How do I create a new organization?

Forming a New Student Organization

Students at HLS are encouraged to participate in and create new student organizations.  The Dean of Students Office is committed to supporting all new student activities and initiatives.  The following information provides a clear 5 step process for creating a new HLS Org.


Organizations in good standing may:

  • Reserve space on campus and the use of HLS facilities.
  • Invite speakers to campus.  Please note that organizations cannot pay speakers to appear.
  • Post open events on the HLS Events Calendar.
  • Receive an organization listserv, e-mail address and web space.
  • Use the HLS name and shield under specific guidelines.
  • Schedule major campus events (conferences, balls, etc.)
  • Use our Bulletin and Chalkboards

Process for Creating a New Organization

Step 1: First look through the list of the existing organizations to ensure that your proposed organization won’t duplicate or overlap any other organizations’ objectives or a majority of their membership base. There may be room to innovate within the structure of an existing club.  Students should note, this may involve contacting a number of organizations: see the A to Z listing.

If you feel that there is still an unmet need after this review, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: A student or students with an idea for a new student organization should set up an appointment with the Student Activities Coordinator, in the Dean of Students Office.

Step 3Submit an Application (application requirements below)

Application DeadlineFor the 2015-2016 academic year, all applications must be submitted by and on November 3, 2014.  

Step 4: Review of Application

You will be asked to present your proposed organization to a committee including the Student Programs Manager, the Director of Student Affairs, and several representatives from the Student Representative Board.

The committee will use the following criteria to decide whether to approve the organization:

  • The organization must fill an identified, unmet need in the wider HLS community that cannot reasonably be met by an existing organization
  • There must be sufficient student interest to justify the organization’s founding
  • The organization must prove that it will be able to maintain membership for a minimum of two academic years
  • The proposal must be compelling and establish that the proposed new organization will be of significant benefit to the HLS community
  • The organization’s founders must agree that they understand and will follow and enforce all organization policies set by HLS

 Review Process

  • One to two people are invited to present their proposed organization application (10 minutes for the application presentation and Q&A) to the committee including the Student Activities Coordinator, the Director of Student Affairs, and several representatives from the Student Representative Board.
  • The presenters leave the room and the committee including the Student Activities Coordinator, Director of Student Affairs and several representatives from the Student Representative Board discuss the application(s) and then hold a silent vote.
  • The presenters will be contacted within a week with the results of the final vote.
  • If the petition is denied, the organization cannot re-petition until the next year.

Step 5: Establishing the Organization

New organizations are considered to be on ‘probationary status’ for their first year.  New organizations are expected to demonstrate their viability. For more information please refer to the Student Representative Board Constitution

Keeping your Organization in Good Standing

The organization will remain in good standing provided it maintains viable membership, elects officers each spring, and adheres to HLS regulations and community values.  Organizations that do not meet these goals will be reviewed and may face sanctions.  If issues are not corrected, an organization may be dissolved involuntarily.


Application Requirements:

Each organization must submit the following information to the Dean of Students Office in the format outlined below:

  1. Name of the organization
  2. Names and email addresses of all officers of the organization
  3. Evidence of Intended Involvement
  4. Statement of Contribution
  5. Constitution and Statement of Purpose
  6. Specific examples of activities that the organization will sponsor
  7. A list of the names and email addresses of any groups outside the HLS community with which the organization is affiliated
  8. A list of the names of any source of outside funding (funding other than from the Dean of Students Office) which the organization has or expects to receive
  9. Organization Officer Agreement
  10. Name & Letter of Consent from Faculty Advisor

Name of the organization

The organization name must comply with Harvard Trademark and contain the phrase “Law Students Association.”

Evidence of Intended Involvement

At the time of its original formation, each organization must submit evidence of anticipated student involvement including the signatures of at least ten students who are, or seriously intend to become, members of and participants in the organization.

Statement of Contribution

At the time of its original formation, each organization must submit a short statement describing the contribution that the organization will make to the HLS community. Such a statement should explain why no existing student organization meets the needs and objectives of this organization. Partial duplication of purpose with an existing organization may be grounds for refusal to certify a new organization.

Constitution and Statement of Purpose

At the time of its original formation, each organization must submit a constitution and statement of purpose to the Dean of Students Office. Continuing student organizations need not submit a constitution to the Dean of Students each year, but must do so each time the constitution is amended or updated. This document may be simple or elaborate, but it must contain the following information:

Mission: the objectives the group hopes to advance and the specific goals the group hopes to accomplish. The constitution may also include a short statement about which students or community groups the organization expects to serve or attract. When writing the mission statement, framers should keep in mind future members will need to refer to this statement.

Officers: the names and emails of all officers. All organizations must have a President and Treasurer.  See additional requirements below.

Additional officers may be elected or appointed at the discretion of the organization and the names of these officers must also be reported to the Dean of Students Office.

Elections: the procedures by which the officers listed in the previous section are selected.

Amendments to the Constitution: the specific process for amendment of the constitution.

Certification: the constitution should include the signature of each of the group’s founders. Any amendments to existing constitutions should be signed by the President and Treasurer of the organization at the time the amendment is made.

Organization Officer Agreement

The President and Treasurer of each organization must sign and submit the Organization Officer Agreement certifying that s/he is aware of the policies of HLS and Harvard University and incorporates these policies into the organizations activities.  The Agreement must be submitted each fall at the Organization Leaders Meeting.

Other Organizational Requirements:

When establishing your student organization, you will also need to meet the following additional requirements before receiving official HLS recognition:


All organizations must have a President and Treasurer.Because of the HLS budget and fiscal year, individuals who serve as Treasurers must hold office for the entire academic year (through June 30) even after the election of new officers. Additional officers may be elected or appointed at the discretion of the organization. Officers of student organizations must be currently enrolled Harvard Law students.

Each organization must submit the names and email addresses of their President and Treasurer to the Dean of Students Office each year.  Funds for the organization will not be released until the Dean of Students Office has the current list of officers.

Faculty Advisor

All student organizations must have a faculty advisor who is an HLS professor, administrator or lecturer. Any organization in need of a faculty advisor may contact the Dean of Students Office for assistance.

The functions of the faculty advisors are twofold: they contribute to the healthy growth and functioning of a student organization by providing constructive advice and assistance; and they help to prevent or solve problems or difficult situations before or as they arise.

Student organizations should keep their faculty advisor updated on the activities of the organization throughout the year. The actual degree of participation is at the discretion of the faculty advisor.

Budget and Financial Reporting

Any group wishing to receive funding from the Dean of Students Office will be expected to submit a budget request in March, which will be reviewed by the Student Funding Board. The President and Treasurer of the organization will be notified of funding decisions.

Funding of New Student Organizations

To obtain funding, new student organizations must comply with the rules and procedures established for existing student organizations as described above and in the funding section below. Because of limited total funding for student organizations, the maximum amount of funding available for a new organization is $500, although new organizations are not automatically entitled to this level of funding. For these purposes, a new organization is one that has not previously received separate funding or separate recognition from the Dean of Students Office.

Still have questions? Contact DOS or come by WCC 3039.