UVA Law Students Selected for Leadership Positions in National Black Law Students Association

Renee Manson, Charis Redmond and Josephine Biemkpa

As part of the national executive board, Renee Manson '16, Charis Redmond '17, Josephine Biemkpa '16 and Danielle Stokes '16 (not pictured) will support one of the nation’s largest student-run organizations, which represents thousands of minority law students.

September 21, 2015

Four University of Virginia School of Law students will serve in leadership positions for the National Black Law Students Association during the 2015-16 term.

Through serving on the national board, Josephine Biemkpa '16, Charis Redmond '17, Renee Manson '16 and Danielle Stokes '16 will support operations for one of the nation's largest student-run organizations, which represents thousands of minority law students and aims to "increase the number of culturally responsible black and minority attorneys who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community," according to NBLSA's mission statement.

"It's incredibly exciting to see our student leaders tapped for these national roles because they now will have the opportunity to shape a number of important dialogues that are taking place around the country," said UVA law professor Anne Coughlin , who is a member of the Law School's BLSA chapter advisory council, along with Senior Director of Law Firm Recruiting Patrice Hayden and Professor A. Benjamin Spencer. "But the development comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked closely with BLSA over the years. Our BLSA leaders are among the best of the best, and the national organization is fortunate to have them on board."

Biemkpa, the association's national director of membership, will chair NBLSA's membership committee and work with regional liaisons to assist current chapters and members, while also creating new chapters, reactivating inactive chapters and compiling membership statistics and data. There are currently more than 200 chapters nationwide on the law and pre-law levels.

"I am really excited to be working with a diverse group of like-minded individuals around the country and abroad on the pre-law, law school and alumni levels," Biemkpa said. Biemkpa is a Howard University alumna.

The National Director of NBLSA's Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition is Manson. Manson will oversee the national moot court competition, which includes six regional competitions and the final held each year during the national convention. She will determine the problem, set the rules and seek accreditation for the competitions. Manson holds degrees from the University of California, Riverside, and the University of Pennsylvania. ( Moot court competitions at UVA Law)

Redmond, a graduate of the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is NBLSA's programming specialist and the current president of UVA Law's BLSA chapter. Redmond is responsible for developing and evaluating the effectiveness of existing NBLSA programs. As part of her role, she will help plan activities for the 48th Annual NBLSA Convention, slated for March 9-13, 2016, in Baltimore. In the past, the convention has featured events centered on topics like mentoring, social media and ethics.

Danielle Stokes
Danielle Stokes

Stokes, a graduate of the University of Richmond, will assist in organizing the NBLSA moot court competition as the national moot court specialist. Working with the moot court director and the regional directors, she will solicit sponsors and program participants.

The women said their roles at NBLSA draw from the strengths of the Law School's BLSA chapter.

Redmond pointed to community, academic achievement, career development and community service as constant touchstones for BLSA, which has been active since 1970.

"Our chapter is a safe space for everyone who identifies with our mission, regardless of color," she said. "We try to create a supportive, family-like atmosphere that embraces diversity and leads others to do the same."

The Virginia Law chapter sponsors an annual international service trip , during which students provide pro bono services in partnership with legal aid organizations abroad. They also host a biannual diversity reception to help kick-start the career-search season for first-year law students. The event gives BLSA members and students from other organizations at UVA Law the opportunity to network with attendees from partner firms.

"BLSA is one of the most vibrant and vital student organizations on our law grounds. Their academic and professional programs always are first rate, and they consistently enrich our community by coming up with innovative ways of supporting everyone who studies and works here," said Coughlin.

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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