The NonProfit Legal Assistance Project (NLAP) is a preventive strategy that includes education, preparation, and compliance, which can eliminate or lessen the risks that would otherwise threaten an agency’s Board of Directors, the agency itself, and as a result its clients, as well as the reputations of and confidence in an agency’s funders. NLAP was established as a result of discussions among community leaders, which revealed a high need to provide in-house legal counsel to non-profits in an effort to protect agencies against the threat of civil actions. Vanessa is amazing….

The Non-Profit Legal Assistance Project (NLAP) was founded by the innovative work of John Foley who for 26 years served as an invaluable resource for the nonprofit sector of Palm Beach County and beyond. Click here to learn more about John.

Vanessa Coe is an attorney in the Non Profit Legal Assistance Project where she focuses her time advising agencies on legal issues in the areas of employment law, human resources, compliance, and board governance. A graduate of Nova Southeastern Law and University of Florida, Vanessa started her career defending the rights of migrant and seasonal guest workers throughout Florida. Prior to joining the Non Profit Legal Assistance Project, Vanessa acted as the employment attorney at Legal Aid litigating on behalf of low wage workers in Palm Beach County.

Vanessa is licensed to practice in the State of Florida, Southern, Middle and Northern Districts of Florida, the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas, and the Fourth, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bio and photos of Ana and Vanessa

John grew up in Miami and graduated from the University of Miami and the University of Miami Law School.   John saw firsthand the needs of the community as a college student working as a phlebotomist at Mount Sinai during the height of the AIDS epidemic.  He continued to work at Mount Sinai during law school, graduating  in 1988.  John first practiced commercial litigation and employment law and later state and federal criminal law and appeals. He joined the Legal Aid Society in 1996 at first representing individuals with HIV/AIDS in the Ryan White Project.  Providing legal advocacy for people with HIV/AIDS allowed John to continue to serve individuals he first saw affected by the AIDS epidemic as patients at Mount Sinai.  John  considers this as some of his most meaningful work as an attorney.  He ultimately went on to manage the Ryan White Project and found the Non-Profit Legal Assistance Project.


Through NLAP, John provided advice and counsel in the areas of labor and employment law, nonprofit corporate law, and risk management and became a valuable part of the fabric of Palm Beach County and the non profit community. His impact is demonstrated in the success and growth of organizations throughout our county, including everything from start-up nonprofits to institutions with hundreds of employees. During his many years of serving the nonprofit community, John represented more than 80 agencies, served on numerous nonprofit boards, taught as an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University, and supervised and mentored the legal work of dozens of young attorneys. And of course, in John’s free time, he offered pro bono services to many other nonprofits in South Florida.


John was the recipient of many local awards including:


–          Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society’s “Human Rights Advocacy Award” for his work representing a person living with HIV who was wrongfully denied health insurance.

–          Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition “President’s Award” for his work with the Non-Profit Legal Assistance Project.

–          The “Friends of Planned Parenthood Award” by Planned Parenthood of Greater Miami, Palm Beach, and the Treasure Coast.

–          The Lord’s Place “Unsung Hero Award”

–          The Chamber of Nonprofit Health and Human Services Providers’ “Community Spirit Award for his work providing legal services to charitable organizations.

–          Nonprofits First’s “Community Hero Award”

Any visitor to John’s office saw the plaques and awards  decorating his shelves but he most prominently displayed the artwork of the children from many of the nonprofits he assisted over the years.  John has played a crucial role in many non-profit  boards and organizations and had a positive and lasting impact on countless lives through his work and representation.

NLAP Membership Benefits Summary


  • Developing, reviewing and or revising workplace policies and manuals that conform to governmental laws and regulations, in addition to various grant requirements;
  • Assist human resource personnel with legal aspects of administrative functions, such as Family and Medical Leave Act (including appropriate forms), progressive discipline processes and procedures (including forms), and other issues as needed;
  • Provide assistance and review to agencies with obtaining insurance policies, including general liability and employment liability insurance;
  • Developing, reviewing and or revising job applications and job descriptions that conform to governmental laws and regulations;
  • On-site/web-based harassment and supervisor training, and Family and Medical Leave Act training. Sessions usually last 2-4 hours for supervisors and 1 hour for general staff;
  • Assisting participating agencies with critical employment decisions such as background investigations, hiring, and termination;
  • Assisting participating agencies with compliance with various state and federal laws and regulations, including but not limited to, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (including the public accommodation provisions), COBRA, Family and Medical Leave Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Coordination of the benefits of  these laws, such as ADA, FMLA and Workers’ Compensation;
  • Addressing general risk management issues, including liability and insurance issues for general organizational operation and special events;
  • Responding to government regulations, inquiries, and complaints;
  • Risk assessment site visits and in-house training, including harassment training, supervisor training, ADA compliance, etc.; and
  • Question and Answer and Fax/E-Mail on Demand services.


The Project is available by telephone for consultation on any matter during regular business hours to answer any questions the agency may have.  This service is available to any individual or individuals the executive director designates, and agencies may use this service as often as they need to without regard for additional cost.  Agencies may also request information, forms or legal opinions by fax or e-mail.

  • NLAP Trainings List

    • General Equal Employment Opportunity Laws (EEO)
    • Mandated Reporting Requirements (Child and Vulnerable Adult Abuse)
    • Confidentiality and HIPAA
    • Understanding the Fair Labor Standards Act
    • Harassment/Bullying in the Workplace
    • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    • Legal and Effective Interviewing
    • Developing and Implementing Effective Employee Evaluations
    • Employee Discipline and Termination
    • Avoiding Workplace Violence
    • Incident Response and Documentation
    • Coping with Downsizing and Layoffs
    • Legal Basics of Diversity and Cultural Competence
    • Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

    Additional Trainings

    Additional trainings not listed above or other customized trainings are available upon request.