UF Law students get involved in NBLSA convention and competition
University of Florida Levin College of Law students traveled to the nation’s capital for the National Black Law Students Association annual convention.
The 44th convention, which took place March 7 through March 11, gave law students the opportunity to network, attend workshops, conduct community service, and compete in one of the three competitions.
Four University of Florida Levin College of Law students turned out for the 6th annual international negotiation competition.
Vivian Seymour (3L), Mikalla Davis (3L), Keisha Edwards (2L), and Gisselle Martinez (2L) paired up in two rounds of negotiations. This year’s competition challenged students to negotiate a solution to the Greek economic crisis.
“The average score for our negotiations was 96 out of 100. I think our high score speaks to the caliber of the competitors and the professionalism that all the teams in the competition put forth,” Seymour said.
Although Seymour did not advance in the competition, she found the experience of advocating for a client educational since she applied skills she learned from semesters of negotiation classes and clinics to the competition. She also picked up new negotiating tactics along the way.
“It was an exhilarating experience to negotiate,” she said.
Also present at the convention was UF Law student Anitra Raiford (3L), the national director of membership for NBLSA.
Raiford has been involved with NBLSA for two years, where she previously served as the southern region parliamentarian. Raiford’s duties as director of membership include overseeing national enrollment, coordinating partnerships with businesses to provide benefits for NBLSA members, and organizing membership receptions, amongst other activities.
For the convention, Raiford organized a panel called “Sister to Sister,” which brought female attorneys and students together for a discussion about legal practice. She said the panel was so popular that some attendees had to stand.
Raiford also helped coordinate the annual A. Leon Higginbotham luncheon and implement the pre-law division panels.
“It was a huge success. We had the most attendees ever,” Raiford said of the convention.
Lisa Thelwell (3L), the national director of communications for NBLSA, is responsible for developing the communications strategy for the organization and overseeing all membership publications, such as the organization’s official magazine and the national website.
After serving as the recording secretary of the southern region of NBLSA last year, Thelwell began to appreciate the role NBLSA plays in assisting black law students, especially those without family members in the legal profession.
“Becoming active in NBLSA is by far one of the most memorable experiences of my law school career,” Thelwell said. “The organization has helped me to grow professionally in ways that I could not imagine.”
Before and during the convention, Thelwell and a team were responsible for marketing and promotion, including updates to the website, and informing the membership and the general public about the convention. She also served as a chair for two panels during the convention.
For her tireless efforts in promoting NBLSA, Thelwell received the NBLSA Board Member of the Year award, which recognizes a board member who has demonstrated outstanding service to NBLSA.
Also in attendance was Miaya McCray (2L), chapter president of the W. George Allen Black Law Student Association (BLSA). McCray is also a member of the southern region of NBLSA and acts as regional director of community service.
“The ability to learn and network with other members of NBLSA, black attorneys and supporters of the organization, be they black or of another race, was incredible,” McCray said about the first NBLSA convention she had the chance to attend.
Although this year’s competition is over, McCray and Raiford encourage law students to attend future NBLSA conventions for its discussion of diversity, networking benefits and educational opportunities.
“I think that conventions are a way of discussing and addressing the state of the black law student as well as the black legal professional. Attending conventions offers perspectives from diverse religious, regional, and cultural aspects,” said McCray.
Raiford agreed, saying, “I would highly recommend that all law students, and not just NBLSA members, attend the National Convention because it has so much to offer. There are so many opportunities made accessible to law students that are not generally available.”