Common Interest
Ben Flavin on the intersection of arts, community development and the law.

Common Interest: Ben Flavin on the intersection of arts, community development and the law.

Opening Remarks: Not for Profits and Social Enterprise: Starting and Managing your Public Interest Company

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Ben Flavin, opening Remarks; 4/4/2013

Thank you for joining us this evening for “Not for Profits and Social Enterprise:  Starting and Managing Your Public Interest Company”.  Your Panel tonight is compromised of Participants and Alumni of CUNY Law School’s Incubator for Justice.  The Incubator for Justice, started in 2007, has provided the foundational support for solo and small firm practitioners who wish to further their commitment to the public interest by operating community based law practices and/or non-profit organizations.  Participants of the Incubator learn how to represent low-income individuals and families in critical areas of public interest law such has housing, community and economic development, entertainment law, small business law, and immigration. The business management and development skills help prepare them for their own practices and the lawyering skills help them to augment the skills they learned at CUNY Law.

There has been much debate on the benefit of blending a not-for-profit mission with a for-profit bottom line. Traditionally not-for-profit organizations have faced the challenge of raising money through gifts, whether those gifts are through members, government agencies or foundations. Charitable giving represents 2% of the national Gross Domestic Product, and has for many years.   As fundraising for gifts becomes more difficult every year, many non-profits have attempted to include a for-profit enterprise to supplement the charitable organization’s mission.

The not-for-profit board of directors must insure the organization’s mission and public purpose is followed. The organization is not permitted to engage in activities that do not adhere to the public purpose and mission detailed in its certificate of incorporation. This purpose is the foundation upon which the IRS grants its federal income tax exemption. When incorporating a money-making enterprise into a charitable organization’s mission, Boards of Directors must consider issues like conflicts of interests, private inurement, private benefit, duty of care and duty of loyalty.

These Panelists address these issues everyday. Whether as General Counsel or Board Director, these attorneys have addressed the concerns of supporting the public interest while creating sustainable, socially innovative companies.

Maggie is an associate at Patel Law LLP.  Maggie serves as general counsel to several not-for-profits.  She also advises social enterprise organizations on formation and governance issues. Maggie graduated from CUNY Law School in 2010

Elena Volkova is the founding member of Roizin & Volkova Law Group PLLC, a Manhattan law firm serving the legal needs of local businesses, non-profits and families. Elena is currently a member of the Incubator for Justice.

Karen Gargamelli graduated from CUNY School of Law, Class of 2007. Karen is a founding member of Common Law.

Michele Lampach has dedicated her professional career to advocating for and representing immigrant rights. Michele founded UnLocal, Inc. to serve undocumented individuals living in New York City.  Michele is a 2010 graduate of CUNY Law School and current member of the Incubator for Justice.

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