Pro bono

Many companies donate to local causes, but for Calfee, Halter & Griswold, writing a check is often not as useful as writing a brief.

In fact, nonprofits need legal advice and services almost as much as for-profit organizations do.

“Government regulations every day are getting more complex for both nonprofit and public companies,” says Thomas McKee, partner at Calfee, Halter & Griswold. “We provide services that help the bottom line … at the least cost basis. We have lawyers that specialize in most areas. And even with a nonprofit, there are always employment issues, personnel issues, HIPAA regulations and a number of other day-to-day operational things.”

Calfee, Halter & Griswold has a longstanding philanthropic tradition and recently its staff was called upon to help maneuver through a number of legal and financial issues regarding Achievement Centers for Children’s (ACC) capital campaign. Besides making $50,000 in cash contributions to ACC over the past seven years, the firm clocked more than $30,000 worth of hours of pro bono work in 2001 alone.

“We’ve ramped up our work with ACC the last few years, but to be honest, we had no idea what we were getting into,” says McKee.

What it got into was a land purchase from the city of Cleveland that took 18 months to negotiate and a complex analysis of the best financing structure for the new building.

“All these (nonprofit) organizations have to live within their means, and we are trying to help out. There are limited resources because of the economy and especially within this region … the number of people that use these services has grown dramatically.”

Regardless of whether the law firm’s staff is building a house for Habitat for Humanity or doing what it does best — practicing law – the results are the same.

“At the end of the day, it is whatever you can do, whether it’s cleaning up the (ACC) camp or cash contributions,” says McKee. “We all get a great deal of satisfaction for doing their part.” How to reach: Calfee, Halter & Griswold, (216) 622-8420 or