Last Updated: March 18, 2017

CLS LALSA Constitution

Article I: Name and Purpose


Section 1: Name of the Organization

The organization shall be known as the Latino Law Students Association, hereinafter referred to as LaLSA.


Section 2: Purpose and Goals of the Organization

As a community, LaLSA strives to provide a welcoming and nurturing environment to Columbia Law School students through social, cultural, academic, and career opportunities. As an organization, LaLSA actively strengthens the presence of Latinos in the legal profession, works to increase the attendance of Latino students at Columbia Law School, and supports the broader Latino community.


Section 3: Non-Discrimination Policy

Membership and leadership shall be open to all Columbia Law School students without regard to race, ethnicity, color, national origin, age, handicap or disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, political affiliation, or the general exercise of a student’s right of free speech or association. This is in accordance with the Student Senate Nondiscrimination Policy set forth in Section 6(B)(5) of the Senate’s Bylaws.


Article II: Membership


Section 1: Requirements for Membership

Membership shall be open to all Columbia Law School students


Section 2: Schedule of Dues

a. Dues will be assessed either on a yearly basis or on a total sum for more than one school year. Any member wishing to acquire a membership for more than one year after their first year of Law School will receive credit for their first year’s payment. Dues for any prospective member may be waived by the Treasurer upon petition and a showing of financial need. Such waivers shall only be granted for the concurrent academic year.


b. Dues shall be calculated yearly by the Treasurer, approved by the Executive Board, and officially announced to the membership by the Treasurer no later than 30 days after the start of 2L and 3L classes.


c. The Treasurer is to keep electronic records of all dues that have been paid during the course of his or her tenure in office. The Treasurer is to provide that information to his or her successor.


Article III: Nominations and Elections of Officers


Section 1: Qualifications for Officers

a. All officers must be dues-paying members of LaLSA and students in good standing at Columbia Law School.


b. No LaLSA member can hold more than one elected office within the organization at one time. However, an elected officer may simultaneously hold an appointed position.


c. Non-Discrimination: The organization’s membership and leadership policy is in accordance with the Student Senate Nondiscrimination Policy set forth in Section 6(B)(5) of the Senate’s Bylaws.


Section 2: Management of Elections

The President, Vice President, and Secretary shall be charged with the management of new board elections. If the President, Vice President, or Secretary is simultaneously a candidate for office, s/he shall be excluded from management of elections, and a non-running Board member will replace him/her.


Section 3: Nomination Procedure

a. For all elections except those of the 1L Representative, the nominations period shall be announced and begin no less than 30 days prior to the date of elections. For the 1L Representative election, the nominations period shall begin and be announced no less than 10 days prior to the date of the election.


b. Email nominations shall be sent to the President up until four days prior to the election. Nominations may be made on behalf of oneself, or for another. All nominations made for another require the President to confirm this nomination with the nominee. Only upon acceptance of the nomination will the individual become a candidate.


c. Nominations will not be accepted For the office of the President from the floor on Election Day in light of Section 6(c).


Section 4: Time of Elections

a. Elections for all officers, except 1L Representatives, shall be held during the two week period following the last Monday in March. The Executive Board must decide the specific date and notify the membership of this date no less than 30 days prior to the date of elections.


b. Elections for 1L Representatives shall be held before October 1st of each year.


Section 5: Balloting Procedures

Dignity, fairness and efficiency shall be the governing criteria in the conduct of elections. Voting shall be by secret ballot, with only one position and its candidates listed in each individual ballot. Ballots shall be collected and tabulated by the President, Vice President and Secretary. The results shall be announced as soon as the ballots have been counted. However, the specific numerical results shall be kept secret.


Section 6: Voting and Run-off Elections


a. Eligibility: All dues-paying LaLSA members shall be entitled to vote.


b. Election and run-offs: A simple majority of the votes cast is required to elect. If no candidate achieves a majority, a run-off election shall be held between the candidates receiving the two highest vote totals. This process will continue until there is a majority winner. Blank votes will not count against a majority. Run-off elections for any office shall take place immediately after the initial balloting for the office and in the same manner as prescribed in Section 5 of this Article.


c. Proxy voting shall be allowed for the Presidential candidate. Members wishing to vote by proxy must register their ballot with the current President or the Vice President in writing, in a signed, sealed envelope specifying the office and the person who is to receive the vote for that particular office. Such votes shall only count if the person named is a candidate for that office, i.e., general votes for an individual are not valid.


d. Should exceptional circumstances present themselves, and upon a majority decision by the current Executive Board, additional proxy votes may be accepted. Exceptional circumstances include, but are not limited to, a last minute change in election meeting time, date or location.


