About the Merlin Foundation
The Merlin Legal Open Source Foundation is a non-profit corporation that has filed to be recognized as a tax exempt educational organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. As of October 27, 2019, the IRS has not yet ruled on the registration request. The Foundation will seek similar status in other parts of the world as may be appropriate to our mission.
The Merlin Foundation’s mission is to improve access to justice and make legal processes and regulatory compliance more efficient through the use of open source software. We welcome individuals and organizations around the world to join us in this effort.
HOW WE OPERATE
The Merlin Foundation is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors, an Advisory Board and the Foundation Director. Financials are monitored by an experienced Chief Financial Officer. Board members are not paid for their services but will be reimbursed by the Foundation for reasonable expenses when appropriate.
The Advisory Board consists of leading legal and technology professionals from around the world. These members are chosen based on the past contributions to legal technology and the profession and with an eye toward creating a diverse group of members who represent all aspects of the legal and technology profession and who have a passion for seeing Merlin’s mission move forward. Advisory Board members are not paid for their services but will be reimbursed for reasonable expenses when appropriate.
Day-to-day operations are managed by our Foundation Director, John Tredennick. The Foundation may add a dedicated director other staff members in the future as conditions warrant.
The Merlin Foundation works closely with volunteers to carry out our mission and goals.
Project Managers: Developers who want to start legal open source projects can register for assistance and to list their projects on the foundation’s website. The contributing developer will typically serve as the project manager. Source code is typically stored in GitHub, either in a site of the developer’s choosing or on one sponsored by the foundation.
In many cases, outside organizations may provide support and funding for open source projects. This can be done for public service reasons but may also be done for software offered with both an open source and enterprise version. Linux, for example is an open source operating system for desktop computers and network servers. Red Hat supports the basic coding distribution while also providing and supporting an enterprise version. Users are free to choose either version or even to branch out the code to create separate distributions. Linux is available in many versions such as Ubuntu, CentOS, and Fedora. There are literally hundreds of Linux distributions available.
Contributors: Other members with technical and software expertise may join individual open source projects to contribute code, extend the code base, perform QC tasks and test the code in a real-life setting. Each volunteer should have the technical expertise to perform the task and will be supervised by the project manager or designee.
Maintainers: Once an open source project is launched, there is a need for volunteers to maintain the code and ensure its security. Often the Project Manager continues to maintain the software but others can step forward as well. On larger projects, sponsors may support the maintenance of more widely-used software projects.
Members: Other individuals who want to be a part of the Merlin Foundation but lack the technical skills of a contributor, may become supporting members to help us carry out the mission. We need help from writers, speakers and thinkers to carry out our educational mission and spread the gospel of open source. Donations from our members also help move the organization forward.
The Merlin Foundation welcomes sponsors who want to support our mission to promote open source and secure cloud computing for the legal profession. Sponsor packages are being developed now. If you are interested in becoming a foundation sponsor, please contact us directly.
Founding Sponsors: This designation is available to a limited number of early sponsors, including those organizations who helped in the formation and initial start of the Merlin Foundation.