Barbara Murphy chairs the Farella Exempt Organizations practice. She advises individuals and families on comprehensive tax planning – income, gift and estate – with a special emphasis on philanthropic planning. Barbara has extensive experience representing charitable organizations, including private foundations and public charities, with endowments ranging from several million to a billion dollars.

In her trusts and estates practice, Barbara counsels clients on estate planning, estate and gift taxation, income tax planning and income taxation, charitable gift planning, trust and estate administration, and compliance review of individual, trust, gift, and estate tax returns. She has successfully represented many individuals and families in audits before the IRS and the FTB, as well as numerous state taxing authorities across the country.

Her exempt organization practice focuses on all aspects of charitable organizations, including entity formation and exemptions, business planning, grant strategies and agreements, governance, regulatory compliance matters, and both mergers and dissolutions. In this role, Barbara’s work encompasses an exceptionally broad range of responsibilities, beginning at the very inception of the entity, where she counsels clients on the foundation of the organization, as well as developing internal procedures and processes, including governance, financial and operational structures, employment policies (including compensation issues), corporate restructuring, real estate transactions, negotiation of contracts, and more. In effect, she fills the same role as the general counsel of a corporation, but with the added complexity of the requirements for compliance with federal and state law applicable to nonprofits and their fundraising activities.

Barbara’s clients value her ability to evaluate their situations strategically, and to look at the facts and law from multiple sides. She excels at uncovering creative solutions to seemingly intractable challenges, as well as anticipating problems. Barbara’s true gift is her ability to  educate clients by making complex issues simple. Finally, in a field which is typically dry and highly technical, Barbara’s clients simply enjoy working with her. One high-profile Bay Area nonprofit demonstrated this by literally dubbing her the Queen of Tax Lawyers and presenting her with a crown.


  • The Legal 500 United States 2016 and 2017 Not-for Profit practice area
  • Best Lawyers in America in the area of Nonprofit/Charities Law

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member, President Emeritas,  San Francisco Estate Planning Council
  • Member, Board of Directors, Northern California Planned Giving Council
  • Vice Chair, California Pacific Medical Center Foundation Planned Giving Council
  • Member, American Cancer Society, Inc. San Francisco Advisory Board
  • Member, St. Raymond Catholic Church Pastoral Council
  • Member, Women's Impact Network Committee