Section 7: Election Disputes and Appeals


a. All disputed elections, nominations, balloting and all matters pertaining to nominations and elections not covered by this Constitution shall be decided by the out-going Executive Board. All such disputes must be presented within three (3) days of the election. Any determination by the out-going Executive Board will be by majority vote of the out-going Executive Board members. If these deciding bodies cannot make a ruling, subsection (c) applies.


b. The complaining party shall have the right to meet with the deciding bodies prior to their making a ruling on the complaint.


c. Appeal-Appeals from the determination of the deciding bodies shall be heard by the membership. The membership must be notified at least four (4) days prior to the meeting at which the appeal will be heard and the general meeting will be heard within five (5) days. At this meeting, the complaining party shall be given five minutes to explain the basis of the complaint. A question/answer period shall follow. A successful appeal requires a 2/3 vote of members present.


Article IV: Elected and Appointed Officers


Section 1: Elected Officers


a. Executive Board – All officers listed in this Section are members of the Executive Board. This Board shall meet a minimum of four times per academic semester. The meetings are to be presided over by the President. The President may call a meeting of the Executive Board. A member of the Executive Board may also present a motion at an Executive Board Meeting or via email to the Executive Board calling for an Executive Board meeting at a certain date. If said motion is adopted by a majority vote, then a meeting will be called. In the President’s absence, the Vice President will preside. Matters regarding minutes and agenda setting shall be left to the discretion of the board. The President has the authority to appoint someone to the Executive Board under exigent circumstances (such as resignation). The President’s appointment must be confirmed by the Executive Board with a majority vote. Dues-paying members shall have the opportunity to appeal the President's decision within ten (10) days of the General Body Meeting in which the full Board is introduced.


b. President – The President serves as a liaison between LaLSA and the administration and faculty; serves as a liaison between LaLSA and law firms; will be the conduit for all emails sent through the official LaLSA email; supervise the activities of the other Executive Board positions; and, preside over all Executive Board meetings and general membership meetings.


c. Vice President The Vice President serves as a liaison between LaLSA and other student organizations; oversees all activities of the Columbia LaLSA Banquet Chair(s), and Publicity Chair; and, takes on the President’s duties in his/her absence.


d. Treasurer – The Treasurer is responsible for setting, collecting and depositing all dues; overseeing all fundraisers, including collection of the money raised, recording of the details of the event, and ensuring that all money is properly deposited; making all Senate budget requests and appeals in a timely manner; implementing and following the reimbursement and letter of credit policy; and, creating and disseminating monthly budget reports detailing all events and the amount allocated for each.


e. Secretary – The Secretary is responsible for reserving space and coordinating food for all general meetings; printing and disseminating agenda at all meetings; taking and disseminating minutes for general meetings no later than seven days after the meeting occurred; sending same-day announcement of open events to all students via Student Services; and maintaining the LaLSA bulletin board.


f. Academics Chair – The Academics Chair is charged with administering the academic mentoring program for LaLSA 1Ls; holding a minimum of 2 informative sessions regarding academic decisions and success for LaLSA 1Ls; collecting, updating, and sharing outlines on the LaLSA Outline Bank, recording the holdings of all LaLSA community books; and, administering the LaLSA Library for book lending and returns throughout the academic year.


g. Admissions Chair – The Admissions Chair is responsible for all correspondence between LaLSA and Latino perspective or admitted students; serving as a liaison to Admissions in securing LaLSA volunteers for admission trips, events, and phonathons; chairing an Admissions Committee of LaLSA members willing to serve as Admission volunteers; coordinating all Admitted Students Day events in the spring semester; and, organizing the mentoring program between Columbia College Latino pre-laws and LaLSA 1Ls.


h. Banquet/Alumni Chairs – This position is to be held by two people. The Banquet/Alumni Chairs are responsible for LaLSA Banquet. These responsibilities include establishing a vision for the Banquet and beginning fundraising from law firms immediately after accepting the position. This position involves working closely with the Banquet honorees and making sure they receive all accommodations and support in order to assure their attendance. Additionally, this position involves keeping an up-to-date list of all alumni and making sure they are made aware of events happening at Columbia Law School involving LaLSA and outside the law school. Also, the position involves co-planning the BLSA/LaLSA Graduation at the end of the year. Executes the fall semester funding drive, including writing the alumni letter, coordinating with the Alumni Development Office, and tracking all responses; and, deposits all alumni and banquet checks received.



