Attorney Profile

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JOEL S. CORWIN has practiced business law since becoming a member of the bar in 1974 and has represented associations since 1981. In 1992 Mr. Corwin left his partnership at Jenner & Block to form his own law firm where he works with association and other nonprofit and business clients in a variety of contexts. Previously he practiced at Sidley & Austin and another smaller law firm.

He is a member of the Bar of the States of California and Illinois. Mr. Corwin’s broad experience in nonprofit and business law is reflected in the descriptions under the Practice Areas page of this site.

Mr. Corwin received his B.A. from Yale University in 1971, where he was the recipient of the Gerald Robert Steinberg Memorial Scholarship Award. He attended Cornell University Law School and the University of Minnesota Law School where he earned his J.D. cum laude in 1974 and served as Managing Editor of the Minnesota Law Review.

He has been active in youth sports. He has served as basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer coach for youth leagues over a number of years. He has served as a director of youth baseball, basketball and soccer leagues, including baseball league president and regional commissioner for AYSO soccer. He is also a former member of the Executive Board of the Winnetka Caucus Council.

Mr. Corwin has received the highest rating, AV Preeminent®, under the Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings in both legal ability and general ethical standards. The Ratings are developed by soliciting confidential opinions from members of the bar and the judiciary.

He is a former two-year Chair of the Nonprofit Organizations Committee of the Business Law Section of the State Bar of California (now of the California Lawyers Association), where, as Vice-Chair, Legislation, he is active in drafting California corporate legislation benefiting associations and other nonprofits. Previously, as Vice-Chair, Policies, of the Committee, he headed up the Form 990 Policy Series Group which completed 12 memoranda for lawyers with respect to nonprofit governance policies responsive to developments in the IRS Form 990.

Mr. Corwin is a member, and a former Director, of the California Society of Association Executives (CalSAE) and is a member, and former two-year Chair, of its Legislative Committee. He has been a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and served as Co-Chair of both the 2003 and 2004 ASAE Los Angeles Legal Symposia.

He is also a member of the Chicago Bar Association where he has been the Chair of the Trade and Professional Associations Law Committee, the Corporation and Business Law Committee and the Financial Institutions Committee.

On December 8, 2010, at the Sacramento Convention Center, Mr. Corwin received the California Society of Association Executives 2010 Associate Member of the Year Award.

Mr. Corwin was the primary drafter of the amendments to Section 20 of the California Corporations Code regarding electronic transmissions by corporations to members and shareholders, effective January 1, 2010. As a member (and a Vice Chair) of the Nonprofits Committee (and a member of its Legislative Subcommittee), he introduced the changes for approval by the State Bar, which sponsored the legislation. Assembly Member Van Tran introduced the bill, AB 285, into the Legislature. Mr. Corwin testified before the California Assembly Committee on Banking and Finance in Sacramento in favor of the legislation, which passed that Committee 10-0 and eventually passed through committees as well as the Assembly and the Senate by a combined vote of 210-0 before it was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger on August 5, 2009.

He has also been a frequent speaker and author on legal topics.

Most recently, in July 2018 at the American Association of Medical Society Executives Annual Conference in San Diego Mr. Corwin was a co-presenter of an interactive program reviewing association legal scenarios and providing recent developments in the law.

In April 2017 at the CalSAE Annual Conference in Newport Beach he was a co-presenter of a program entitled “Not Judge Judy 2: Association Law Tribunal & Update.”

In September 2016, the article Mr. Corwin co-authored with James Anderson, President and CEO of CalSAE, “Achieving Governance Excellence: A Leadership Guide for the Board and CEO” appeared in the September/October 2016 issue of the CalSAE Executive magazine.

In April 2016 at the CalSAE Annual Conference in San Diego he was a co-presenter of a program entitled “Judge Judy Never Ruled on These: Situation Room – Legal” and a second program entitled “Creating a Governance Firewall: Establishing Boundaries Between Directors and Staff.”

In February 2016 Mr. Corwin provided an update on association law topics in an interactive format with association executives at a CalSAE San Diego Region program.

In January 2016 his article “Changes in California Law in 2016 – How Should Your Association Respond?” appeared in the January/February 2016 issue of the CalSAE Executive magazine.

In May 2015 his article “Changes in California Law 2015 – How Should Your Association Respond?” appeared in the May/June 2015 issue of the CalSAE Executive magazine.

In April 2015, at the CalSAE Annual Conference in Olympic Valley/North Lake Tahoe, California, Mr. Corwin presented a program entitled “Association Law for the Association Manager – An Update”.

In June 2014 he was the moderator and a speaker for the State Bar of California program entitled “Hot Topics in Nonprofit Law 2014,” for which he spoke on “New California Legislation Impacting Nonprofits.”

In May 2014 his article “Changes in California Law – How Should Your Association Respond?” appeared in the May/June 2014 issue of the CalSAE Executive magazine.

In April 2014 an article which Mr. Corwin co-authored appeared in the California State Bar Business Law News (distributed to the almost 8,800 members of the Business Law Section) entitled “2013-2014 Nonprofit Law Update” (Annual Review Issue).

