Student Rachel Barnes Elected National Black Law Students Association Vice Chair

Rachel Barnes

Rachel Barnes ’21 previously served as president of the Law School’s Black Law Students Association chapter. Photo by Julia Davis

March 29, 2019

Rachel Barnes ’21, a J.D.-MBA candidate at the University of Virginia School of Law, has been elected vice chair of the National Black Law Students Association.

Barnes serves as NBLSA regional mock trial director and president of the BLSA chapter at UVA Law, which was named national chapter of the year in 2018.

“While the chair sets the vision for NBLSA and what it should look like this year, I will make sure it happens,” she said about her new position. “I will help programmatic chairs have the support that they need to get projects done and fill in any gaps as necessary.”

Among its many social and service activities, UVA Law’s BLSA chapter organizes an annual service trip abroad and debuted the BLSA Alumni Spotlight Award in 2018.

She said her experience in previous BLSA roles has taught her that transparency is key to building trust to garner support and achieve common goals. Her biggest accomplishments, she said, have been boosting engagement among all Law School classes and making sure students feel they can take away something from their experiences with the group.

“Making sure that I was inclusive with the other chapters that were involved and making sure everybody’s voice was heard was a big priority of mine, so next year I want to do that on a larger scale,” she said.

Barnes was also a Cowan Fellow for this year’s Human Rights Study Project trip to Nepal and was the Student Bar Association’s Diversity Committee co-chair and American Bar Association representative.

Former UVA BLSA Community Service Chair Marwa Abdelaziz ’19 and former President Jianne McDonald ’19 are serving as NBLSA national vice chair and national co-director of corporate engagement for 2018-19, respectively.

Founded as the Black American Law Students Association at New York University in 1968, NBLSA’s mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible black and minority attorneys who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.

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