i. Social Justice Chair – The Social Justice Chair is charged with organizing Pro Bono hours for the LaLSA membership as well as the LaLSA Pro Bono Caravan; serving as a liaison between LaLSA and public interest organizations. The position is also responsible for at least two events per year dealing with issues of importance to the Latin@/a community.


j. Social Chairs (2) – The Social Chairs are responsible for holding a minimum of two informal social events per semester for LaLSA members; coordinating the LaLSA 1L Orientation social event; serving as members on the Admissions Committee; and, offering support to the 1L Representatives in planning their spring semester event.


k. 1L Representative – The 1L Representative is to serve as a general representative for the 1L membership; disseminate information to 1Ls regarding LALSA; publicize LALSA events to the 1L class and ; participate in planning at least one spring semester event


l. 3L Representative– The 3L Representative is to serve as a general representative for the 3L membership; disseminate information to 3Ls regarding LALSA; publicize LALSA events to the 3L class; help coordinate sharing of class outlines from 2/3Ls to 1Ls; and help organize at least one event over the course of the academic year.


Section 2: Appointed Officers


1. Appointed Officers will be appointed by the incoming Executive Board before summer vacation. They will be supervised by the Vice President, but will not be required to attend board meetings or fulfill other Executive Board functions.


a. Professional Development Chair: Private Sector – The Professional Development Chair is responsible for acting as a liaison between LaLSA and legal employers in the private sector, and LaLSA and their firm sponsors, including organizing sponsorship dinner and events. The Professional Development Chair will coordinate with employers who have donated at the requisite level during both semesters to set up networking events for LaLSA members.


b. Professional Development Chair: Public Interest – The Professional Development Chair: Public interest is responsible for acting as a liaison between LaLSA and public interest employers, and LaLSA and Social Justice Initiatives. The position is responsible in disseminating information regarding the Public Interest Fellowship application and public-interest scholarship. The Professional Development Chair: Public Interest is also responsible for organizing at least one event per semester supporting our membership’s pursuit of careers in the public interest sector.


c. Publicity Chair- the Publicity Chair is charged with updating and maintaining the LaLSA Website, including uploading photographs of recent events. This includes requesting material from all members.


Section 3: Removal of Officers


a. Inquiry of Officer


1) Upon request to the Secretary, or to the Vice President if the Secretary be the subject of the request, by any member outlining the reasons thereof, the Secretary may address a general letter of inquiry to any LaLSA officer to determine the reason or reasons such officer has failed to properly perform the duties of his/her office. Such letter be delivered to the officer in question.


2) Where the officer under inquiry makes no response to the initial letter, a second letter in writing shall be addressed to that officer and delivered in person giving notice of the specific charges of nonfeasance or malfeasance and giving an opportunity to answer these charges.


b. Removal of Officer


1) Upon the affirmative vote of a three-fifth majority of officers then in office, the Secretary, or Vice President if the Secretary be the subject of the removal, shall address a letter to such officer(s) advising them of their failure of performance of assumed and assigned duties, and notifying them of their removal from office. Any communications regarding a removal of any officer will be the responsibility of the Secretary.


2) Anyone removed under the provisions of this Article has the right to appeal to the general membership for reinstatement. Such appeals shall be conducted according to the following procedure:


A. Notice of desire to appeal must be given in writing to a member of the Executive Board no later than a week after removal.


B. When: Appeal shall take place at a special meeting within a week after notice of appeal.


C. Procedure: the appellant shall be granted ten minutes to explain the reasons for his/her removal. The Executive Board shall then appoint someone to explain the reasons for removal. This shall be followed by a period of questions and answers.


D. Reinstatement: Appellant shall be reinstated by a 2/3 vote. Such vote shall be by secret ballot counted by an ad-hoc committee that shall be composed of one representative from each class selected by consensus of those present. Such representatives cannot be members of the Executive Board. Only members of LaLSA who have paid their dues as of the date of mailing of the second letter of inquiry shall be eligible to vote for the reinstatement.


Article V: Meetings


Section 1: Notice and Frequency


The Executive Board shall schedule a minimum of three general meetings each academic year, and shall provide all members notice of time and place for each meeting at least seven days prior to the event.


Section 2: Operation

Dignity, fairness and efficiency shall be the governing principles at all LaLSA meetings. The President shall preside over all meetings. In the President’s absence, the Vice President shall preside.


