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Handbook for Student Organization Officers

Student Organizations are an essential component of a successful legal education.  Student organizations play a major role in shaping the social, cultural and intellectual environment at Harvard Law School (HLS). The continued vitality and diversity of student groups and student activities add to the overall richness of the HLS experience. The Dean of Students Office fosters the activities and development of these organizations and assists HLS students who participate in student activities. The Dean of Students Office is the primary link between student organizations and HLS.

Through the allocation of student organization funds, the Dean of Students Office helps to provide for the wide-ranging needs of student organizations and facilitates the goals and objectives of their membership. By acting as a resource, it helps student organizations resolve internal problems and plan new initiatives. The Office also performs an administrative role by ensuring there is a free exchange of ideas throughout the HLS community, consistent with the academic mission of HLS.

The Handbook:  Provides a framework for the formation and operation of HLS student organizations; it includes information on everything from becoming an official HLS student organization to conducting conferences and bringing speakers to campus. It is meant to be a major resource for the activities of student organizations throughout the academic year. It is also meant to help organizations understand the rules in advance. As a member of the HLS community you are responsible for knowing the information contained herein. 

Definition: A student organization is any group of students who join together for a specific, legitimate, common purpose which is in alignment with Harvard’s mission. See How do I create a new organization? on how to become an official student organization. Organizations without official status may not represent themselves as student organizations or avail themselves of the privileges afforded to a student organization. No student organization may hold itself to be an official representative of Harvard Law School or Harvard University but must identify itself as a student organization of Harvard Law School. Only those organizations that comply with the requirements of this section may be officially recognized by HLS.

To be officially recognized, all organizations must have a President or Chair, and a Treasurer or specifically designated person(s) who performs the budget and accounting functions.Because of the HLS budget and fiscal year, individuals who serve as financial officers must hold office for the entire academic year (through June 30) even after the election of new financial 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 have an official contact person (this person may be an elected President or Chair of the organization) who is responsible for the actions of the organization and who is able to meet with the Dean of Students staff.  The names and e-mail addresses of all newly elected officers must be submitted to the Dean of Students Office each spring.  Funds for the organization will not be released until the Dean of Students Office has the current list of officers.

Below are links to information that outlines some essential knowledge on running a student organization at HLS. The topics include information from policies to parties.

We know that although extensive, the information may not cover every question that arises. Please do not hesitate to email the Dean of Students Office with any Student Organization related questions.