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

She was elected vice chair of NBLSA earlier this year. This is the first time in the organization’s history that a vice chair has become national chair, who serves like a CEO, to fill a vacancy mid-term. She will serve the remainder of the current term, through March 2020.

“As vice chair, my focus was on the internal operations of the organization,” Barnes said. “Now my focus will shift outward, and with the support of my NBLSA team, we will evaluate NBLSA’s external impacts and ensure our members are supported accordingly.”

She said one of her top goals is to strengthen the “value add” of NBLSA and engagement with members.

“We exist to serve our community, so I want to make sure we are doing so effectively,” she said.

Among the initiatives Barnes is taking over is an NBLSA effort to strengthen prelaw, alumni and current membership bases as well as build relationships with the National Bar Association, a nationwide network of predominantly African American attorneys and judges.

“Our goal is to provide resources for our members at every stage of their legal career,” she said.

Barnes has served 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. She has also been a Peer Advisor and Community Fellow. Barnes participated in 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.

The Atlanta native earned a bachelor’s in economics with a minor in Spanish from the University of Georgia.

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.”

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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