Paul Winters

Paul Winters is a partner and provides legal services for the firm's wide array of nonprofit clients and other entities.  Religious organizations, educational institutions, public charities and private operating foundations, number among the clients Paul serves. Paul's practice is devoted to helping nonprofits maximally achieve their exempt purposes.

At Wagenmaker & Oberly, Paul advises organizations through corporate formation and development projects and addresses diverse federal and state tax compliance matters. He also helps officers and directors understand their fiduciary duties and develop robust structures from which leaders can properly govern.  Paul leads the firm's corporate practice group, and the firm's technology, cybersecurity, and privacy practice group, assisting clients to understand and comply with these dynamic legal areas.

Paul also provides litigation-related solutions to his clients, protecting the interests of the firm's nonprofit corporate clients.  He has defended both religious and non-religious exempt organizations, and understands the nuances and requirements affecting nonprofit governance and operations in such litigation.  Additionally, Paul helps clients with legal issues affecting real estate, including the conveyance of property both to and from exempt organizations, and spearheading property tax exemption appeals.

With a background in church leadership, and as a published author in the field, Paul also provides guidance to religious organizations in the areas of child protection and mandatory reporting obligations under the wide-variety of laws concerning clergy-privilege in the 50 states.

While in law school, Paul completed two judicial externships: one for the Honorable Sharon Johnson Coleman in the Northern District of Illinois federal court, and a second for the Honorable Matthias Delort in Cook County.  Also during law school, Paul volunteered at a suburban legal aid clinic.  Prior to working at Wagenmaker & Oberly, Paul spent one year working for the in-house counsel department of an international energy company.

Prior to his law school education, Paul served as the senior pastor of a Chicago-area suburban church for 16 years. During that time, Paul served in varying roles as Moderator of the Chicago Metro Presbytery, and Chairman of its Missions and Credentialing Committees.  Paul's combination of educational, legal and ecclesiastical experience gives him unusual insight into the challenges and dynamics facing volunteer organizations, faith-based groups, and various non-profit entities. 

Paul’s extensive experience and wisdom contribute substantially to our law firm’s continued dedication and effectiveness in providing focused legal expertise to nonprofits.



  • Taxation of Exempts: "Religious Tax Reclassification for Public Charities," with Sally R. Wagenmaker and Ryan Oberly, January/February 2022
  • Taxation of Exempts: “The California Consumer Privacy Act - What Nonprofits Need to Know,” with Jonathan S. Hwang, July 2019
  • When to Report Child Abuse: Reporting Obligations for Religious Leaders, The Ledger, National Association of Church Business Administration, Vol. 33, Number 1, Spring 2014
  • Whom Must the Clergy Protect? The Interests of At-Risk Children in Conflict with Clergy-Penitent Privilege, DePaul Law Review Fall 2012, 62 DePaul L. Rev. 187 
  • The Erosion of Federal Common Law:  Anticipatory Delegation in American Electric Power Company v. Connecticut, Buffalo Environmental Law Journal 2011-2012 19 Buff. Envtl. L.J. 341


  • Data Security - Legal and Practical Considerations, BMWL National Nonprofit Virtual Conference (2021)
  • The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Other Developments in Data Security Law – What Nonprofit Leaders Need to Know, BMWL National Nonprofit Conference (2019)
  • Department of Labor Update, BMWL National Nonprofit Conference (2019)
  • Are We Safe?  Data Privacy and Other Tech-Related Risk Management, Christian Legal Society National Conference (2019)
  • Hot Topics for Today's Non-Profit Leaders: Avoid the Pitfalls and Stay Compliant, NonprofitWebAdvisor (2019)
  • A Nonprofit Duet: Ethics for Attorneys Serving on Nonprofit Boards, and Protecting Section 501(c)(3) Status Post-Obergefell, Christian Legal Society National Conference (2018)
  • Complaints, Cybersecurity, and Currency – Best Practices Policies for Effective Ministry Management, Missio Nexus (2018)
  • Cybersecurity, Data, and the Internet of Thing, New York Law School/Loyola University Chicago School – Rooftops Conference Chicago (2018)
  • My House? Your House? Our House? When Not-for-Profits Wish to Co-Locate, New York Law School/Loyola University College of Law – Rooftops Conference Chicago (2016)
  • Art in Sacred Places, United Methodist Church Trustees' Space-Sharing Workshop (2015)
  • 1023-EZ: Lessons and Considerations from the Form’s First Ninth Months, Chicago Bar Association (2015)
  • Incorporating a Nonprofit, Engaged Encounter National Conference (2014)


  • DePaul University College of Law (2014 - Present)
  • Lecturer, Northwestern University, School of Professional Studies (2016 - Present)


  • American Bar Association – Cyberspace Institute, Nonprofit Organizations Subcommittee
  • International Association of Privacy Professionals
  • TEGE Exempt Organizations Council
  • DePaul University Workplace Environment Committee (WEC)
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Illinois Bar Association
  • Phi Delta Phi International Legal Fraternity
  • Christian Legal Society