Experience

Fraternal Law Partners

The professionals of Fraternal Law Partners have a combined experience of more than 70 years of representing fraternities, sororities and other similar groups of students, professionals and other nonprofit organizations.  Our experience is broad-based yet simultaneously deep.  We can handle any issue a Greek organization may encounter.

Relationship with Host Institutions
  • Routinely represent national organizations and their local chapters regarding their relationships with specific colleges and universities.
  • Worked with NIC Document Review Committee to draft proposed Model Relationship Statement memorializing the rights, duties and expectations of fraternity and host institution.
  • Represented a national organization in litigation against a house corporation and a university regarding the proceeds of the sale of a chapter house.
  • Successfully protected the First Amendment Freedom of Association rights of a chapter and its individual members against a major state university.
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Relationship with Members
  • Defended a national woman’s fraternity against a claim of wrongful disciplinary process when a former member was expelled from the fraternity.
  • Defended Phi Delta Theta’s enactment and enforcement of its Alcohol-Free Housing Policy from a legal challenge by some former members. Also successfully defended Phi Delta Theta’s expulsion of individual former members and the suspension of a chapter’s charter.
  • Frequently assist fraternities with investigations of hazing or other prohibited conduct, while advising on chapter discipline alternatives and communicating with interested third parties such as the host institution.
  • Frequently represent fraternal groups with disciplinary matters involving their own members. Such representation includes advising on correct procedures, responding when necessary to parents of, or lawyers for, members subject to discipline, and defending such disciplinary actions in court.
  • Conduct educational programs on a wide variety of topics including alcohol abuse, hazing, risk management and other issues at national and regional conferences and conventions, and on college campuses, either in campus-wide presentations, or at specific chapter meetings.
  • Regularly consult and advise clients and their members so that their conduct and operations avoid litigation.
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Relationship with House Corporations
  • Devised and implemented fraternity project to consolidate corporate control of local house corporations into national housing corporation and fraternity, while delegating day-to-day, operational control of chapter house operations to local officers and board members.
  • Represented a national organization in litigation against a house corporation regarding the proceeds of the sale of a chapter house.
  • Regularly review, draft and implement grant agreements, including educational area grant agreements for the construction and renovation of chapter housing.
  • Regularly provide development counsel to fraternities and house corporations in connection with new chapter housing development.
  • Regularly draft or revise house corporation governing documents, such as bylaws and articles of incorporation.
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First Amendment Rights
  • Successfully protected the First Amendment Freedom of Association rights of a chapter against a major state university.
  • Drafted and filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the NIC and NPC in federal court in litigation seeking to protect single-sex organizations.
  • Consult and advise on First Amendment Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association Rights of student groups, especially fraternities and sororities. We litigate these matters where necessary.
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Tax
  • Organize and obtain federal tax exemption for national and local foundations and national and local house corporations.
  • Obtained split listing for real property tax exemption for foundation owned headquarters facility partially leased to fraternity.
  • Routinely help foundations comply nationwide with state registration requirements for charitable solicitation.
  • Regularly advise fraternities regarding the establishment and use of set-aside funds.
  • Regularly review, draft and implement grant agreements memorializing educational grants from foundations to fraternities and house corporations including educational area grant agreements for the construction and renovation of chapter housing.
  • Advised several foundations on the development of national headquarters including lease and shared operations agreements with related fraternities.
  • Represent national organizations, house corporations and chapters with respect to IRS audits.
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General Matters
  • Serve as general counsel to multiple fraternities and foundations, handling a diverse array of issues as they arise.
  • Assist clients in finding appropriate solutions to problems that preserve the principles of the organizations involved while finding appropriate compromises that avoid litigation. Sometimes litigation cannot be avoided, as when it becomes necessary to defend the expulsion of a member for serious conduct violations of the organization’s rules, college regulations or civil and criminal laws.
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Service and Outreach
  • Publish the nationally recognized Fraternal Law Newsletter four times an academic year for the last 31 years. Fraternal Law covers a wide variety of topics relating to colleges and universities and the Greek systems on campuses throughout the country.
  • Hosted 13 well-attended national Fraternal Law Conferences. The Conference will be held annually beginning in 2012.
  • Manage and monitor the National Anti-Hazing Hotline, which is sponsored by 37 national fraternities and sororities. The Hotline, advertised nationally by the sponsors, provides individuals with the ability to either anonymously or with their name and contact information report suspected instances of hazing. An audio file is then sent to the national offices of the fraternity involved, along with the hazing law for the state where the incident is reported to have occurred or is suspected to be occurring. In the event the report does not involve a fraternity but another group, or a local fraternity without national affiliation, the information is reported to the college or university involved.
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© 2012 Fraternal Law Partners. All rights reserved. A Division of Manley Burke