Posted by: washingtonlawyers | July 24, 2008

July 17, 2008 Discussion Summary

Seven of us met last Thursday, July 17, hosted by Cliff Villa at the Office of the Regional Counsel for EPA. Those who participated were: Stoney Bird, Whole Energy Fuels (by teleconference) Eileen Carrel, SU Law Alexandra Filutowski, Wiener, Lambka, Deutscher (by teleconference) David Frankel, Law Office of David R. Frankel, interim coordinator Cat Reny, SU Law Shane Robinson, attorney Cliff Villa, EPA

We welcome participation by others at future meetings. Please forward this message to colleagues and friends who you think would like to participate, and ask them to contact me and cc Cliff Villa ( The next regular meeting will be at noon on Thursday, August 21. We will send out a reminder notice closer to the date.

Discussion Summary

Nonprofit legal entity formation

After introductions, we discussed the pros and cons of incorporating Washington Lawyers for Sustainability as a Washington nonprofit corporation. This topic had previously been researched and analyzed by Erin Watanabe Croman, and discussed at our last meeting in April. We concluded that the advantages of having legal status in carrying out our mission, including the perpetual existence of a distinct entity, increased visibility and credibility in dealing with other organizations and the public, and the ability to raise funds and maintain a bank account, greatly outweighed the minor ministerial duties involved in organizing and maintaining the corporate entity. Those in attendance unanimously approved incorporating as a Washington nonprofit, and taking Erin up on her offer to handle the incorporation, if she is still willing to do so.

As a nonprofit corporation, WLS will need officers and directors. If you are interested in serving in any capacity, please let me know at your earliest convenience.

We noted that WLS will need to consider the question of who is a member of the organization and what formal requirements, if any, should be imposed. We agreed that in general, we should keep any barriers to participating in WLS meetings and events fairly low, but that a substantially higher degree of commitment will be required from those who wish to help run the organization.

Tax exempt status

We then turned to the related question of obtaining tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization. Again, we concluded that the benefits outweighed the burdens, and that we should apply for tax exempt status for WLS as soon as practicable following its incorporation. Cat Reny volunteered to research the duties of the treasurer of a tax exempt nonprofit, including the specific question of whether there is any potential individual liability to the IRS on the part of the nonprofit’s financial officer for any potential violation of IRS regulations.

Speakers series

We then took up discussion of appropriate format, topics and audience for the speakers series we had agreed at prior meeting that WLS should launch. Alexandra Filutowski offered to prepare and circulate a an online survey to everyone on our list to get input about what is interesting, feasible and worthwhile for them to attend. The survey will be your opportunity to tell us what you think about what format (length, time of day, venue, etc.) is most convenient; whether to focus presentations narrowly on topics of direct legal relevance (for which CLE credit might be available) or include wider context topics (science, policy, perspectives from other professions), too; and who our audience should be (i.e., just WLS “members”, attorneys and/or other legal professionals, general public). Alexandra expects to be circulating the survey within the next week or so. We urge you to take a few moments to respond so we can plan events with the greatest benefit to you.

Finally, because it has been a few months since our last regular meeting, I am attaching the discussion summary from our March “2020 Vision Retreat”, at which we discussed education and training possibilities and the role of lawyers in fostering sustainability in greater depth. Please email me with any questions and your suggestions for officers and directors; and please forward this message to others who would be interested in participating.

Best regards,

David Frankel,

Interim Coordinator


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