Applying to Form a New Group

Please find this information in a PDF form here.

The Columbia Law School Student Senate seeks to encourage the existence of a diverse offering of activities and associations that augment a student’s law school experience. Student organizations provide important opportunities to students during their law school careers to participate in interesting events and projects and exercise positions of leadership that may both enrich and enlighten their Columbia legal education.

Recognition allows student leaders to be contacted by the Senate and Student Services with important information and helps ensure that Student Activity Fee funds are used to benefit all law school students and that groups are organized to enrich the social and general welfare of the students.

Several benefits attend recognition, including:

  • A email account, and the Student Organization News and Information (SONI) system
  • Access to Student Activity Fee funding;
  • and Access to the room reservation system
To apply, please fill out the following linked form.

Before applying, please familiarize yourself with the following information.

You should be familiar with Student Services' CLS Student Organization Handbook and The Guidelines (VI.B of the Student Senate By-Laws).  

For example, you must demonstrate that you won’t be redundant to an existing student group and that your existence will benefit our community.

1. Membership must be open to AND limited to all law school students.

2. Your spending will be audited by the Student Senate Budget Committee.

3. Leaders must also be members of the organization.

4. Recognized organizations may not be officially subject to another University authority (e.g., no Law School chapters of Business School organizations).

5. Recognition may be withdrawn for violation of the Student Senate Constitution/By-Laws, any other University or Law School regulation, or your group's own constitution/by-laws.

Beneficial Purpose Requirement. 

According to the Senate By-Laws, the proposed organization MUST have a purpose that is "sufficiently related to the law school community and sufficiently unrelated to the purpose of any other recognized organization so as to offer a distinct benefit to a substantial number of law school students." 

When thinking about this, try:

- Listing currently recognized organizations that seem most REDUNDANT.

- Ask whether the proposed organization can effectively achieve its purpose by working with an existing organization.

- Listing currently recognized organizations that seem the most ANALOGOUS but DIFFERENT (e.g., for a Texas Society, consider the California Society (a.k.a., CalSoc)).

- Ask whether the proposed organization's activities or services will be analogous. Organizational documents (proposed and existing) will aid this inquiry.

- Asking how much interest the proposed organization has already received (e.g., number of members, inquiries, etc.).

- How many active members does the proposed organization anticipate in a WORST-case Scenario? In a BEST-case scenario? Please verify your assertions and predictions, as the Committee is likely to test them.

- Budgetary implications of recognition. The Committee will carefully examine proposed organization applications and ask difficult questions, such as why Organization X cannot work through existing (and very similar) Organization Y to achieve its purposes.

Please note that all students who are thinking about starting a new student organization should attend Student Services’ “Student Organization Training,” which is usually held in September every year.
  • Step 1: The Senate's Recognition Committee will review your application and will determine whether to recommend your new student organization for recognition by the Student Senate.  
  • Step 2: If your new student organization receives a favorable recommendation from the Recognition Committee, the Senate will vote on the Committee's recommendation at its next full meeting. You will be invited to present at the meeting, there will be a short question period, then a vote. 
  • Step 3: If the Recognition Committee DOES NOT recommend that the Senate recognize your group you will have the opportunity to amend your application in light of the explanation for rejection provided by the Parliamentarian and the Recognition Committee will review any amended applications and produce a final recommendation.  The Senate will vote on both favorable and unfavorable recommendations of the Committee at the next meeting designated for these appeals.  You may appeal the recognition committee's vote, or the Senate vote at the following senate meeting.

Under the Senate Bylaws (VI.C.1), you must submit the three items described below.

  1. This linked application form
  2. A list of at least 12 founding and active members (name, class years, UNI & email addresses). Please identify OFFICERS by title, especially those responsible for finances and record keeping.  A president and a treasurer are recommended. The committee may waive the requirement of at least 12 founding members "upon a group's showing that its beneficial purpose does not require a standing membership." (This is a recent change and was intended by the senate to create a high bar; Deans’ Cup and Bar Review, for example, were cited when approving this change.)
  3. A suitable constitution, please name the documents ORGNAME_CONSTITUTION_YEAR (e.g. SENATE_CONSTITUTION_2024)

According to the Senate’s bylaws (VI.B.2), your Constitution and/or bylaws MUST contain the following:

A. The organization’s name,

B. A clear statement of the organization's purpose,

C. The requirements for membership and leadership,

D. The procedure for selecting and removing leadership,

E. The duties of leadership,

F. The procedure for arriving at decisions (e.g., majority voting), and

G. The Senate’s Nondiscrimination Policy (bylaws VI.B.5). This is VERY IMPORTANT; the language must be included VERBATIM, or by section reference to the Senate's by-laws. The Senate will make no exceptions to this requirement, which was added in 2008 when an organization was accused of discriminating on the basis of religious affiliation.

Please find a blank example constitution here.

To answer some questions, these resources will be helpful:

Partial list of existing groups with details (scroll to bottom to see a list of groups)

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the academic year. Once approved by the Recognition committee, the group will be invited to present at the next available Senate meeting.