentious matters included scoring a victory for the American Library Association (the oldest and largest library association in the world) before the FCC on funding for schools and libraries. Richard Newman and Deanne Ottaviano in Washington DC are highly rated, as is New York-based Richard Krainin. Washington DC-based counsel Davis Sherman also deserves mention.

Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered has focused on the special needs of charities and other organizations for decades, and has a client base ranging from small charities to some of the largest and best-endowed private foundations and institutions. Washington DC-based Douglas Varley advises on the design of major grant-making programs and is involved in the development of national educational campaigns that target significant policy issues; he also advises on international philanthropy and transactions with for-profit organizations. Mark Matthews is a tax specialist and, over the last decade, William Klimon has advised more than 500 nonprofit organizations on formation and dissolution issues, as well as nonprofit mergers. Marcus Owens left for Loeb & Loeb LLP’s Washington DC office.

Loeb & Loeb LLP welcomed Washington DC-based Diara Holmes and Marcus Owens (a former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division) from Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered into its charitable giving and TEO practice; together they advise some of the US’ most prominent nonprofit organizations on tax controversy, investigations, transactional planning and governance matters. Former bureau chief of the New York State attorney general’s Charities Bureau Jason Lilien advises clients throughout the nonprofit sector on corporate transactions, governance, investigations, nonprofit formation and charitable fundraising; and Eliot Green (also in New York) is recommended for advising private family and corporate foundations and public charities, primarily in the areas of healthcare, education, social services, the arts, and sports. Leah Bishop in Los Angeles has extensive experience advising on charitable giving and TEOs.

One of the most experienced nonprofit practices in the US, McDermott Will & Emery LLP stands out for its strong healthcare practice, where it advises nonprofit hospitals and other types of tax-exempt healthcare organizations, such as HMOs, home health agencies and skilled nursing facilities. It also advises tax-exempt higher education and religious organizations, trade associations, and private and company foundations. The team advised the exclusive US representative for swimming on the US Olympic Committee, USA Swimming, on its attempt to move its 25-year-old Barbados captive insurance company to the District of Columbia. It also regularly acts for the Wildlife Conservation Society, UMB Bank, Rush University Medical Center and the University of California. Los Angeles-based Ira Rappeport and Gary Gertler are recommended, as are Michael Peregrine and Bernadette Broccolo in Chicago.

Proskauer Rose LLP welcomed William Silverman from Greenberg Traurig, LLP in New York to spearhead the firm’s global pro bono efforts. The team advises collegiate and international sports leagues, higher education institutions, NFP hospitals and health systems, international healthcare initiatives, museums and performing arts organizations, and public charities. High-profile engagements include serving as legal counsel and strategic adviser on the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic Games bid, and assisting world-renowned performing arts school Juilliard on setting up a ten-year relationship with Nord Anglia Education, a publicly traded operator of premium international schools. It also acted for newly formed NFP corporation, BIG Initiatives, in its acquisition of certain assets related to the Build It Green! New York City program of the Community Environmental Center (the CEC is now bankrupt). Amanda Nussbaum, also in New York, is recommended.

Reed Smith LLP has extensive experience representing colleges and universities, hospitals, private and community foundations, museums, libraries, and trade associations, and is well versed in dealing with the IRS during private letter rulings and exemption applications. High-profile work included advising a group of foundations on purchasing, out of receivership, the August Wilson Center for African American Arts and Culture. Other matters included assisting the Conservation Fund with structuring acquisitions and joint ventures involving sustainable forestry in a way that would not lead to unrelated business taxable income as a result of timber sales or the exchange of carbon offsets. Carolyn Duronio in Pittsburgh is highly rated.

Ropes & Gray LLP acts for many of the US’ largest universities, research institutes, foundations, hospitals and academic medical centers. In Boston, Lorry Spitzer focuses on the taxation of nonprofit organizations, especially colleges, universities and healthcare organizations; and Kendi Ozmon’s experience includes leading the advice to a nonprofit organization during its two-year IRS audit, further to which neither taxes nor penalties were imposed. Carolyn Ward in Washington DC is a key counsel.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP has ‘an excellent practice that gives an impressive service’. The practice acted for American Institute of Physics (AIP) and its affiliate AIP Publishing in tax, employment law and corporate governance; and advised Chicago Public Media on tax matters relating to the sale of its interest in the popular radio show, This American Life, to the show’s creator and long-time host, Ira Glass. It is also assisting longstanding client the National Park Foundation (NPF) prepare for the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016, including advising on corporate sponsorships to raise financial and other support for the centennial activities. Washington DC-based practice co-chair Suzanne McDowell is ‘a terrific lawyer who has many years of experience and is a very thoughtful and solid practitioner’, and in addition, the advice she provides ‘is practical and responsive to clients’ needs, while also addressing complex issues in an understandable way’. Also in Washington DC, practice co-chair Catherine Wilkinson frequently advises clients on government investigations, IRS audits and voluntary disclosures. In New York, the arrival of Beth Tractenberg and of counsel Jasmine Campirides from Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP has expanded the team’s capacity to advise on estate planning, charitable trusts and issues affecting high-net-worth individuals. Additionally, the team welcomed the return of co-chair Lisa Zarlenga in Washington DC from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy.

