Mary Tovella Dowling

Mary Tovella Dowling is a practicing attorney and a partner at For Purpose Law Group. Ms. Dowling’s legal practice primarily focuses on providing full-service legal representation to tax exempt organizations, social enterprises and entrepreneurs across a broad spectrum of industries and sectors in transactional and litigation matters.

Ms. Dowling’s nonprofit practice is focused on providing counsel and guidance to tax exempt organizations and their donors as they navigate the myriad legal issues facing modern tax exempt entities. Her current clients include a wide variety of public charities, private foundations, and other nonprofit organizations—from museums, religious and faith-based organizations, and social welfare organizations to healthcare and research organizations, business leagues, educational institutions and social clubs.

As a passionate advocate for her clients at all stages of the nonprofit life cycle, she places a particular emphasis on corporate law and tax matters, under federal, state, and local tax laws, beginning with entity formation and applications for federal and state exemption, and including such issues as unrelated business income planning, fundraising, compliance with public support tests, property tax exemption, nonprofit corporate governance and board disputes, contract drafting and negotiation, mergers and acquisitions, corporate compliance, and joint ventures.

Ms. Dowling has represented nonprofit boards, members and donors in various litigation matters including member derivative suits, and actions involving underlying claims of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, misappropriation of charitable assets and violations of charitable solicitations laws and regulations. Ms. Dowling provides a unique perspective to the litigation process given her expertise within and understanding of the exempt organization sector.

In addition to her representation of exempt organizations, Ms. Dowling represents social enterprises and other corporate clients in a wide variety of business pursuits and transactions, including business formation, contracts, mergers and acquisitions, dissolution, joint ventures, corporate compliance, and intellectual property. Relying on her complimentary backgrounds in both business and law, Ms. Dowling is able to combine her areas of expertise to help her clients create, manage, and maintain successful business pursuits at all stages and across numerous industries. 

Ms. Dowling not only represents organizations in the nonprofit sector – she also spends many hours volunteering her services to start-up business and nonprofit, specifically in downtown San Diego. As the Supervising Attorney of TJSL Nonprofit and Business Law Economic Development Clinic, Ms. Dowling supervises and trains certified law students gaining practical legal experience through the pro bono representation of eligible nonprofit and business clients.

Additionally, Ms. Dowling has volunteered her time as a panelist on the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture to review and rank grant proposals of local San Diego nonprofit applicants. She enjoys contributing to the sector by regularly speaking and presenting on various topics relating the nonprofit and social enterprise sector providing invaluable training, education and resources.