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BLSA Celebrates Year of Accomplishments, Recognition

The University of Baltimore School of Law’s chapter of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) has much to celebrate about the 2012-13 academic year.

Several members of the chapter, which numbers 79, celebrated achievements: a member’s article was just published in a law journal; two other members earned scholarships from Maryland’s most prominent affinity bar associations; two will serve in the National Black Law Students Association national and regional executive boards; and eight took part in interscholastic competitions.

Caroline Mapp, J.D. ’14, is the senior editor of the Southern Region Black Law Students Association Law Journal. Her paper “Protecting the Voting Rights Act Preclearance Provision Against Constitutional Challenges” was published in the journal this spring. Julius Maina, J.D. ’16, was awarded the 2012 J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association Scholarship, and Tiffany Fountaine, J.D. ’14, was awarded the 2012 Juanita E. Jackson-Mitchell Scholarship from the Monumental City Bar Foundation.

Fountaine was also named to the 2013-14 National Black Law Students Association executive board as national vice chair. Currently, she serves as the UB Chapter vice president and MD/DC sub-regional director. Her new duties will include managing the internal operations of NBLSA and its more than 200 law school chapters.

Fountaine has high expectations for her term with the national organization.

“The history of NBLSA is one filled with activism, service and leadership, academic and professional development,” she said. “This prestigious role allows me an opportunity to serve as a change agent for minority communities, law students and NBLSA as a whole. That opportunity alone means the world to me. I cherish it and look forward to working alongside a brilliant team of social engineers of change.”

The UB chapter of BLSA will have another representative holding office on a regional scale, when Cameron Williams, J.D. ’14, takes office as the 2013-14 regional vice chair of the Mid-Atlantic Black Law Students Association (MABLSA). Currently, Williams serves as the regional attorney general. His new duties will include managing the internal operations of MABLSA.

Eight BLSA members participated in interscholastic competitions in the 2012-13 school year. Mapp and Jennifer Burroughs, J.D. ’14, competed on the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Team; Temitope Ojo, J.D. ’14, and Julianne Kelly, J.D. ’15, participated in the International Negotiations Competition; and Janice Footman, J.D. ’14, Breon Johnson, J.D. ’13, Lakoya Leneir, J.D. ’14, and Douglas Nivens II, J.D. ’14, made up the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Team.

Along with individual successes, the UB chapter celebrated regional recognition when it was named the MABLSA 2012-2013 Most Improved Chapter. The group was also honored with the MABLSA 2012-2013 Best Implementation of a Regional Initiative for Operation HOPE, which involved gathering 18 volunteers from the university to expand financial literacy for more than 200 elementary and middle school students in Baltimore City. Most recently, the UB Student Bar Association named BLSA the 2012-13 Outstanding Student Organization.

The organization held its 34th Annual Awards Banquet on April 20, at which the members below were honored:

BLSA Image Award - Ebony Thompson, J.D. ’13
BLSA Outstanding Scholar - Ebony Thompson, J.D. ’13
Peer Leadership Award - Caroline Mapp, J.D. ’14
Community Service Award - Tenae L. Smith, J.D. ’15
BLSA Trailblazer Award - Marvin James, the group’s only undergraduate member, expected to graduate from UB’s Government and Public Policy program in 2014.

Nivens, who was recognized at the banquet for his leadership as president during the 2012-13 academic year, notes that the event was the culmination of a year of landmark achievements for the organization.

“Our banquet was a fitting end to a great year,” he said. “We were inspired by our guest speaker, Judge Andre Davis; celebrated the extraordinary careers of former UB School of Law Dean Gilbert Holmes and Chief Judge Robert M. Bell; and honored our hard-working members for their achievement.” 

Continued Nivens: “We brought about a cohesive BLSA family – one that will continue nurturing success and fellowship in our law school and legal community.”

The Black Law Students Association is a national organization created and designed to articulate and promote the needs and goals of black law students. The chapter has developed a peer-mentoring program in which upper-class law students are assigned to incoming first-year students to help them adapt to law school.

Photo credit: J.Flixx photographers Sara Malvin and Ricky Moyd.