Terri Lynn Helge

Professor of Law

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“The study of law opens doors that you never knew were closed.”

Get to Know Terri Lynn Helge

What drew you to the law?

I fell into law accidentally. As a former CPA, I was in the tax practice of an international accounting firm working with individual taxpayers, their family businesses and their foundations. While we were heavily involved with tax planning, the CPAs could not draft the documents to implement the plan; that’s where the lawyers came in. I went to law school so I could become more involved in the planning process for my clients.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy the interaction with students and seeing them develop their critical thinking skills. It is exciting to see students integrate what they are learning in class with real-world examples and to push beyond the “black letter law” to explore the intricacies and nuances of the situation.

What do you hope students gain from your courses?

Lawyers are problem-solvers. No matter what area of law one chooses to practice, a lawyer needs to listen to a client’s concerns and help find a workable solution. Students should gain an appreciation not only for the legal doctrine, but how to use the legal doctrine to find a solution to their clients’ legal problems.

What did you do prior to entering academia?

I practiced tax law with Thompson & Knight LLP in Dallas. I helped nonprofit organizations with the organization, operation and termination of nonprofit corporation and charitable trusts, and also represented individuals seeking to plan and implement wealth transfers to family members and charitable organizations. Before coming to law, I worked as a tax manager at the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen, LLP, dealing with nonprofit organizations, individuals and closely held businesses.

What are you passionate about outside of the law?

I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling and reading.

What are your research interests?

My research focuses on the law of nonprofit organizations and the standards for tax exemption.

Publications

My publications are available on BePress SelectedWorks™.

Presentations

  • “Nuts and Bolts of Unrelated Business Income Tax,” State Bar of Texas Tax Section Tax Law Survey in a Day, Dallas, Texas (Feb. 6, 2015)
  • “Commercializing and Protecting Intellectual Property in an Increasingly Open and Fluid World,” 32nd Annual Nonprofit Organizations Institute, Austin, Texas (Jan. 16, 2015)
  • “Rejecting Charity: Why the IRS Denies Exemption to 501(c)(3) Applicants,” American Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C. (Jan. 3, 2015)
  • “Social Media Pitfalls for Nonprofits,” LGT Nonprofit Organization CPE, Dallas, Texas (Oct. 29, 2014)
  • “Noncash Gifts Policies and Procedures,” 2014 Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants Nonprofit Organizations Conference, Dallas, Texas (May 19, 2014)
  • “411 on Fundraising for Charitable Organizations,” State Bar of Texas Tax Section Tax Law Survey in a Day, Dallas, Texas (Feb. 28, 2014)
  • “Joint Ventures of Nonprofits and For-Profits,” Governance of Nonprofits Organizations Course 2013, Austin, Texas (Aug. 22, 2013)
  • “Cause-Related Marketing,” 30th Annual Nonprofit Organizations Institute, Austin, Texas (Jan. 17, 2013)
  • “Finding the Treasure Box: Responsible Fundraising,” Mission Possible! 2012 Non-Profit Pro Bono Summit, Fort Worth, Texas (Oct. 22, 2012)
  • “Nuts and Bolts of Unrelated Business Income Tax,” Governance of Nonprofits Organizations Course 2012, Austin, Texas (Aug. 23, 2012)
  • “Legal Update: Corporate Governance, Fiduciary Investment Duties and Internal Fraud,” LGT & BBVA Compass Nonprofit Organization CPE, Dallas, Texas (June 27, 2012)
  • “Reforming the Private Benefit Doctrine,” 2012 International Conference on Law & Society, Honolulu, Hawaii (June 6, 2012)
  • “Recognizing and Avoiding Self-Dealing: Both Direct and Indirect,” Dallas Society of Certified Public Accountants Convergence 2012 Conference, Dallas, Texas (May 4, 2012)
  • Interviewed, “Cause & Effect,” Perspectives (University of Illinois College of Business) (Spring 2012) (quoted on the impact of cause-related marketing activities on charitable organizations’ federal tax-exempt status)
  • “Giving Strategies in the New Tax Climate,” Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (Lone Star Council), Fort Worth, Texas (Feb. 21, 2012)
  • “Tax & Legislative Update: Recent Developments in Charitable Giving,” Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (Lone Star Council), Fort Worth, Texas (Feb. 21, 2012)
  • “Overview of Nonprofit Organizations: The Basic Framework,” 29th Annual Nonprofit Organizations Institute, Austin, Texas (Jan. 18, 2012)
  • “Public Charities: A Practical Guide to Key Issues, Choices and Risks,” 29th Annual Nonprofit Organizations Institute, Austin, Texas (Jan. 18, 2012)
  • “Of Slayers, Sex Offenders, and Swindlers: Conduct-Based Disinheritance Statutes and a Paradigm for New Legislation,” Southeastern Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting, Hilton Head, South Carolina (July 29, 2011)
  • “Conduct Based Disinheritance Statutes: Lessons Learned From the Past and a Paradigm for Future Legislation,” Southwest Junior Scholars Conference (Arizona State University), Tempe, Arizona (March 14, 2011)
  • Interviewed, “Tips to make the taxing season less so,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Feb. 18, 2011) (quoted on the complexities of completing one’s own tax return for an article describing tax tips for the average taxpayer)
  • “Charitable Donations: Giving to Museums and Nonprofits,” Texas Wesleyan Law School Center for Law and Intellectual Property (CLIP) Art Law Workshop, Fort Worth, Texas (Feb. 20, 2011)
  • “Transactions Between Nonprofit and For-Profit Organizations,” Fort Worth Chapter of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants Nonprofit Organizations Conference, Fort Worth, Texas (Jan. 25, 2011)
  • “Charitable Trusts vs. Nonprofit Corporations,” 28th Annual Nonprofit Organizations Institute, Austin, Texas (Jan. 13, 2011)
  • “Understand how the Obama Tax Reforms will Impact Your Organization,” The 2010 Nonprofit Performance Summit, Arlington, Virginia (Sept. 21, 2010)
  • “Impact of Estate Tax Repeal on Probate,” Tarrant County Probate Bar Association Seventh Probate Litigation Seminar, Fort Worth, Texas (Sept. 17, 2010)
  • “Transactions Between Nonprofit and For-Profit Organizations,” Governance of Nonprofits Organizations Course 2010, Austin, Texas (Aug. 19, 2010)

Expertise

  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Estate planning
  • Trust law

Courses

  • Wills & Estates
  • Trusts & Fiduciary Responsibilities
  • Nonprofit Organizations
  • Legislation & Regulation
  • Marital Property

Academic Experience

  • Professor of Law
    Texas A&M University School of Law (2013-present)
  • Professor of Law
    Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (2011-2013)
  • Associate Professor of Law
    Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (2008-2011)

Education

  • J.D., South Texas College of Law, summa cum laude
    • South Texas Law Review, Note & Comment Editor
    • Order of the Lytae
    • Valedictorian
  • B.S. in Accountancy, University of Illinois, highest honors