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The National Black Law Students Association (“NBLSA”) took over downtown Baltimore from March 8-13, 2016, for its forty-eighth National Convention, and FIU Law students Chanelle Artiles, Reginald Guillaume, Jeremy McLymont, and Keonica Montgomery were there to help make the event a resounding success.

Recent FIU Law alumna Scheril Murray Powell was also there; she has served on the NBLSA National Board for two consecutive terms, most recently as the National Competition Coordinator. With the assistance of her National Competition Specialist, 1L Jeremy McClymont, she was responsible for overseeing the on-site logistics of the National Mock Trial, Moot Court, and Negotiations Competitions.

“The NBLSA conference was the highlight of my first year in law school,” said Jeremy McLymont. “Every black law student should consider the opportunities NBLSA has to offer.  The supportive community and the networking opportunities led me to a paid summer internship with the D.C. Public Defender’s Office. I also gained priceless experience while representing FIU in numerous plenary sessions during the conference. I will be attending NBLSA conferences for the remainder of my law school years,” he added.  Jeremy also served as the FIU College of Law delegate, and won one of NBLSA’s most competitive scholarships: the Eric Gardner Police Brutality Memorial Scholarship.  Jeremy’s winning essay discussed how he would advise the New York Police Department on how to eliminate police brutality.

Fourth-year student Jeremy Thompson is NBLSA’s National Director of Career and Educational Development, and second-year students Guillaume and Artiles also serve on the team.  They organized the national career fair at the National Convention. “After spending the academic year working side by side with Chanelle Artiles under the leadership of Jeremy Thompson, it is with a sense of pride and accomplishment that I left the NBLSA conference,” said Guillaume. “During the NBLSA Conference, we shouldered the responsibility of organizing a national career fair that will create opportunities for students to earn internships and employment opportunities. Although undertaking the task with our team was tough, it was a success. As a result of our hard work on the executive board of the National Black Law Student Association we were able to demonstrate the work ethics that FIU Law instilled in us. I absolutely enjoyed the conference and the hard work that we put in.”

In addition to all of their work on NBLSA committees, FIU Law students were able to enjoy some of the once-in-a-lifetime events at the Convention.  “Listening to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Congressman Elijah Cummings, and the Baltimore City State Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, address NBLSA at our Black Tie Gala was a life changing experience,” added Thompson. “Serving as a National Director of an organization that President Barack Obama, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and the current Attorney General Loretta Lynch were a part of has been a humbling experience.  Although the most challenging experience that I have faced as a law student, it was well worth it.   It was well worth helping my fellow NBLSA members become “Practice-Ready”.  It was well worth helping my future colleagues find their dream jobs.  It was well worth exposing my fellow NBLSA members and employers from across the United States to the quality of students that FIU College of Law produces.”

First-time Convention attendee and FIU Law first-year Keonica Montgomery assisted NBLSA’s Pre-law Director, Rod Hickman, with the Pre-law Day at the National Convention.   She shared her experience as a law student and helped facilitate the entire day, which consisted of providing LSAT tips and one-on-one mentoring to college students interested in law school.  This role was perfect for Keonica, who is also a full-time educator.

Scheril summed up her experience with NBLSA this way: “NBLSA is a historic organization that has always stood on the right side of history and social justice issues.  FIU BLSA is also near to my heart and I am so proud of the work that the local chapter is doing.  When law students choose a life of service and have to juggle academics, family, and organizations, it comes at a cost.  However, the reward of knowing that you are doing good work makes the sacrifices worthwhile.”  One way to support these servant leaders, she suggests, is to contribute to the BLSA Charlotte E. Ray Scholarship on the FIU Law Alumni Association webpage.

Overall, FIU Law was well represented, and this Convention continues the rich tradition of FIU Law students’ support of NBLSA and its mission to help law students and communities across the country.