Jess is the owner of Birken Law Office PLLC, a boutique law firm serving nonprofits and charitable entities with their compliance and operational issues. Jess empowers nonprofits to achieve their mission by doing things right. She connects clients with the right tools, right coaching and right contacts. Ms. Birken is a nationally recognized attorney both for her service and understanding of the nonprofit & charitable sector as well as for her innovative subscription based law firm model. Listen to Jess' podcast Charity Therapy on your favorite podcast player.
BA, Sociology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
JD, Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Magna Cum Laude
MA, Nonprofit Management, Hamline University School of Business
Ms. Birken is the former CEO & Managing Partner at Urban Birken PLLC, a boutique firm that focused on serving the nonprofit community and started her own firm in 2016. Jess has extensive non-legal experience working inside nonprofit organizations for most of her career prior to law school as well as after attaining her masters.
Before becoming a private practice attorney, Ms. Birken served inside a mid-sized national nonprofit organization, Pheasants Forever. In that role she managed ~$50,000,000 in state and federal government grants and worked on hundreds of conservation real estate transactions. Jess is deeply experienced in the reality of federal grants management across the entire life cycle. Ms. Birken has a deep understanding of the norms and best practices of the nonprofit sector, as well as the legal and regulatory environment these organizations exist within. This expertise was developed through her academic work obtaining a Masters in Nonprofit Management, in the work environment and through private practice experience.
When starting a new nonprofit, most founders are focused on their mission. Who are they going to be? What kind of work will they do? What impact are they going to make? But those aren’t the only things nonprofit founders need to decide. They also need to decide on the structure of the nonprofit and how it will function, too.
Here’s the thing: I wish my clients understood that a nonprofit's public charity status is NOT everything. It might be necessary and important, sure. It helps communicate to donors that the nonprofit is a public charity....But it’s certainly not the end-all, be-all of a successful nonprofit.
Working with nonprofit organizations, I deal with a LOT of people problems. And it makes sense, right? When you ask a group of people passionate about a cause (aka, the board of directors) to come together to make collective decisions…disagreements and confrontations are inevitable.
Feeding Our Future (FOF) was a Minnesota food assistance nonprofit that was awarded millions in federal grant funds in the past few years. FOF passed those funds through to other small organizations and businesses to provide food to children, primarily BIPOC and immigrant children in the Twin Cities and beyond.
So, what does this have to do with nonprofits, you ask? Well, as a lawyer for nonprofits, I've seen lots of organizations go through the process of selecting new leaders – and not all of them do it right, especially when an insider is involved. This Jeopardy host situation reminded me of those cases.
Dissolution can be a happy occasion (yay, we accomplished our mission!) or it can be very sad and emotional. But no matter what brings a nonprofit to that point, the decision to dissolve is a big one. And, to the surprise of some folks, that decision is just the very beginning of what can be a very long process
As schools are called off for the rest of the year, toilet paper flies off the shelves, and shelter-in-place orders are announced, anxieties are high. Everyone is worried about money, jobs, health, how to stay sane in the coming weeks – or at least I'm pretty sure it's not just me! And then there's another layer of worry – the worry that comes with running a small nonprofit in the midst of an international crisis.
Lately I've been noticing a lot of chatter on the internet about how you know which charities to donate to. There seems to be a general suspicion that nonprofits of all sizes who are seeking donations are swindling people out of their hard-earned money. Or at least that you can't trust these organizations and that it's easy to make the wrong decision.
I work with a lot of nonprofit founders, and all of them have a certain kind of pride in their work. And they should! Lots of people have ideas, but there's not that many people out there who are willing to put their time, effort, knowledge, and money into it. We need entrepreneurial founders in the nonprofit sector.
The reality is, starting and running a nonprofit is more than just the mission-driven work. Taking the time to understand the organizing documents, the Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws, will help the organization going forward.
Attorney, Lawrence H. Jacobson, has been practicing in the area of Real Estate Transaction Law and Litigation for more than 50 years. Over the past 30 years, he has been sought out as an expert witness in real estate and legal malpractice disputes and lawsuits in litigation cases throughout the country.
