The Charities and Not-for-Profit Group at Miller Thomson has an unparalleled knowledge of the voluntary sector and organizations working within it. Our advice is tailored to the unique nature of issues in this sector and is designed to provide practical solutions for problems as they arise. This approach makes us one of the leading national law firms in representing the interests of charitable and non-profit organizations in Canada and internationally.
Our clients range from the largest charities in Canada to smaller organizations, and includes universities, colleges, schools, church and other religious groups, hospitals, social agencies, environmental groups, trade and professional associations.
We provide voluntary sector organizations with services designed to meet all of their needs. The role we assume is either that of a General Counsel (available to provide an organization with access to a broad range of services and support from other key practices at Miller Thomson), or that of a Special Counsel who provides specialized charity law assistance together with the organization’s usual legal counsel.
Specifically, we act as counsel to charities, not-for-profit organizations and other professionals on:
- Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec compliance advice
- Church, education and health charity law
- Defence and administration of charitable bequests
- Defence of vicarious liability claims
- Directors’ and trustees’ duties and liabilities
- Foreign operations of registered charities
- Fundamental changes such as mergers, continuations, reorganizations and wind-ups
- Fundraising issues and charitable gaming
- General legal matters including real estate, employment and intellectual property matters
- Incorporation, organization and registration of charities
- Planned giving
- Risk management
The regulatory environment in which voluntary sector organizations operate is undergoing significant change, ranging from increased oversight by federal and provincial authorities to increased compliance burdens on organizations. This evolving landscape, together with the ever-increasing public scrutiny, means organizations need easy access to practical, timely and effective legal advice.
We have provided value-added legal services in a variety of recent engagements:
- Establishing and advising the donor advised fund charities in Canada
- Advising small and large charities and NPOs under Canada Revenue Agency audit
- Advising social entrepreneurs on mixed purpose structures
- Establishing relations between Canadian charities and affiliated foreign charities
- Advising advocacy organizations on political activity limits
- Registering national Canadian charities with Revenu Québec
- Merging chapters of a national organization into one entity
Our lawyers are also encouraged to participate and give back to the community. Many volunteer on governmental committees and with umbrella organizations working to improve the sustainability and viability of the sector. This affords us with a unique opportunity to ensure our clients’ issues are front and centre. This type of experience also provides us with another opportunity to understand the issues our clients respond to every day.