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Charitable Board Program Packs the House

Lawyers attended a free CLE to learn how to find charitable board opportunities and key information they need to know to be an effective board member.

Lawyers attended a free CLE to learn how to find charitable board opportunities and  to learn about key information they need to know to be an effective board member.

This morning, more than 100 attorneys interested in joining charitable boards filled the BBA’s conference center and tuned in online for the Tax Exempt Organizations Section’s Charitable Board Program. This annual CLE, originally created as a project of the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP), featured two all-star panels ready to provide helpful tips for finding board opportunities and an overview of the legal, financial, and compliance information necessary for becoming an effective board member.

Beyond the Billable asked Nora Mann, Assistant Attorney General of the Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division at the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General and moderator for panel one, why lawyers are uniquely qualified to serve on boards. Here’s what she had to say:

“Lawyers can offer many things apart from legal advice to a board. They’re analytical and generally not afraid to speak their minds. And lawyers tend to want to work hard and keep learning and participation or service on a charitable board is perfect for that.”

Nevertheless, she also stressed both the awards and commitments that come along with the decision to become a board member.

“I hope that lawyers came away with a sense that board service is hard and rewarding – that it’s not a throw-away, it’s not simply charity, but its support for a vital, growing economic sector and is a tremendous opportunity to anyone.”

If you missed the program but want to learn more, contact Kristen White, CLE Manager, at kwhite@bostonbar.org to find out how you can watch the program online.

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Giving Back on a Board

It’s that time of year again. Although Boston is still reaching temperatures in the 80’s by the afternoon, there is no denying the slight coolness in the air these past few mornings. September has always been an exciting month for me, there are new classes to be taken, new friends to be made, and new extracurricular activities to be tried. It is a time to step out of your comfort zone and reinvent the person you can be this year.
 
This year I’ve had the pleasure of helping to organize the BBA’s annual, Charitable Boards Service event scheduled for September 14th. The event is an opportunity to discover how serving on a charitable board is a way to contribute to a worthy cause, gain experience, and use your skills to serve your community in an area of your personal interest. Specifically, attendees will learn how to find board membership opportunities, identify topics that board members should be aware of – such as fiduciary duties, fiscal oversight, and governance issues, and hear fellow attorneys discuss their own experiences serving on boards.

As a member of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy board, my own service has been an opportunity to expand my professional network and contribute to a personal interest of mine. I have been able to take on leadership roles and develop skills that I could never gain simply from practicing law.

Based on my personal experience I encourage all attorneys to serve on a charitable board. Board service can be valuable for any attorney, from the new attorney who is seeking substantive experience and the unemployed attorney who is hoping to expand existing networks to the soon-to-be retired attorney looking for the next challenge and the attorney taking a break from the practice of law who still wishes to sharpen those legal skills. Even the busy, well-established attorney can find a few hours here and there to contribute knowledge and expertise to a favorite cause.
 
So while I hope you enjoy these last few days of summer, I encourage you all to attend the Charitable Board Service event and consider offering your time and expertise to a worthy organization.

Jennifer R. Garcia
Metropolitan Area Planning Council