His firm, The Law Offices of Lawrence H. Jacobson, A Professional Corporation, is recognized as one of the nation's premier offices providing expert testimony in litigation involving all Real Estate Matters and Legal Malpractice.
Mr. Jacobson has been engaged in the practice of law in Los Angeles since 1968. Formerly Vice President of Legal Affairs for the California Association of Realtors, Mr. Jacobson has served as a judge pro tem for the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Municipal Court Systems and as an adjunct professor of law focusing on real estate secured transactions and administrative law. He is Past President of the Beverly Hills Bar Association. He has written and lectured extensively on business and real estate related matters. He has served on the faculty of the Graduate Realtors Institute of the California Association of Realtors and a lecturer author for the California Continuing Education of the California Bar.
Litigation Support - Mr. Jacobson offers an impressive record of success as an expert witness in real estate, business, and finance. Included among the numerous cases in which he has testified as an expert witness are disputes over the interpretation of real estate documents, real estate and mortgage brokers’ standard of care and legal malpractice related to real estate transactions and business law including issues involved in corporate finance, merger and acquisition and ethics.
The tenancy-in-common (TIC) has survived into modern times as a method of concurrent ownership of real property. In a TIC, each owner is referred to as a tenant-in-common, and each owns a fractional interest of real property under a separate distinct title.1 TIC's are common where the co-owners are not married or have contributed different amounts to the acquisition of a property.2 Insofar as each tenant-in-common owns an undivided interest in the entire property, each is entitled to an undivided interest in the revenues from the property, subject to the rights of the other co-tenants.
A lawyer who is also an expert witness should be mindful that although he or she may not always be wearing his or her "lawyer hat," it is never far away. Although the California Rules of Professional Conduct do not place specific restrictions on practitioners who act as both lawyers and expert witnesses, the rules governing lawyers' conduct generally place constraints on lawyers' activities in other businesses and professions. See California State Bar Ethics Opinion No. 1995-14. Of particular importance are the rules relating to advertising, lawyer-client confidences, competence, fee arbitration, and conflicts of interest.
Although many articles have been written about the use of the expert witness in litigation, almost all are written by lawyers and rarely by an expert witness who is also a lawyer. Having practiced law since 1968 in the area of real estate and business transactions with a real estate broker's license since 1978, I have testified frequently as an expert witness in litigation involving the interpretation of real estate documents, the standard of care of real estate brokers, in legal malpractice actions involving real estate and business transactions and in legal fee disputes. As such, I thought it would be helpful to litigators handling real estate litigation matters to have the perspective of an expert witness on issues affecting the choice, usage and cross-examination of an expert witness in such litigation.
Jeffrey Ketchum, CRA, is an Executive Recruiter and Executive CompensationConsultant with 28 years of executive level (C-level, VP & Director) search consulting experience for small, middle market and Fortune 500 companies. He has global executive research experience in North America, South & Central America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region.
Mr. Ketchum's expertise is in leadership advisory, strategic talent planning, succession planning, executive talent attraction, executive compensation, management appraisal & executive assessment, and executive & managerial development. He has personally completed 200 engagements focused on executive recruiting, executive marketability, executive compensation and executive assessment (skills, competencies, experiences, performance).
Mr. Ketchum is a Graduate of Cornell University's Advanced Program for Executive Search & Leadership Consulting. He is AESC Certified Researcher/Associate (CRA) through the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants, the official representative of the industry to the US Government and European Commission.
Litigation Support - Mr. Ketchum is available for select expert witness engagements, consulting (non-testifying), strategy, and litigation support. He asseses executive experience, skills, and performance for divorce, negligence, personal injury cases (future lost earning capacity or wage loss), shareholder suits, whistleblower and wrongful termination cases. He opines on issues related to executive earning capacity, executive employability, executive job search analysis, and (un)reasonable compensation.
As an Executive Recruiting and Executive Compensation expert witness, cases may include:
The career path, opportunities, and compensation plaintiff would likely have had if not injured;
Whether an individual used reasonable efforts to find substantially equivalent employment;
The long-term impact on an individuals career because of an employment termination;
Whether defendant was negligent in vetting candidates which contributed to damages