Nonprofit & Religious Organizations Litigation


OUR Practice
Highly regarded as a trusted adviser and advocate for nonprofit and religious organizations, Stradley Ronon addresses the challenges and removes the obstacles that prevent nonprofits from achieving their missions. We represent tax-exempt organizations of all stripes – religious and secular colleges and universities, charter schools and other educational institutions, health care and social services agencies, and others serving the community – regarding the myriad legal issues that arise throughout their lifecycle.

Our practice is regional, national and international in terms of clients and reach. Working collaboratively with Meritas, a professional global alliance, we serve nonprofits worldwide. At the same time, we recognize that each client is unique and tailor our approach to help serve that client with its problems, now.

Experienced at the trial and appellate levels in state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, our trial attorneys regularly litigate complex commercial matters, employment-related matters, civil rights cases and constitutional appeals. We have successfully tried cases before judges, juries, arbitrators and administrative officers, and have protected our clients’ constitutional rights from government encroachment. We also routinely prepare amicus curiae briefs when our clients’ interests are implicated in litigation involving other parties.

Alternative Dispute Resolution
When traditional litigation is not the best solution, alternative dispute resolution – especially mediation – can be a powerful tool in resolving disputes early, cost effectively and fairly. As one of the few law firms in the nation with a designated ADR practice, we are skilled at resolving disputes through ADR. In fact, The CPR International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution awarded Stradley its inaugural Law Firm Award for Excellence in Alternative Dispute Resolution, for our “commitment to principled and creative conflict-management and resolution.”

Read more about our experience assisting nonprofit and religious organizations.



Representative Matters

  • Defended religious organizations’ right of self-governance in litigation and regulatory matters
  • Advised many religious organizations regarding federal laws including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)
  • Examined potential risk exposure of churches and other charities to liability claims and recommended structural, administrative and/or management changes to minimize exposure
  • Defended nonprofit and religious entities in internal investigations into compliance with government grants and programs
  • Advised and defended religious employers under the First Amendment against potential claims – anti-discrimination, contract, personal injury and defamation – by persons in positions of ministry
  • Investigated, advised and defended religious organizations and nonprofits in matters arising from employee misconduct
  • Defended religious charities in state Charities Bureau investigations
  • Defended religious organizations regarding zoning issues in the trial and appellate courts including the state Supreme Court
  • Defended a Catholic health system’s ability to follow the church’s “Ethical and Religious Directives” against charges the directive violated a standard of care
  • Defended statutory exemptions for religious entities under ERISA
  • Defended against Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state agency complaints raising church-state issues over internal church employment practices and application of public accommodations laws to private religious institutions
  • Argued against retroactive application of new limitations period for civil claims as unconstitutional in state trial and appellate courts including the state Supreme Court
  • Counseled numerous nonprofits and religious organizations regarding vulnerable persons, including:
    • Conducted internal investigations
    • Evaluated and assessed cases for settlement opportunities
    • Defended against abuse allegations
    • Developed policies regarding abuse and employee misconduct
    • Provided educational seminars and training
  • Represented religiously affiliated organizations in investigations conducted by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration
  • Examined potential risk exposure of church to liability claims and recommended structural, administrative and/or management changes to minimize exposure
  • Represented religious organizations in seeking real estate tax exemptions and reductions, and successfully defended significant transfer tax exemptions
  • Negotiated a seven-figure settlement in favor of a religious secondary school in connection with an actuarial malpractice claim arising out of the mismanagement of a pension plan, in advance of the filing of a complaint and without lengthy litigation


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