BLSA Wins Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Year

March 12, 2007

Black Law Students Association at UVA. The University of Virginia chapter of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) added one more award to their wall last month when they were named the Mid-Atlantic BLSA Chapter of the Year. The chapter won the award at the regional conference in Pittsburgh, where they competed against BLSA chapters from other law schools in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. This marks the fourth time the group has won this award in the past five years.

"To win an award of this magnitude just serves as a confirmation of the good job we have done," said chapter president Frankie Jones. "It lets us know we are headed in the right direction."

At annual regional and national conferences hosted by the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA), chapters submit scrapbooks documenting their activities and achievements over the past year, Jones explained. The Virginia Law chapter has been busy over the past year supporting its 93 members at the Law School by providing not only a social network, but also educational programs and career services. These events include hosting panels with law firms, resume-writing workshops for first-year law students in the chapter, panels on exam-writing hosted by alumni and professors, and a formal discussion with the local NAACP chapter. The chapter also hosted a meet-and-greet between professors and incoming black students this past fall, and currently maintains a library for its members' use.

"We do a lot for the [first-year law students]; we make sure they have the educational and social support they need," said chapter secretary Mika Clark.

The Law School's BLSA is also highly involved in community service, Jones said. Over the past year, the chapter has participated in projects such as building a home in Charlottesville through Habitat for Humanity and conducting a bake sale to raise money for the Darfur crisis. Clark added that the quality of the chapter's programs, as well as the quantity, played a role in winning the award

The chapter's mock trial team also won the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial competition at the Pittsburgh conference, with chapter education chair Ray McKenzie being named "best advocate" for the competition. Both Jones and Clark emphasized that all of the chapter's accomplishments result from a strong team effort.

"We all had the same goal in mind, and everyone works really well together," Clark said, stressing that no single person ran the organization, but that the chapter's activities were very much a collaborative effort.

The chapter will advance to the national competition in Atlanta, Georgia, this month, were they will compete against NBLSA chapters from all over the country for the title of National Chapter of the Year. The chapter has been named National Chapter of the Year twice since 2002, and both Jones and Clark say they are optimistic about their chances this year.

"We did a lot of quality programming this year, and we had a lot of support this year from students, faculty, and administrators," Jones said.

However, Clark pointed out that the awards are not the motivation behind all the chapter's events and services to the black students at the Law School.

"When we see a need, we try to meet it," she said.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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