Mary Dowling, Esq.

Founder and Managing Attorney
Phone : 619-930-9332
Email :

Ms. Dowling is the founder and Managing Attorney of Tovella Dowling, PC. Her practice focuses on providing counsel and guidance to tax exempt organization, donors, and entrepreneurs in the capacity of outside general counsel as they navigate the myriad legal issues facing modern tax-exempt entities and socially conscious businesses.

Her current nonprofit and tax-exempt clients include a wide variety of public charities, private foundations, and other nonprofit organizations—from scientific and research-based organization, journalism and local newsrooms, museums, religious and faith-based organizations, and social welfare organizations to sports-based organizations, business leagues, educational institutions, and social clubs. As a passionate advocate for her clients at all stages of the nonprofit life cycle, she places a particular emphasis on corporate compliance, governance and tax matters, under federal, state, and local tax laws, beginning with entity formation and applications for federal and state exemption, and including such issues as unrelated business income planning, compliance with public support tests, property tax exemption, nonprofit corporate governance, contract drafting and negotiation, fundraising compliance, corporate compliance, and joint ventures.

In addition to her representation of exempt organizations, Ms. Dowling represents social enterprises and other corporate clients in a wide variety of business pursuits and transactions, including business formation, contracts, mergers and acquisitions, dissolution, joint ventures, corporate compliance, and intellectual property.

Ms. Dowling also serves as a trusted advisor to professional and commercial fundraisers advising on the ever-changing regulatory compliance inherent in the fundraising sector, as well as, providing strategic and creative counsel with regard to business, tax and regulatory compliance structuring. Ms. Dowling instills creativity, passion and collaboration in her everyday practice and thrives on being an integral part of a her client’s growth.

From a litigation standpoint, Ms. Dowling has represented organizations, as well as donors, in various actions including labor and employment actions, governance and board disputes, enforcement of membership rights, wrongful removal and termination actions, breach of contract and misappropriation of charitable assets.

When not practicing law, Ms. Dowling enjoys mentoring local law students that are interested in pursuing careers in public interest, and transactional law and spending time with her husband and their two daughters.

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • Arizona
  • Colorado

Recognition and Awards:

  • American Bar Association 2021 Outstanding Nonprofit Lawyer Award

Affiliations, Memberships and Community Involvements:

  • Adjunct Professor at University of San Diego
    • LEAD 509 Nonprofit Law
  • Adjunct Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law
    • Supervising Attorney of Business and Nonprofit Pro Bono Law Clinic
    • Professional Responsibility
  • The Nonprofit Institute – Certificate Program Certificate Educator
  • Arizona Nonprofit Alliance – Business on Board Certificate Educator
  • City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture Panel Member (2019)
  • American Bar Association Nonprofit Organizations Committee
  • San Diego Bar Association