Just like private companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) face legal issues both in their work and their structure. While these issues can be presented as they arise to a legal clearinghouse or a law firm, sometimes the less urgent legal problems take a backseat, and deeper issues go undetected until a major problem arises. Addressing such issues at an early stage ensures compliance with the law and helps organizations to operate as effectively as possible.
To address this challenge, White & Case worked pro bono with Advocates for International Development (A4ID), an NGO and legal clearinghouse focused on sustainable development, to develop the A4ID Legal Health Check, a tool that a law firm can use to help an NGO identify the legal issues it faces.
The Legal Health Check explores in-depth an organization’s everyday functioning and any related issues. It covers a wide range of issues from structure and governance to tax, risk management and compliance. Since its launch, we have used it with pro bono NGO clients in London, New York and Germany. Having been piloted by White & Case, it is now available for use by other law firms—a scalable innovation that goes beyond the scope of our own pro bono legal work.
A big advantage of the Legal Health Check is that it can be used both by existing NGOs to identify issues and by startups to help them get things right at the outset and ensure that they are sustainable both in the immediate and longer term. And it can be used by large organizations whose activities cross borders, as well as smaller organizations located in one jurisdiction.
NGOs have few resources to waste. The Legal Health Check guides them and their legal advisors in using their resources efficiently and legally, maximizing their ability to reach their goals and minimizing the legal and operational risks they face in doing so.