Policies, Guidelines and Legal Opinions


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

60-Day Window Policy

To encourage maximum member attendance and business partner support at ALA conferences, chapters should refrain from scheduling major or special educational programs to be held within 100 miles of any ALA conference during the period 30 days preceding and following the ALA conference. 

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 to avoid scheduling conflicts. Routine chapter or section meetings are not impacted by this policy.

Questions should be directed to [email protected].

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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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Chapter Performance Objectives

Every ALA chapter is held to a set of standards established by the ALA Board of Directors. These Chapter Performance Objectives promote effective chapter management by encouraging chapters to meet the professional development needs of their members and adhere to essential financial and legal responsibilities. 

The objectives encourage chapters to plan effectively and set annual goals that support the Association's Strategic Plan, develop collaborative efforts to strengthen the flow of information through all levels of the Association, and promote unity throughout the Association.

Beginning in 2019, every chapter will be required to attest to its compliance with these objectives as part of the existing chapter compliance initiative that occurs annually (usually in July).

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Chapter Review of Provisionally Approved Member Applications 

In alignment with the approved bylaws governing the Association, ALA recognizes and supports the need to work with its chapters to provide a consistent, harmonious and positive member experience for all applicants who desire to apply for and receive membership in ALA and its chapters. Toward that objective, ALA will notify the chapter president or designated chapter representative of the provisional approval of each application for membership, provide a copy of the provisionally-approved member profile and notify the chapter of the process to respond if it questions the new member’s eligibility under ALA Bylaws. The full policy is available for review.

Questions regarding this policy should be directed to [email protected].

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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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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 [email protected]. 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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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 [email protected].

Download: Model Chapter Bylaws 2019

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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Phishing Scams Targeting ALA Chapters

ALA Chapters have been the target of the occasional phishing scam.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when handling sensitive chapter information:

Verify the identity of the sender. If the sender’s email address isn’t one you are used to seeing reach, out to the individual via phone for verification.

Never access chapter accounts using links sent via e-mail. Links, while convenient, can be problematic. Always access the website of your financial institution directly through your web browser. Similarly, never share account numbers via e-mail.

Check all chapter accounts regularly. Monitoring account activity regularly is the best way to ensure account security.  

Act quickly. If you discover your chapter has fallen victim to a scam, contact your financial institution and local authorities immediately. They will be your best resource to address the situation.

Additional tips are available in this Phishing Scam Alert written by ALA's legal counsel.
Contact [email protected] with any questions.

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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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Social Media Guidelines

At ALA, we understand that social media can be a fun and rewarding way to share your association involvement with family, friends and co-workers around the world. However, when you are in a position to represent ALA (such as creating and/or posting content through your chapter or committee account), use of social media also presents certain risks and carries with it certain responsibilities. To assist you in making responsible decisions about your use of social media, we have established guidelines.

ALA Social Media Guidelines are intended for use by all members of ALA, but especially chapter presidents and other association leaders, as members will look to you as an example. Please be sure to share this document with your chapter and committee members who curate your social media.

As a reminder, each issue of Just the Facts includes social media posts that your chapter can use. Contact [email protected] with any questions.

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