Karl E. Emerson
Philadelphia Office

1735 Market Street
21st Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103-7505

P: 215-772-7314
F: 215-731-3728


Karl E. Emerson provides legal counsel and advice to nonprofit organizations, including advising charitable organizations and their fundraisers on compliance with state charitable solicitation statutes, conducting charitable organization compliance assessments, and conducting internal investigations for charitable and other tax-exempt organizations.

Karl represents more than 100 charitable organizations and educational institutions that he registers each year to solicit contributions nationally in all states where required. He also represents charitable organizations when they are investigated by various state and federal agencies.

Prior to joining Montgomery McCracken, Karl served as director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Charitable Organizations where he was responsible for administering and enforcing Pennsylvania’s charitable solicitation law. Under his direction, the number of registered organizations increased from approximately 3,700 to more than 9,800. He streamlined and eliminated cumbersome registration procedures and policies, implemented the first electronic registration system in the country and set up a Special Investigation and Audit Unit that pursues fraud and other abuses in the nonprofit sector. He worked closely with state and federal law enforcement agencies as well as foreign law enforcement agencies on several terrorist financing cases.

Previously, Karl held a variety of executive level positions in the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General where he supervised and directed complex fraud, waste and abuse investigations. These investigations resulted in major monetary recoveries and savings for the Commonwealth, hundreds of employee disciplinary actions, several grand jury investigations, and numerous criminal prosecutions and civil and administrative actions. He worked closely with state and federal law enforcement agencies during his 10 years at the Office of Inspector General.

From 1983 to 1985, Karl was a prosecuting attorney with the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs where he initiated and managed investigations of professional misconduct and represented the Commonwealth at formal disciplinary hearings.

Selected Publications

Selected Speaking Engagements

Community Involvement

Karl has served as the president and vice president of the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) and served on the NASCO Board for four years. He was one of six individuals selected to represent the nonprofit sector on the Internal Revenue Service’s first Tax-Exempt Advisory Committee. Karl is a former co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Charitable Organization Committee.

Honors & Awards

  • The Best Lawyers in America© – Non-Profit/Charities Law, 2018, 2022
  • The Best Lawyers in America©: “Lawyer of the Year” – Non-Profit/Charities Law, 2022
  • Named by The Nonprofit Times as one of the 50 most influential members of the nonprofit community in 2001, 2003 and 2006
  • Recognized as one of only three recipients of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Greater Philadelphia Chapter’s “Government Philanthropic Partner Award”

No aspect of these advertisements have been approved by the highest court of any state. See Awards Methodology

Academic Achievements

Karl received a J. D. degree from Temple University Law School in 1981. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1978 where he earned dual degrees, each magna cum laude, in Economics and Business Administration.