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP’s clients include major foundations and charities, universities, hospitals and healthcare institutions, churches and social welfare organizations. The practice stands out for its advice on regulatory matters, tax, real estate, litigation, trusts and financial restructuring, and its attorneys have played key roles in developing legislation and public policy that is supportive of the NFP sector. The team was counsel to The Amsterdam at Harborside, a continuing care retirement community, in a $220m debt restructuring via a pre-negotiated Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan; the complex matter juggled the competing interests of regulatory compliance, financial necessity and meeting the senior care community’s essential non-profit aims. Other transactional matters included advising Shorefront Jewish Geriatric Center, an affiliate of client MJHS (formerly Metropolitan Jewish Health System), on the sale of a skilled nursing facility to an established for-profit nursing home operator. Paul Mourning, Kathy Chin and Brian McGovern in New York are recommended.

Covington & Burling LLP has a long history of advising nonprofits in the US and internationally and earns praise from clients for ‘response times that are very good’. Clients include the National Geographic Society, which the team routinely advises on tax, nonprofit and corporate projects. Elsewhere, it acted as outside general counsel to Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, which was established by Congress to protect and restore the station’s historic architecture, preserve and develop its function as a transport hub, and enhance its retail and other amenities. It also advised the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation on more than $60m worth of design, project management and construction contracts. Washington DC-based Robert Gage and Jeremy Spector are recommended, together with of counsels Heather Haberl, Stuart Irvin and Susan Leahy. Former of counsel Kevin Shortill retired from the practice.

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP expanded its TEO practice significantly in 2015 with the hire of four attorneys from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York. These were counsels JJ Harwayne Leitner, Coleen McGrath and Shveta Kakar, and partner Daniel Kurtz, who is a former assistant attorney general in charge of the Charities Bureau in the New York State Attorney General’s office. Another new recruit is San Francisco and New York-based Jean Tom, who joined from Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP. Seattle-based TEO chair LaVerne Woods has over 20 years’ experience working in the nonprofit sector, with a special interest in healthcare, social entrepreneurism and international philanthropy. The team acts as general and specialty counsel to Health Share of Oregon, advising on, among other things, governance and regulatory compliance matters. It also handles foundation structuring and assists with grant-making compliance programs and with IRS and attorney general examinations of executive compensation paid by nonprofits. The Seattle Children’s Hospital and The Seattle Art Museum are notable clients.

West Coast firm Farella Braun + Martel LLP advises more than 100 philanthropic organizations in the US and around the world. These range from community, private, family and corporate foundations to charitable trusts and public charities. Recent highlights include acting for Walt Disney Family Foundation and Walt Disney Family Museum on museum structure, tax and regulatory compliance issues. In San Francisco, Cynthia Rowland’s ‘knowledge of the relevant law is noteworthy, but she also has the ability to translate complex, nuanced legal matters to clients’. Barbara Murphy is also a key contact.

Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp’s Los Angeles-based David Newman is well known for his ‘impressive and precise advice’ to individuals and families on estate planning and tax planning on investment activities. Newman also represents charitable organizations in governance, tax exemption, and charitable gift planning programs. Allan Cutrow is known for charitable gift planning, exempt organizations, and estate and gift tax planning for artists and collectors; and Jeffrey Davine assists with contentious IRS matters.

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP’s clients range from small local nonprofits to nationally-reaching organizations, spanning a range of industries from healthcare to education to the fine arts. The team’s advice includes assisting private foundations, philanthropic trusts, universities and community-focused organizations with structuring nonprofits, IP matters and trust-related litigation. The ‘trustworthy and accurate practice’ is counsel to one of the biggest biomedical charities in Italy, Fondazione Telethon, whose mission is the advancement of biomedical research into muscular dystrophies and other human genetic diseases; the team handles the charity’s global trademark prosecution matters. The team also assisted with setting up a US fundraising arm of a South African charity, whose aim is to build a maternal health center to serve a part of the country that is very impoverished. Cynthia Fischer in New York is ‘a highly experienced and talented adviser who always strives to achieve clients’ objectives’.

Sidley Austin LLP’s team has lawyers located in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC and New York and handles some of the most complex matters for large non-profit organizations, including transactions, drafting and negotiating contracts, and litigation. The ‘simply terrificMichael Clark and ‘the reliable and professionalPaul Svoboda are practice leaders; Clark’s recent experience includes advising a corporate foundation’s board and staff on directors’ and officers’ fiduciary duties, while Svoboda developed education-related charitable program guidelines for a charitable trusts group. Jack Bierig and counsel Lynn Fleisher are also highly rated advisers. All named practitioners are in Chicago.

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