Society 54 gives you direct access to what In-House Counsel want from their lawyers and law firms. This is a “special edition” of CLIENTSpeak featuring Jen Thompson, the Executive Director of Lighthouse for Life, a non-profit organization fighting human trafficking in the Midlands of South Carolina. Below is a Q&A from a recent interview with Jen regarding her experience hiring legal counsel in the non-profit sector.
Q: What factors influence how you selected your counsel?
A: The attorney we work with was chosen based on his reputation in community. He is a great father and husband, an elder in his church and an attorney at a reputable law firm. He has shown good character in all interactions and values the people in his life personally and professionally. He has also repeatedly gone “the extra mile” by meeting with others in our organization to give advice and to discuss issues that I may not have knowledge of.
Q: What are some things that legal counsel have done that have made a positive impression and/or impact?
A: First and foremost, a quality work product is very important. Our current attorney goes as far as to share his work with other attorneys in his network (with my permission) and ask them to review and offer feedback. This is all done at no charge to us. He has gone above and beyond to ensure quality work. He leverages his relationships, both personal and professional, on behalf of our organization. Through his introductions, we have gotten volunteers who are willing to share their own talents with us. These volunteers are so valuable to the functions and success of a non-profit. Other things that leave a great impression include responsiveness, efficiencies with time and resources, sending unsolicited research and articles that provide great insight to what we do, and showing a passion and awareness for our work within the community and the state.
Q: Do attorney superlatives play a role in your selection of legal counsel?
A: No. If they have been recognized for good work, that’s wonderful. More important to us, however, are their character and work product.
Q: What are the biggest mistakes legal counsel can make?
A: When helping non-profits, they should avoid slander and sharing negative personal opinions – both toward other firms and attorneys as well as other non-profits. If giving examples of mistakes other organizations have made, do so without naming them. Also, they should avoid avoid publicizing the work they’re doing or have done unless they have our permission. Finally, the work should be done in a timely manner. Certainly when the work is done pro-bono we realize it isn’t the attorney’s first priority, but if the he or she is going to offer assistance we appreciate if they keep in mind that we are also on our own deadlines.