Albany Law School announced today that it has released a suite of web-based programs to help lawyers better and more efficiently serve their nonprofit clients. Through the new Non-Profit Formation Tool, lawyers can easily create documents that are critical to gaining legal status for not-for-profit organizations in the State of New York.
The free Non-Profit Formation Tool uses guided interviews to assist lawyers in preparing two important organizational documents: the Certificate of Incorporation and By-Laws. After answering a few simple questions, lawyers and their not-for-profit clients can generate these documents with the push of a button.
The Non-Profit Formation Tool is available to lawyers working at nonprofit organizations and private attorneys serving their clients on a pro-bono basis. The Tool was created for the exclusive use of attorneys admitted to practice in New York State for the sole purpose of providing free legal assistance to individuals who seek to form non-membership based not-for-profit corporations under New York law. To request access to the Non-Profit Formation Tool, visit albanylaw.edu/resources/non-profit-formation-tool.
Albany Law School students—enrolled in the course "The Law of Social Entrepreneurship and Exempt Organizations"—designed the Non-Profit Formation Tool's guided interviews, which were built on the A2J Author platform made available by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). During the process, the students, instructed by Professor Ray Brescia, the Hon. Harold R. Tyler Chair in Law and Technology, learned about representing social entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations, grappled with the ways in which technology is impacting the practice of law, and explored ways to harness technology to improve access to justice, which is the goal of these guided interviews: to improve the ability of lawyers in New York to serve nonprofit groups across the state.
The Non-Profit Formation Tool is the latest example of Albany Law School's leadership in practical and pedagogical innovation. Previously, Albany Law School partnered with the Empire Justice Center—a nonprofit based in New York—and the University at Albany to produce a web-based foreclosure guide designed to assist homeowners facing mortgage foreclosure without a lawyer. Also in collaboration with UAlbany, law students generated the New York Bank Ratings Index, a web-based program that enables individuals to choose the bank that best fits their needs through a customizable series of benchmarks.
This year, students are also working on an online portal that will provide guidance to nonprofit groups nationwide on compliance issues concerning political-activity limits under Internal Revenue Service guidelines and the federal tax code.
The students and faculty involved in these projects have written about their experiences—and the work of Albany Law School in promoting innovation in the delivery of legal services—in the Albany Law Review, Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology, and elsewhere.