Erika E. Cole, Esq. leads the Churches and Faith-Based Organizations practice at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP and is one of only a handful of attorneys in the nation who practices exclusively in the area of Church Law. Known as The Church Attorney®, Erika has dedicated her life to helping
churches of all denominations and sizes ensuring that their legal affairs are in order so they can
focus on spreading their message, serving their communities, and growing their ministries.
For nearly two decades, Erika has partnered with ministries to address everything from
church planting, new leadership transitions, buying and selling property to succession
planning, and helping leadership address the spectrum of governance matters. She has
also assisted churches and ministries obtain 501(c)(3) tax exempt status with a 100%
Whether handling an unexpected legal crisis, legal audit or helping churches through
the buying, selling and construction of property, Erika’s philosophy has remained the
same: to provide the same level of excellence, diligence and counsel across the board.
When she isn’t serving as General Counsel for her clients, she is teaching the next
generation of lawyers and community leaders as a Professor at the University of Baltimore
School of Law and Loyola College of Maryland in their MBA Program.
Her calling to support churches and empower its leaders propelled her to join a
year-long mission in Latin America where she worked with churches, their members
and advanced human rights. Upon returning, she started a mission’s ministry at
her own church and subsequently participated and oversaw several other mission
trips taking missionaries from South Dakota to Namibia.
Erika’s reputation as a Thought Leader in the Church Law community has
attracted a myriad of opportunities such as:
2011: Appointed to the Panel of Legal Experts for the Commission of
Accountability for Religious Organizations.
2013: Appointed to Board of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
2013: Opened a second office to better serve a growing client base in a new
2016: Admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court.
Erika and her husband Brien are happily married and are the loving parents of two sons.
The staff of The Law Offices of Erika E. Cole, LLC is committed to providing excellent legal representation with competence, character, and compassion. We provide the following legal services:
Whether you are renovating your existing Church building, or purchasing land for the construction of a new facility, we can answer your questions and guide you through the complex process from loan acquisition to settlement.
Establishing a properly functioning governing body is an integral part of your Church or non-profit. And while Board Members may be more than willing to fulfill their obligations, they often need instruction and guidance to best carry out these duties. Mrs. Cole is highly experienced and much sought after in this capacity, and can guide your Trustees and Officers to a greater understanding of their role.
Mrs. Cole has over 17 years of experience in obtaining tax-exempt status for Churches and other non-profit organizations with a 100% success rate! Our office has a thorough understanding of the IRS requirements and process for tax-exempt status, and we see each application through to completion.
The Church Charter is a key first step in answering the call to start your Church. We can draft and finalize this crucial document that will help establish your Church as a legal entity. Also, we can assist in the preparation of By-Laws to avoid costly litigaton.
Over the past five years, lawsuits against churches have increased dramatically. Larger churches face an even greater risk of litigation. It has been reported that churches with more than 1,000 members have a 1 in 12 chance of being sued. Most lawsuits regard church employees, church property matters, church governance, or allegations of inappropriate relations.
This distressing trend means that church leaders must assess their risk, implement appropriate policies, and if necessary, vigorously defend the church in litigation. Mrs. Cole has successfully represented churches to ensure their continuity and protection.
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