Section 3: Record Keeping

The Secretary shall be responsible for disseminating the meeting agenda at each meeting. No later than ten days after the meeting, the Secretary shall also disseminate the meeting minutes to the membership, after their approval by the President.


Article VI: Financial Policies


Section 1: Reimbursement Policy

Reimbursements will only be given for events approved by the LaLSA Executive Board prior to their occurrence. The total reimbursements for any given event cannot exceed the total allocated for the event, as stated in the monthly Treasurer Report. Any reimbursement above the allocated amount must be recommended by the Treasurer and approved by the Vice President.


a. Reimbursement through Student Services – These “reimbursements” may be accomplished through a post-payment reimbursement request, or through use of a Letter of Credit as the payment method.


1) To request a post-payment reimbursement through Student Services, a member must first fill-out the Inter-LaLSA Reimbursement Form and submit it along with a copy of the expense receipt(s) to the Treasurer. The member will then be given an email confirmation of the Treasurer’s approval, along with the LaLSA account number. The account number is to be used by the member in requesting said reimbursement through the Student Services Form. The requirements for the Student Services form are to be followed in the listed chronology for final reimbursement to occur.


2) To request the use of a Letter of Credit, a member must first gain the approval of the Treasurer. To do so, the member should email the Treasurer their name, the name of the event, the date of the event, the vendor for which the Letter is sought, and the estimated amount of the purchase. Upon receipt of this information, the Treasurer will consider the request in light of the allocated amount for said event and notify the member in no more than 5 business days of the request. If the Treasurer approves of the request, the confirmation email will include the LaLSA account number which the member can then use in a Letter of Credit request through Student Services for said expense. However, if the Treasurer denies the request, the denial must be in writing and give reasons for such decision. The member can then appeal such decision through an appeal – submitted to the Vice President and considered at the next Executive Board meeting, but no later than 14 days after the initial request was made. The decision by the Executive Board will be by a 2/3 majority, communicated in writing to the member, and is final.


b. Reimbursement through LaLSA Cash-Box – To request a reimbursement through the LaLSA Cash-Box, a member must fill-out the Inter-LaLSA Reimbursement Form and submit it along with a copy of the expense receipt(s) to the Treasurer.


1) If the request is approved, the member will be given the requested amount in cash no later than 14 business days after such request is received by the Treasurer.


2) If a request is denied, the Treasurer must communicate their reasons in writing to the requesting member no later than 14 business days after such request. To contest this denial, the member may write an appeal – submitted to the Vice President and considered at the next Executive Board meeting, but no later than 30 days after the initial request was made. The decision by the Executive Board will be by a 2/3 majority, communicated in writing to the member, and is final.


c. To use the LaLSA account number with university departments, a member must first gain the approval of the Treasurer. To do so, the member should email the Treasurer their name, the name of the event, the date of the event, the department for which the Letter is sought, and the estimated amount of the expense. Upon receipt of this information, the Treasurer will consider the request in light of the allocated amount for said event and notify the member in no more than 3 business days of the request. If the Treasurer approves of the request, the confirmation email will include the LaLSA account number which the member can then use for said expense. However, if the Treasurer denies the request, the denial must be in writing and give reasons for such decision. The member can then appeal such decision through an appeal – submitted to the Vice President and considered at the next Executive Board meeting, but no later than 14 days after the initial request was made. The decision by the Executive Board will be by a 2/3 majority, communicated in writing to the member, and is final.


Article VII: Adoption and Amendments of Constitution and Adoption of Resolutions


Section 1: Adoption and Effective Date of this Constitution

The Constitution shall be adopted by a 2/3 vote of members present at the Constitutional Convention and shall become effective immediately subject to exceptions taken by the Senate.


Section 2: Amendment of the Constitution

a. Proposed amendments must be submitted to the Executive board in writing at least seven (7) school days prior to consideration by membership. The Executive Board then has the responsibility to distribute copies of the proposed amendments to the members at least four (4) school days before consideration. Notice of the date of consideration shall also be provided.

b. The sponsor(s) of the proposed amendment shall be given at least five minutes to address the members at the meeting, and opportunity shall be provided for questions and answers.

c. Voting: Proposed amendments are ratified by a 2/3 majority vote in favor by the dues-paying membership present at the meeting where the amendments are considered.


Section 3: Adoption of Resolutions

Resolutions as to the opinion or position of the Organization as to any issue of concern to its membership shall be adopted by a majority vote of those present at a general meeting.