Dissolved organic matter (DOM) represents the major pool of organic precursors for harmful disinfection byproducts, such as haloacetic acids (HAAs), formed during drinking water chlorination, but much of it remains molecularly uncharacterized. Knowledge of model precursors is thus a prerequisite for understanding the more complex whole water DOM. The utility of HAA formation potential data from model DOM precursors, however, is limited due to the lack of comparability to water samples. In this study, the formation kinetics of dichloroacetic acid (DCAA) and trichloroacetic acid (TCAA), the two predominant HAA species, were delineated upon chlorination of seventeen model DOM precursors and sixty-eight inland lake water samples collected from the Upper Midwest region of the United States. Of particular interest was the finding that the DCAA and TCAA formation rate constants could be grouped into four statistically distinct clusters reflecting the core structural features of model DOM precursors (i.e., non-β-diketone aliphatics, β-diketone aliphatics, non-β-diketone phenolics, and β-diketone phenolics). A comparative approach built upon hierarchical cluster analysis was developed to gain further insight into the chlorine reactivity patterns of HAA precursors in inland lake waters as defined by the relative proximity to four model precursor clusters. This work highlights the potential for implementing an integrated kinetic-clustering approach to constrain the chlorine reactivity of DOM in source waters.