In January 2014 he provided an update on association law topics in an interactive format with association executives in Los Angeles County, California.

In May 2013 an article which Mr. Corwin authored appeared in the California State Bar Business Law News entitled “2012 Nonprofit Law Update” (Annual Review Issue).

In April 2013 at the CalSAE Annual Conference in San Francisco he was a co-presenter of a program entitled “Good Governance: What Association Board Members & Executives Should Know.”

In February 2013 Mr. Corwin provided a legal update on nonprofit  law topics, including legal issues regarding social media, changes to the California Corporations Code and bylaws updates, IRS Form 990 governance matters, changes in California nonprofit raffle reporting requirements, protecting a nonprofit’s name and brand and proposed legislative changes,  in Irvine, California.

In May 2012 he was a co-presenter for the teleseminar program 2012 Hot Topics in Nonprofit Law sponsored by the Business Law Section of the State Bar of California. Mr. Corwin spoke on the topic “Raffles for California Nonprofits.”

In March 2012 at the CalSAE Annual Conference in Newport Beach Mr. Corwin presented a program entitled “Association Law Update for the Association Manager” and was a co-presenter of a second program entitled “Social Media: The Rewards & Legal Risks for Your Association.”

In February 2012 in San Diego he spoke on changes to the California Corporations Code affecting associations and their bylaws; limiting associations’ liability on the web; and social media and the law.

In January 2012 Mr. Corwin provided an update on association law topics, including legal issues regarding social media, in Orange County, California.

In July 2011 an article which he co-authored appeared in the California State Bar Business Law News entitled “2010 Nonprofit Law Update” (Annual Review Issue).

In April 2011, he was one of three speakers for the State Bar of California webinar program entitled “2011 – What’s New on the Horizon: Hot Topics in Nonprofit Law.”

In November 2010, he co-authored an article appearing in the California State Bar Business Law News entitled “Introduction to the Form 990 Policy Series — Showcase: Document Retention and Destruction Policy and Memorandum” (Issue 3, 2010).

In May 2010 in Anaheim, he spoke on antitrust issues to the CEOs of the components of the California Dental Association.

In April 2010 Mr. Corwin’s article “Corporations Code Changes Impact California Associations” appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of the CalSAE Legislative Update.  The article highlights significant amendments to the California Corporations Code for associations, effective January 1, 2010.  The amendments result from AB 1233, drafted by the Nonprofits Committee’s Legislative Subcommittee, of which Mr. Corwin is a member.

Also in April 2010, Mr. Corwin served on a panel for the District of Columbia Pro Bono Program “Nonprofit Governance & the Revised IRS Form 990:  Developing a Culture of Transparency.”

In March 2010 he was the moderator and a speaker for the State Bar of California program entitled “Nonprofit Governance Through the Form 990 Looking-Glass,” for which he spoke on “Constructing a Document Retention and Destruction Policy.”

His article on the changes to Section 20, “Hit Send…New Law Makes It Easier for Associations to Use Electronic Communications,” appeared in the November/ December 2009 issue of the CalSAE Executive magazine.

In April 2009 he spoke on managing legal resources in difficult times at the CalSAE Annual Conference.

In March 2009 Mr. Corwin also chaired and spoke at a seminar on anti-trust, intellectual property and other legal challenges for associations in Los Angeles.

In February 2009 he spoke on employment law matters in San Diego.

In January 2009 he moderated a program for the State Bar of California entitled “Nonprofit Governance in the Form 990 Spotlight: What California Business Lawyers Need to Know About the New IRS Requirements” and was also one of two speakers for the State Bar Program “Counseling Your Clients Through Difficult Times — How To Be Supportive and Help Them Do More With Less.”

Mr. Corwin’s article, “2008 Employment Law Update for California Associations,” appeared in February 2009 in The CalSAE Legal and Legislative Briefing.

His article “A Legal Audit — Worth the Time” appeared in the September/October 2008 issue of the CalSAE Executive magazine.

In April 2008 he moderated a panel entitled “Litigation — Who Needs It? What to Do When Your Organization is Affected by Litigation” at an ASAE association law symposium.

In November 2007, Mr. Corwin’’s article “2007 Employment Law Update for California Associations” appeared in The CalSAE Legal Briefing, as did his 2006 Employment Law Update a year earlier.

At the CalSAE Annual Conference in Monterey in April 2007, Mr. Corwin spoke on a number of legal topics, including contracts and formation of association foundations. The same month he moderated a panel on “Protecting Your Association and Its Intellectual Property on the Internet” at an ASAE legal symposium.

In July 2006, Mr. Corwin spoke on legal matters to an association gathering in San Diego.
In January 2006, he spoke as a panelist for CalSAE in Anaheim providing updates on the law, and in April 2006 he delivered a presentation on director duties at an ASAE legal symposium.

His article entitled “Electronic Communications Under the California Corporations Code” appeared in the December 2005 issue of The CalSAE Legal Briefing. His Symposia topics have also included “Improving the Effectiveness of Your Organization’s Contracts.”

He has also acted as guest lecturer at UCLA Extension on the topic “Crisis Management and Professional Counsel.”