Private Client

Exempt Organizations

Farella’s lawyers understand that the objectives of their clients are paramount in designing business structures, grant agreements, board governance, collaborative relationships, and business contracts that achieve their stated goals. Maximizing impact and stakeholder value are key drivers for philanthropists and the nonprofit organizations they support. 

Our nonprofit clients look for efficient and effective legal solutions to their questions and challenges, and we respond with a high-energy approach to guide our clients through the entire lifecycle of the organization—from inception to dissolution, and everything in between. Our goal is to assist these clients in all of their legal needs so that they can focus on doing their good works in their communities and throughout the world.

Proactive Advisors to All Types of Exempt Organizations

Farella provides comprehensive legal services to many of the most active and prominent nonprofit organizations in Northern California and beyond. Serving both tax-exempt and non-tax-exempt entities, we offer the competitive advantage gained from the firm’s longstanding local presence in the Napa Valley and Bay Area.

Our nonprofit lawyers look at issues from all angles, leveraging our corporate, tax and family wealth backgrounds to help clients reach their mission. We work with all types of nonprofit organizations, including community, private, family, and corporate foundations, as well as charitable trusts and public charities that range in size from several million to multiple billions of dollars in assets. The practice is not limited to charitable organizations; our expertise extends to social welfare organizations, trade associations and business groups, and other entities formed not-for-profit.

Many of our partners serve as outside general counsel for our nonprofit organizations. When requested, we can provide a complete package of services, including tax, corporate, employment, copyright and trademark, insurance, real estate, and others.

High Net Worth Charitable Planning

Farella advises philanthropists, their foundations, and their professional teams with charitable planning, including charitable remainder and lead trusts, foundation formation, income, property, estate and gift tax exemptions, grant strategies and agreements, regulatory compliance matters, and mergers and dissolutions. As we frequently represent donors, we understand the critical donor-donee relationship and all related tax implications. We work with many family office teams to integrate charitable planning with overall estate and wealth management strategies.

Meeting Evolving Challenges

Working directly with chief executives, boards of directors, and executive directors, we often help nonprofit organizations with restructuring, optimizing operations, and complying with evolving tax and charitable solicitation regulations. We help our clients to spot issues and look “around the corner” to help maximize their impact and avoid costly traps for the unwary. When our clients face unanticipated crises, such as embezzlement, employee issues, adverse publicity, or natural disasters, we bring a multidisciplinary team of nonprofit, employment, insurance, real estate and other specialists to protect our client’s interests.


Farella is widely-known for staffing nimble teams—led by one or more partners who remain actively engaged in every facet of a matter. We collaborate with financial advisors, CPAs, family office professionals, and other outside providers to understand our clients’ goals and craft solutions to fit their particular profile.

Professional Involvement and Accolades

Our commitment to our clients extends to participation in major trade groups, including the San Francisco Estate Planning Council, the Northern California Planned Giving Council, the American Bar Association Business Law Section Committee on Nonprofit Corporations, and the Society of Trust and Estate Professionals (STEP). We frequently contribute our thought leadership through speaking and writing, including co-authoring three chapters in the California CEB Treatise “Advising California Nonprofit Corporations,” and recent speaking engagements at Stanford University’s Conference on Charitable Giving, Santa Clara Law School’s Jerry A. Kasner Estate Planning Symposium and Northern California Planned Giving Council Conference.

For many years we have hosted a regular seminar series for nonprofit organizations that provides not only timely educational content but also networking opportunities for clients, lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, and other consultants with an interest in charitable organizations. 

Noting our hallmark approach to bringing all of our firm’s resources to bear for the benefit of our clients, the widely-read legal news source Law360 recognized our firm as a “California Powerhouse” in 2018. Our lawyers also regularly appear in national and California-based rankings from Chambers High Net Worth, U.S. News - Best Lawyers, and The Legal 500 United States.

Firm Highlights


52 Farella Braun + Martel Attorneys Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2021

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Eight Farella Braun + Martel Lawyers Listed in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch 2021

SAN FRANCISCO/ST. HELENA, CA, August 20, 2020: Eight Farella Braun + Martel lawyers were listed in the inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch . This recognition is awarded to attorneys who are earlier in...

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Hot Topics Facing Nonprofit Organizations and Their Advisors in 2020

Farella's Nonprofit Education Series features Cynthia Rowland and Matt Lewis discussing current issues nonprofit organizations and their advisors are facing this year. Cynthia and Matt cover: About that nest egg—when nonprofits can, and can’t, access “endowment&rdquo...

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The Art of Planning for Valuable Collections

Cynthia Rowland will speak on "The Art of Planning for Valuable Collections." Join us for a discussion of estate and philanthropic planning for art and other valuable collections. Topics to be covered include: Collection ownership and...

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Employment Law Updates for Nonprofits in the New Normal

Farella's Nonprofit Education Series features Rebecca Stephens and Jaya Bajaj discussing "Employment Law Updates for Nonprofits in the New Normal." Nonprofit organizations are subject to both state and federal employment laws and regulations. The...

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Farella Braun + Martel Ranked Among “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers

SAN FRANCISCO, November 5, 2020: Farella Braun + Martel earned national and regional rankings across a number of practice areas in the U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® release of the “Best...

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