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  • J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, 2004, magna cum laude; Order of the Coif; Managing Editor, Georgetown Law Journal; Senior Writing Fellow; Legal Writing Fellow
  • M.Mus., Manhattan School of Music, 1997
  • B.Mus., Eastman School of Music, 1995

Bar and Court Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia Court of Appeals

Other Professional Affiliations

American Bar Association (Section of Taxation)

District of Columbia Bar (Tax Section)

Maryland State Bar Association

Women's Bar Association

Government Experience

United States Court of Federal Claims (2004-2005), Law Clerk to Hon. Emily C. Hewitt

Sharon W. Nokes

Of Counsel, Washington, D.C.
(202) 862-7839 | v-card | PDF
Sharon Weinberg Nokes is Of Counsel to the Exempt Organizations Group at Caplin & Drysdale. She joined the firm's Washington, D.C. office in 2008, and provides sophisticated legal advice to a broad range of clients, including some of the nation's largest private foundations and publicly-supported charities; educational institutions;  arts and cultural organizations, such as museums, artist-endowed private foundations, and cultural centers; social welfare organizations; and high-technology nonprofits.


Ms. Nokes counsels clients on a variety of tax, corporate, and compliance issues, including executive compensation, structuring charitable and unrelated business activities, domestic and international grantmaking, program-related investing, transactions and relationships with for-profit organizations, lobbying and political activities, and corporate governance. She has considerable experience with the rules governing private foundations, supporting organizations, and donor-advised funds, is well-versed on the evolving areas of venture philanthropy and social enterprise, and also provides guidance to donors regarding their charitable giving alternatives.

A skilled advocate, Ms. Nokes' regularly represents clients in complex IRS examinations, disputes with state attorneys general, whistleblower actions, and specific ruling requests.  Clients also rely on her representation before the Treasury Department and congressional tax-writing committees with regard to proposed or recently-enacted laws and regulations. 

In her role as General Counsel for a nonprofit, Ms. Nokes has intimate knowledge of the inner workings of a tax-exempt organization.  These insights allow her to offer clients comprehensive and creative, yet pragmatic solutions to address the unique challenges facing nonprofits.  Ms. Nokes' professional background in the arts has also proven to be an asset for clients serving cultural and artistic missions.


Ms. Nokes is General Counsel for Buildable Hours, a Washington, D.C.-based public charity that coordinates contributions and volunteer activities nationwide between law firms and local Habitat for Humanity organizations.

Before entering the legal profession, Ms. Nokes was a professional musician, performing with several orchestras and chamber ensembles in New York City and in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region, and serving as the principal flutist of the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C.

Professional Activities

A skilled writer and editor, Ms. Nokes serves as Editor-in-Chief of Taxation of Exempts, a bi-monthly publication for nonprofit executives and professional advisors to nonprofit organizations.  She also has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law in the Legal Scholarship and Writing Program at Georgetown University Law Center since 2004.

Recent Publications

Recent Speaking Engagements
  • Navigating the Exempt Organization Process, American Bar Association, Section of Taxation, Washington, D.C. (2014)
  • Pin it, Tag it, Like it...UBIT? Compliance Issues for Non-Profit Social Media Campaigns, Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association, Washington, D.C. (2014)
  • Forming, Governing, and Maintaining a Section 501(c)(3) Organization, Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts Nonprofit Series, Washington, D.C. (2014)
  • The Opportunities and Disruptive Potential of the Impact Economy:  Impact Legal Structures, Association of Corporate Counsel webinar (2013)
  • Forming, Governing, and Maintaining a Section 501(c)(3) Arts Organization, Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts (2013)
  • Shaking the Money Tree: Corporate Sponsorship and Other Revenue Generating Strategies for Non-Profits, Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association's Non-Profits & Associations Forum, Washington, D.C. (2013)
  • Navigating the Perfect Storm: Simultaneous Federal, State, Civil, and Criminal Investigations, Georgetown University Law Center's Representing and Managing Tax-Exempt Organizations Conference, Washington, D.C. (2013)
  • Exempt Organizations Guidance: Year in Review, Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association Forum, Washington, D.C. (2013)
  • Nonprofit Executive Compensation: Getting to Reasonable Without Making Headlines, Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association Corporate Governance Conference (2012)
  • 2011 Legal Update, McGladrey Washington, D.C. Annual Not-for-Profit Summit (2012)
  • Just One More Couldn't Hurt: When to Use Joint Ventures, Subsidiaries, and Affiliates—And When Not To, National Association of College and University Business Officers' Tax Forum (2011)