Vedder Price provides a broad array of legal services to trade and professional associations of all sizes.
You can expect to work with attorneys who understand and have practical experience with the ever-broadening legal issues that impact associations; standard-setting, certification and accreditation bodies; and a wide array of not-for-profit organizations, including private foundations and public charities. We focus not only on helping you anticipate and prevent legal challenges, but also on developing innovative practices that support your growth and membership.
Broad trade and professional association credentials. Our clients range in size from small local or regional organizations to large international organizations that are managed in a variety of ways, from companies with large in-house executive staffs to multi-management firms to corporations with direct administration by unpaid volunteer members.
Please find greater detail on our capabilities below.
Antitrust and Trade Regulation
A prerequisite for association representation is a strong foundation in the antitrust laws. We have successfully represented association clients in major antitrust litigation in court and before administrative agencies, defending challenges to codes of ethics, standard-setting and accreditation programs, membership criteria and interactions with competing providers.
We place particular emphasis on avoiding potential antitrust risks through ongoing counseling related to business practices and development of effective compliance programs. We work with a variety of trade and professional groups to adopt and administer formal antitrust compliance programs. In addition to drafting written policies and procedures, we help educate staff, train compliance officers on internal monitoring and audit procedures, and counsel management on responding to material compliance concerns that arise.
Learn more about our Antitrust and Trade Regulation services.
Employee Benefit, Employment and Labor Relations Services
Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits: Together with attorneys from Vedder Price’s nationally known Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits practice, we assist trade and professional associations with design and implementation of executive compensation programs, including 457(b) deferred compensation plans and 457(f) plans, through which not-for-profit organizations may establish tax-deferred plans with funding in excess of normal defined contribution limits. We prepare or assist with preparation of Internal Revenue Service filings and disclosure statements and meet with plan actuaries and trustees. In addition, we consult with clients concerning employment and severance agreements, supplemental retirement plans, tax-sheltered annuities and other benefit programs for executives and key personnel.
Learn more about our Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits services.
Employment and Labor Relations Services: We assist clients in negotiating and structuring employment agreements with executive officers and other key personnel. Our firm is well known for its labor relations experience and services, and we are well versed in counseling associations and not-for-profit organizations with respect to matters affecting hiring and termination of employees.
In addition, we assist with the review and development of personnel policy manuals and employee handbooks and with various immigration matters, including obtaining work authorizations and ensuring compliance with applicable laws.
Learn more about our Employment and Labor Relations services.
We understand the governance and fiduciary principles affecting not-for-profit organizations, including conflict-of-interest issues. Our attorneys can prepare or assist with preparation and implementation of conflict-of-interest policies and procedures, record retention and whistle-blower policies. In addition, we are well trained in developing bylaws that appropriately shape an organization’s structure.
Insurance Law Services
We provide counsel with respect to establishing group insurance programs of various types and sizes, including negotiating agreements with carriers, administrators and brokers. We also provide counsel on the tax implications of sponsored insurance programs. In addition, we can advise on establishment of captive insurance companies and risk retention and purchasing groups pursuant to the Risk Retention Act of 1986.
Learn more about our Insurance services.
Intellectual Property Services
Our attorneys regularly prepare and prosecute applications to register various types of trademarks and service marks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in individual states. Our experience in copyright law includes filing and prosecuting claims to copyright on printed publications, computer software, audiovisual materials and other copyrightable works as well as the negotiation of website developer agreements and licensing agreements. We have extensive involvement in all phases of trademark and unfair-competition litigation, as well as prosecution and defense of copyright claims.
Learn more about our Intellectual Property services.
Meeting and Convention Services
We review and negotiate contracts between associations and convention hotels and convention centers. In addition, we advise clients on convention prospectuses, exhibitor rules and regulations, relationships between exhibitors and official convention decorators, eligibility of exhibitors to participate and potential liability for permitting certain types of exhibits.
Our attorneys work with associations and their boards and membership committees in understanding the legal implications of the membership process, including developing procedural rules, membership policies and codes of ethics. We regularly conduct hearings to address violations of an association’s code of ethics and to review the qualifications of rejected applicants.
Publication Activities Services
We prepare, review, negotiate and interpret publishing agreements for trade and association clients that maintain newsletters, journals and other publications. In addition, we advise clients on publication-related matters, including mailing-privilege issues, libel issues, disclaimers, copyrights and issues arising from acceptance or rejection of advertisements.
Standard and Accreditation Setting Services
We work with certification boards, licensing agencies and accrediting bodies to develop and implement testing and evaluation programs that satisfy antitrust, due process and testing requirements. We also assist with establishing standard-setting and certification programs, either through the association or a separate controlled entity.
Our attorneys have substantial experience with requirements for obtaining and maintaining exemption under Section 501(c)(3), Section 501(c)(4) and Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code. We address private inurement issues, unrelated-business-income issues, reasonable-compensation and intermediate-sanction issues as well as issues involving association-sponsored charitable and educational foundations and wholly owned for-profit subsidiaries.
Our attorneys also understand and provide counsel with respect to private foundation regulations, including grant making, excess business holdings and prohibitions against self-dealing.
Learn more about our Tax services.