What we do

NGO Law provides practical legal advice and assistance to not-for-profits of all shapes and sizes. Our interesting and inspiring clients range from local community start-ups to trans-frontier projects and multinationals.

How we work

We provide a cost-effective, no-frills service that also aims to go the extra mile where it counts, and we aim for clarity and accuracy in all our dealing with you. We don’t have fancy offices or a smooth corporate image to maintain, but focus on getting the job done as efficiently as possible. We work as a team and play to our strengths, which means you will probably deal with all of us at some stage.

Office hours and communication

  • We all work flexi-time and sometimes remotely, so some of us may not be in the office on every week day.
  • Our landline is reliably answered between 8.30am and 2.30pm on weekdays. Nicole and Philippa will (unless otherwise occupied in meetings/ workshops or on landline calls) answer their cell phones between 8.30 am and 4.30pm on weekdays.
  • Email is our preferred method of written communication. We do not use Whatsapp or SMS for work purposes (except for CIPC pin confirmations).
  • Because we prefer to deal with incoming emails in a comprehensive and considered fashion, we do not aim to answer all emails on the day they are received. If you do not receive a response within a week, please do feel free to resend and remind us about any pressing deadline you may have.
  • Please try to give us at least three weeks’ notice of deadlines and meetings so that we can plan to have the work done when you need it. We do try to accommodate sudden emergencies, but this is not always possible when we are already working to other deadlines.

Dealing with government

The government departments that we deal with often have backlogs and turnaround problems. We keep abreast of these, so we can advise you on the sorts of delays you can expect.

We have long-standing collegial relationships with many of the officials working in government departments. The cordiality of these relationships is beneficial to all of our clients. We are mindful of the constraints and pressures that these people are under and will not pester, insult or harangue them as they deserve respectful treatment and it does your case no good to be demanding or rude.

New clients

Before we start work for you we will

  • Usually provide some initial advice;
  • send you a short ‘letter of engagement’ to sign; and
  • Send you a pro forma invoice with a small deposit to be paid (which will later be offset against the first invoice we send you).

Once we have the details we need from you, the signed letter of engagement, and proof of payment of our deposit, we will open your file, set up meetings/ telephone consults (if necessary) and commence work.

Our fees

  • We will provide estimates for the work to be done, but do not generally work to fixed quotes and will charge for the actual time spent, whether more or less than estimate. Charging for actual time spent on your project is still the most straightforward and even-handed way of doing it. Fixed quotes mean we have to build in more for eventualities and will be unaffordable to many.
  • We charge for all of our time spent working for you. We do not take free meetings and, while we may give out some initial advice before you are officially a client, we will record the time spent doing this, and, once you are a client, invoice you for it, as this initial advice is probably the most valuable work we will do for you.

We charge for our time spent on every sort of work done for you- researching, drafting, advising, meeting, travelling, emailing you, talking to you on the phone, filling out forms, checking and collating what you send, and following

Meet the team


Nicole has consulted to the NGO sector since 1993. She is an admitted attorney (non-practising) and has her Masters in the tax exemption laws. Nicole developed her drafting skills while working as a business lawyer, and she has a pragmatic problem-solving approach to all the work she does. Her depth and breadth of experience over many years and her work with government and to a wide range of clients, give her useful perspective and insight. Nicole also lectures and trains on various topics of importance to the NGO sector. She is author of ‘NGO Matters: A practical legal guide to starting up’, and managing author of the series of NGO Matters handbooks, published by Juta.


Philippa spent 8 years in the UK, and worked as an IT consultant, before coming back to settle in Durban. She returned to law and completed her LLB in 2010, which gave her a valuable update on current legislation. She is an admitted attorney (non-practising), and has wide experience consulting in the commercial sector. Philippa joined Nicole at NGOLaw in 2013, and she advises and assists clients with starting up, registration, compliance, structuring and BEE/ social enterprise hybrids. She still consults to for-profit clients, mainly in the entertainment and marketing sector, but her primary focus is on NGO law.


Janice’s background is in travel consultancy and she spent 15 years working for South Africa’s leading tour operator heading up the international reservations department. She now navigates a different sort of landscape for the clients of NGO Law, and has been a valuable part of NGOLaw since 2007. Unflappable and resourceful, Janice handles all of the invoicing and NPO reporting, deals with trust and company forms, and ably guides our clients on matters of compliance


Dorothy is an experienced legal secretary and paralegal assistant who worked in a legal practice for eight years before taking time off to have a family. She returned to her desk in 2013 when she joined NGOLaw. Apart from providing essential administrative assistance to Nicole and Philippa, Dorothy, with a keen eye for detail, makes all of the NPO applications on behalf of our clients; compiles the PBO applications, and tracks the various registration processes until completion.

A few of our clients

Sail Africa

We were more than delighted with the service we received from Nicole and her team at NGO Law.  Not only was the outcome exactly as we desired, but the service was impeccable.  Both Nicole and Philippa were professional yet approachable, Continue reading →

Red Frogs

“Working with Nicole and her team has been an absolute pleasure. We have been incredibly impressed with her professionalism, insight and willingness to guide us through the founding of our organisation both as an NPO & PBO. She was able Continue reading →

Fix Forward

We used NGO Law to assist with a number of things, including drafting agreements between our non-profit trust and company, drafting the MOI for the company and submitting reports and name change requests to the NPO Directorate. We found them Continue reading →


Nicole and her team at NGOlaw are our trusted legal partners, since our first registration. They are always available for expert advice, and have helped us tremendously in building our non-profit governance and accountability structures. These are critical to us Continue reading →


Nicole Copley and the NGO Law team possess rich knowledge and long experience of the legal and policy frameworks that govern the non profit sector. As such they serve as an invaluable resource to draw on in an often confusing Continue reading →