President of a community without borders

Salvo Arena LL.M. ’00

HLSA Salvo Arena LL.M. ’00 (HLB Fall 2014)

Salvo Arena LL.M. ’00

Every two years, the Harvard Law School Association appoints a new president to oversee an organization aimed at fostering engagement and community among the nearly 38,000 alumni living in 148 countries around the world. In June, the HLSA passed the mantle from outgoing President Paul Perito ’64 to Salvo Arena LL.M. ’00. An Italian attorney practicing in New York City, Arena is just the third non-U.S. graduate of Harvard Law School to be president of the 128-year-old organization.

Arena, who attended Harvard as an LL.M. student after receiving a J.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of Catania in Italy, is a believer in the power of HLS connections. He recalled attending a conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, earlier this year and meeting a fellow attendee who happened to be the president of the HLSA chapter in Russia. “The bond between us was immediate,” Arena said. “At that point, it wasn’t about him being Russian and me being Italian, or anything else happening in the world. It was just about being a part of the Harvard Law School.”

Arena, who is now the managing partner of the New York City office of the Italian law firm Chiomenti Studio Legale, has been deeply involved with the HLSA since graduating. He began with the HLSA of Europe, where he organized events including one in Sicily in 2006 that was attended by then Dean Elena Kagan ’86. Over the years, he has made it a priority to stay involved with the Alumni Association. “Non-U.S. people really feel, even many years after graduation, very proud and very honored to have been part of the Harvard Law School,” he said. “So to that extent I wanted to be very active, committed, and to give my time, thoughts, and contributions to connect as many people as possible.”

Arena stressed the importance of the Harvard network and the benefits both professional and personal of staying invested in the community after graduation. He noted that every time he arrives in a new place, even on vacation, he seeks out the local HLS alumni. He lauded the many friends he has made over the years as well as the opportunities for networking available through HLSA connections.

In his own work on international deals, for example, he said he often finds himself drawing on the community of HLS lawyers when he needs to retain local counsel around the world: “I definitely feel more comfortable to involve first a friend and second someone from Harvard Law School.”

In the future, Arena hopes that the HLSA will continue to expand by fostering both new local and international HLSA clubs as well as its shared interest groups, such as the thriving Women’s Alliance (with 15 chapters around the world), the Recent Graduates Council and the Latino Committee.

“It’s an amazing community,” he said, “with no geographical borders.”