Jacob L. Zerkle

Senior Associate

Overview

Jacob devotes his practice to meeting the legal and tax needs of charitable organizations so they can focus on serving the city of Chicago and beyond. He helps public charities, private foundations, religious organizations, and family offices navigate the complex laws governing exempt organizations, manage their day-to-day operational needs, and plan for strategic change and organizational growth.

His experience includes:

  • Guiding nonprofit organizations and their founders through entity formation and the initial planning process, developing appropriate governance documents, policies, and procedures, and obtaining federal and state tax exemptions.
  • Drafting and negotiating grant agreements for grantor and grantee organizations, providing advice throughout the negotiation process, and recommending changes that are essential to the goals and mission of each organization.
  • Advising public charities, private foundations, and donor-advised funds regarding grants to diverse grantees, such as foreign organizations, fiscal sponsors, non-501(c)(3) organizations, and individuals.
  • Conducting due diligence on grantee organizations, including by reviewing grant proposals, verifying public charity and private foundation status, and reviewing websites and other publicly available information.
  • Advising organizations concerning compliance with applicable tax laws, including private foundation rules on self-dealing, private benefit/inurement, scholarships, lobbying, and political activity and maintaining tax-exempt, public charity, or private operating foundation status.
  • Reviewing and revising corporate documents, including articles of incorporation, bylaws, conflict of interest policies, and committee charters, for compliance with state law and to incorporate best practices.
  • Advising organizations concerning compliance with applicable state and federal tax laws, including rules related to charitable registration and solicitation, UPMIFA, and IRS charitable gift acknowledgments.
  • Reviewing Forms 990 and 990-PF for presentational issues, including items that may draw unwanted attention from the IRS.

Prior to joining Michael Best, Jacob worked in the Tax Exempt Organizations Group of another AmLaw 200 firm.

Honors & Recognitions

  • Illinois Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars, Nonprofit, 2020-2022

Professional Activities

  • Committee Chair, Exempt Organizations Division, Chicago Bar Association

Education

Bar Admission

Community Involvement

  • Volunteer, Upwardly Global
  • Volunteer, Fixed Abode
  • Member, Calvary Memorial Church
  • Volunteer, Legal Services Corporation, Rural Justice Task Force

Education

Bar Admission

Community Involvement

  • Volunteer, Upwardly Global
  • Volunteer, Fixed Abode
  • Member, Calvary Memorial Church
  • Volunteer, Legal Services Corporation, Rural Justice Task Force
back to top