Jerry is the ‘Dean’ of nonprofit organization legal counselors in the U.S.
—A longtime client

Jerald Jacobs, Pillsbury’s Nonprofit Organizations practice leader, counsels and advocates for trade associations, professional societies, charities, veterans’ organizations, and scientific and educational societies.

Recognized by Best Lawyers (2009 – present) and the American Bar Association as a leader in his field, Jerry assists all kinds and sizes of nonprofit organizations in governance, transactions, mergers, disputes, tax exemption, global operations and legislative and regulatory issues. He is general counsel to the “association of associations,” the ASAE. Jerry is the author of a dozen books on nonprofit law, including the standard in the field, Association Law Handbook, now in its sixth edition.

Representative Experience

  • Led team advising a 400,000-member, national-licensed accountants society in a combination with a non-U.S. organization, resulting in a 600,000-member worldwide professional organization with a budget exceeding $500 million.
  • First-chaired antitrust lawsuits for a small retailers’ association against each of its largest suppliers, resulting in 10-year consent orders against all suppliers and more than $25 million in settlement payments.
  • Led team representing a veterans’ organization in developing a VA-approved program to provide furniture and housewares to formerly homeless veterans, including federal legislation encouraging funding of the program.

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  • Merged two major national trade associations in the financial services industry, each with competing programs and complex structures, into one large association.
  • Represented a major national trade association of retailers in plaintiffs’ class action antitrust litigation resulting in a multibillion-dollar settlement, including extensive prospective transaction relief.
  • Assisted a national cause organization in developing a sequence of endorsed products and services used by millions of members, with the programs conforming to federal income tax exemption requirements.
  • Created the structure and vehicle for a membership organization-owned investment company that is marketed to consumers.
  • Assisted a national trade association in the entertainment industry in negotiating two joint ventures to conduct industry exhibitions, one in Europe and one in Asia.
  • Combined two professional societies of corporate executives into one, overcoming an extended proxy battle to obtain the necessary membership approval in one of the societies.
  • Assisted a national medical specialty society in amending federal patent law to preclude enforcement of patents on medical or surgical procedures unrelated to pharmaceuticals or devices.
  • Merged the 50 separate state chapters of a major federated health charity into the national organization.
  • On a pro bono basis, merged a national arts organization for the handicapped into the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Created a limited liability company to provide information to consumers and to governments on the good standing of licensed professionals in the financial services industry.
  • Advised an automobile industry association on the development of voluntary industry safety and performance standards for automobile repair.
  • Brought litigation on behalf of a national professional certification organization against a vendor of testing administration services, resulting in monetary and injunctive relief.
  • Prepared a brief amicus curiae to achieve an appellate court decision favorable to the constituency of a professional scientific society.
  • Advised a national association of specialty physicians on code of ethics enforcement criteria and procedures addressing members’ expert testimony in tort litigation.
  • Assisted a large national trade association in recruiting a new chief executive officer by offering benefits effectively replicating those of a business corporation.
  • Combined five separate national organizations in an amateur sport into one major entity with three million members and five thousand state and local chapters.

Professional Highlights

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers (published by BL Rankings LLC), Non-Profit/Charities Law (2009 – 2024).
  • Named “Outstanding Nonprofit Attorney” by the American Bar Association, the first for an attorney advising nonprofit membership organizations.
  • Responsible for a dozen books on nonprofit organization law, including Association Law Handbook, Sixth Edition (2018), Certification and Accreditation Law Handbook, Third Edition (2016), Legal Duties for Directors (2014), and The Legal Guide to Nonprofit Mergers & Joint Ventures (2011).

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District of Columbia Bar Association

American Bar Association


Association Law Handbook: A Practical Guide for Associations, Societies, and Charities (Author), Sixth Edition published by ASAE, 2012; available at and; earlier editions published by the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.

Certification and Accreditation Law Handbook, Third Edition, published by ASAE, 2016; available at and

Legal Duties for Directors: An Association Board Member’s Guide to Avoiding Risk While Advancing the Mission, published by ASAE, 2014; available at and

The Legal Guide to Nonprofit Mergers & Joint Ventures, published by ASAE, 2011; available at and Author.

Guide to Nonprofit Corporate Governance in the Wake of Sarbanes-Oxley (Contributor), published by the American Bar Association Section of Business Law, 2005. Contributor.

Associations & the Law, published by ASAE, 2003. Editor and contributor.

Nonprofit Governance and Management, published by the American Bar Association and American Society of Corporate Secretaries, 2002. Contributor.

Planning Your Career in Association Management, published by ASAE , 2002. Contributor.

The Evils of Excess in the Nonprofit World, published by the American Bar Association Section of Business Law, 1999. Contributor.

Taking the Lead: A How-To Report on Six Key Issues Facing Today’s CEO, published by ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership, 1999. Contributor.

Conducting International Meetings, published by Greater Washington Society of Association Executives, 1993. Contributor.

Federal Lobbying Handbook, Second Edition published by ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership, 1992; the First Edition was published in 1989 by the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. Editor and contributor.

Current Principles and Practices in Association Self-Regulation, published by ASAE, 1992. Author of Introduction.

A Bibliography of Association Management Literature, published by Washington Association Research Foundation, 1990. Contributor.


  • J.D., Georgetown University Law Center

    A.B., Georgetown University


  • District of Columbia


  • U.S. Supreme Court

    U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit