Policies, Guidelines and Legal Opinions

Chapter leaders and members should be familiar with the following association policies that may influence their local activities.

Model Chapter Bylaws

Chapters are encouraged to use the Model Chapter Bylaws as a reference and/or template when making any revisions to their bylaws. Remember to forward all proposed changes to ALA Headquarters for review before putting them to the chapter's membership for vote. Direct questions regarding chapter bylaws to chapters@alanet.org.

Download: Model Chapter Bylaws (.docx)

Please note: This document indicates changes made from the previous version of the model chapter bylaws (dated 2012) to the current version. It can be used as a visual aid when amending chapter bylaws.

Performance Objectives for Chapters

The Presidents' Award of Excellence program was recently revamped by ALA's Board of Directors based on feedback from ALA chapters. The new guidelines, intended to eliminate the need for additional performance objectives and checklists, promote effective chapter management by encouraging chapters to meet or exceed their members' professional development needs while adhering to essential financial and legal responsibilities.

These guidelines also encourage chapters to plan effectively and set annual goals that support the Association's Visions and Goals, develop collaborative efforts to strengthen the flow of information throughout all levels of the association, and promote unity throughout the association.

Items listed as "required" must be completed by all chapters.

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Benefits Program Policy Statement

Any ALA chapter that wishes to enter into an agreement with a benefit provider must obtain written approval from ALA Headquarters.

Chapters can secure approval when the proposed agreement complements, and is not in competition with, existing or proposed contracts of the parent organization. Current chapter benefit programs may be renewed with prior written approval from headquarters. Approval to renew the agreement can be granted if the agreement does not compete with existing or proposed contracts of the parent organization.

Chapter leaders should refer vendors who are interested in establishing nationwide and/or international benefit programs to headquarters.

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60-Day Window Policy

In May 2016, ALA's Board of Directors voted to reinstate the 60-Day Window Policy effective January 1, 2017. This policy states:

To encourage maximum member attendance and business partner support at ALA conferences, chapters should refrain from scheduling major or special educational programs during the period 30 days preceding and following the Annual Conference & Expo and the Regional Legal Management Conferences held within 100 miles of the chapter's primary location as identified in the chapter's bylaws.

During the same 60-day window, chapters should also refrain from scheduling major or special activities that generate chapter revenue from, or are substantially funded by, business partner dollars. Chapter events held at or surrounding ALA conferences should be coordinated with ALA headquarters and the Regional Leadership Team to avoid scheduling conflicts. Routine chapter or section meetings are not impacted by this policy.

Questions should be directed to chapters@alanet.org.

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Endorsements

In 1987, the ALA Board of Directors ruled that "neither the international association nor a chapter will endorse products or services unless prior approval has been granted by the board of the international association."

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Music Licensing

A copyright law exists that requires permission from a licensing agency be obtained for any music played at a conference or meeting. This applies to all music whether taped or mechanical (radio, CDs, video background music, etc.). It is the responsibility of each chapter to be in compliance with the law when music will be played at any activity. The two major licensing agencies have begun to actively enforce this law, and they are filing suits as a part of this enforcement.

ALA International is licensed with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). However, each chapter is legally required to be licensed as well. The cost is minimal. To obtain the appropriate licenses, click on the links provided.

Chapters should inform their business partners of this requirement if music is to be used as part of their booth, as the onus is on the business partners to be in compliance separately.

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Public Speaking/Media Relations

The ALA Board views this Association as a logical source of information regarding the philosophy, theory and practice of law office management and the primary source of information regarding legal administrators, their work and their profession.

For that reason, the Board encourages its members, officers and other volunteer leaders to take steps to increase the visibility and prestige of the association and to publish substantive articles on legal management, as well as articles about legal administration and the association in the publications of these groups and in the legal press. Individuals are encouraged to identify their ALA affiliation when carrying out these activities.

These actions should be undertaken within the following guidelines:

  • The President shall be ALA's official spokesperson vis-à-vis the media. All media inquiries will be referred to the President unless the Board has specifically authorized another to speak on behalf of the association.
  • The President and the Board shall be kept informed of mailings sent to the media and other ALA projects carried on by volunteers and staff involving the media.
  • Unless specifically authorized by the President and/or the Board to speak on behalf of the association, officers and other activists are to make clear that any positions which they express when speaking before or working with nonmembers are either a) officially enunciated ALA policies, or b) are expressed as their own belief.

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Chapter Review of Provisionally Approved Member Applications 

This policy confers 30-day provisional approval on all new ALA members. As part of the chapter notification process for all newly approved provisional members, chapters have the ability to provide additional information to ALA pertaining to each member’s eligibility if they disagree with ALA’s provisional approval decision. The full policy is available for review.

Questions regarding this policy should be directed to membership@alanet.org.

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Legal Services and Opinions

Chapters may need to seek legal advice from time to time, particularly on contractual matters and sometimes on tax and incorporation issues as well. Local firms (and particularly those with an ALA member) will usually donate moderate amounts of time to assist or advise the chapter. However, if the chapter has questions regarding bylaws or survey reviews, contact chapters@alanet.org. If necessary, legal counsel will be retained at no charge to the chapter.

Chapters are responsible for retaining local counsel for matters not related to bylaws or surveys.

Over the years, ALA's legal counsel has prepared the following legal opinions. These opinions are intended to serve only as guidelines and do not constitute legal advice. Be sure to consult with local counsel, as each chapter’s situation is unique.

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