Harvard Law School Association

Club and Shared Interest Group (SIG)
Operating Guidelines

Summary of the fundamental operating guidelines under which HLSA expects each HLSA Alumni Club or SIG to function. 

These guidelines need to be electronically approved by the Club/SIG President and submitted to HLSA annually as part of the Annual Club/SIG Certification process.

The purpose of this document is to summarize the fundamental operating guidelines under which HLSA expects each HLSA Alumni Club or SIG to function. This is critically important to the HLSA and HLS, as each Club/SIG represents the School to their alumni constituents and should therefore operate in a manner that is both consistent with and reinforcing of the core HLSA and HLS brands.

I. Mission/Purpose of HLSA Alumni Clubs and SIGs
The purpose of HLSA Alumni Clubs and SIGs is to advance the cause of legal education, to promote the interests and increase the usefulness of the Harvard Law School, and to promote mutual acquaintance and good fellowship among all members of the Harvard Law School community and its alumni.  This is accomplished by working in cooperation with the School and HLS Alumni Center by:

  1. Providing opportunities for alumni to remain connected to the School and each other;

  2. Encouraging life-long learning, intellectual enrichment, professional growth and social interaction through forums of continuing education and development;

  3. Providing opportunities for alumni to meet and serve as advocates, helping to promote and elevate the stature of the School within the community through Club/SIG programming.

II. Operating Guidelines
The Operating Guidelines require the following from each HLSA Alumni Club or SIG:

  1. Inclusive Access: Allow access to all HLSA Members (see Members of the HLSA for all qualifications which grant HLSA Member status).

  2. Bylaws/Governance: Operate under the direction of a written set of bylaws that provides clear and appropriate operating procedures as to the governance of the Club or SIG. The bylaws should be available to all alumni.

    • If desired, the Club/SIG may be established as a non-profit entity (501(c)(3); 501(c)(7) ). See the 501(c)(3) policy for details and restrictions.

    • Leadership positions should be defined and should include, at a minimum, a President, Vice-President, Communications Chair, Programming Chair, and Treasurer. All officers involved in the running of the Club/SIG should be HLSA Members. The Club/SIG must have a clear succession plan for its officers with explicit term limits and election/nomination procedures.

    • A Board of Directors should be established to oversee Club/SIG operations and officers. The Club/SIG should also have a clear succession plan for its board members with explicit term limits and election/nomination procedures.

  3. Financial Controls: Ensure financial controls are in place and that funds are managed in a prudent manner.

    • Clubs/SIGs should maintain a bank account and establish checks and balances on the receipt and disbursement of Club/SIG funds. Where there are frequent and significant transactions, Clubs/SIGs should consider requiring two signatures.

    • Clubs/SIGs should establish routine and transparent reporting to Club/SIG members.

  4. Ethics/Conflicts of Interest: Operate in a professional/ethical manner that does not allow for the mixing of personal, political, or commercial business with the Club/SIG activities or communications.

    • No officers, directors or volunteers should benefit financially from involvement with the Club/SIG. Club/SIG communications should not contain “advertisements” for, or listings of any businesses, unless those businesses have a formal Club/SIG management-approved sponsorship agreement.

    • Clubs/SIGs must not endorse any political party, platform, or candidate for office in any way. Membership and alumni data may not be used for political campaigning or solicitation for support.

    • Alumni data must be considered confidential information.  Alumni data includes, but is not limited to all biographical data: name, home/office address, telephone/fax numbers, and email address (including HLS Email Forwarding Addresses and post.harvard.edu addresses). Alumni data may only be used by Club/Sig officers, directors or volunteers (having HLS alumni status) and may only be used by non-alumni where the non-alumnus is a paid Club Administrator.  All Club/SIG Presidents are responsible for requiring all non-alumni administrators to sign the HLS Alumni Data Confidentiality Agreement and/or the AlumniMagnet Participation Guidelines and Policies (PGP) agreement.  All signed Confidentiality Agreements must be submitted to the HLS Alumni Center. Anyone who may have access to alumni data, including Club Officers and Board Members (HLS alumni), must sign and sumbit the HLS Alumni Data Confidentiality Agreement before access to any alumni data will be granted.  HLS Alumni data may not be made available in print or electronic form.

    • Membership and alumni data may be used for outreach and engagement to further HLS alumni activities only. Alumni data is only available for networking purposes.

  5. Communication: The Club/SIG should provide clear and regular communications to its members, constituents and HLS.

    • Clubs/SIGs should send regular communications to its constituents, whether in print or electronic form.

    • Clubs/SIGs are required to host at least two physical meetings for its members each year.

    • Clubs/SIGs should communicate on a regular basis with the HLS Alumni Center and include HLS Alumni Relations staff members on routine communications to alumni. The Club/SIG must also complete the annual HLSA Clubs & SIGs Certification, which provides the school with information on current officers and basic membership data.

  6. Representation: The Club/SIG must represent itself appropriately, as a separate and independent alumni organization, not as the Harvard Law School.

  7. Brand: The Club/SIG must adhere to the guidelines outlined in "HLSA Partnership Guidelines" and “Harvard University and HLS Logo/Trademark Guidelines.” Non-compliance with School and University policies may result in the Club's or SIG's loss of the right to use the "Harvard" name.

    The School shall have the discretion at all times to delist a Club/SIG and/or require the removal of a Club/SIG officer if, in the School's judgment, such Club/SIG/officer has committed a serious violation of the Club/SIG mission, has breached the spirit in which Clubs/SIGs function, has been negligent in the management of the Club/SIG, has brought discredit to the reputation of the Club/SIG or the School, or has otherwise acted in ways deemed inappropriate by the School.