60 Percent of Irish Charities Have No Legal Professional On Their Board

A new report by Governance charity Boardmatch Ireland and O’Connell Brennan Solicitors has revealed that 60 per cent of the not-for-profits surveyed do not have a legal professional on their Board.

The report, Charity Legal Survey 2014  is the culmination of findings from a survey carried out in December 2013 amongst 114 not-for-profit organisations.

"This finding highlights a worrying trend within the sector said Boardmatch CEO Chris White. "Now more than ever, it is essential that charities have some form of legal expertise on their Board as the public and media spotlight on the sector continues to intensify. Boardmatch currently has over 600 high-calibre legal professionals on its database looking to join a Board so the problem is not one of access or supply."

Amongst other findings, the report also revealed that 80 per cent of not-for-profits feel their main legal advisor demonstrates good value for money.

Not-for-profits are overall very satisfied with the level of service on offer according to the report, with 85 per cent of not-for-profits stating that they would recommend their main legal advisor to another organisation.

Whilst organisations are enjoying good value for money, the report shows that cost continues to be a critical issue for many.

"It will be important for legal advisors to ensure that charities are not priced out of the market for legal services in years to come, when the full burden of compliance with the Charities Act 2009 comes into sharp focus" said Cormac Brennan, Partner at O’Connell Brennan Solicitors.

Click here to download the report.

Key Findings of Survey:

  • 60 per cent of respondents have no legal professionals on their Boards
  • 85 per cent of not-for-profits would recommend their legal advisor to another not-for-profit
  • Almost 97 per cent of not-for-profits do not have an in-house legal team
  • Over 80 per cent of not-for-profits feel their main legal advisor demonstrates good value for money
  • Not-for-profits note slow response and delivery time as one of the key problems of their main legal advisor
  • Technical competence, understanding of the not-for-profit sector and fees are the three most important factors when choosing a legal advisor
  • The key areas in which not-for-profits are seeking legal advice are Employment, Contracts/ Service Level Agreements and Constitution & Governance
  • Nearly 47 per cent of not-for-profits report that the Board discusses legal issues either monthly or quarterly
  • 14 per cent state that their Boards discuss legal issues annually, and 17 per cent say that it is less frequent than this
  • Whilst almost 40 per cent said Directors were very much involved in the selection and review of legal advisors, almost 25 per cent stated that their Directors were not involved in the process.