The Midwest Region of the National Black Law Students Association hosted its annual Regional Convention February 15-19, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law was the convention title sponsor.
This year's convention theme was Getting to Esquire & Beyond: Overcoming Obstacles, Opening Doors, and Securing Opportunities. Students were tasked with using the convention as an opportunity to learn, explore, network, and serve.
Over 250 law students, coaches, and sponsors joined us for community service, workshops, competitions, and networking receptions. This year's convention was a success and a culmination of what will undoubtedly be enduring memories for participants and sponsors alike.
Wednesday, February 15
The event kicked off on Wednesday, February 15th with the first-ever Competitors' Reception sponsored by Roetzel & Andress LPA. Our competitors were given words of encouragement from Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, of the Ohio Supreme Court; Justice Yvette McGee Brown, of the Ohio Supreme Court; Judge Laurel Beatty, of the Franklin County Municipal Court; and United States Attorney Carter Stewart.
Thursday, February 16
On Thursday, February 16th members were given the opportunity to serve Columbus through our Community Service Project, sponsored by Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, at Independence High School. While there, our members helped the local Anti-Violence Task Force develop an Anti-Bullying Program to be used at the school.
Back at the hotel, members participated in Public Interest Law and Speed Networking workshops. Over ten law schools from the Midwest region participated in our Pre-Law Division Diversity Law Fair, which was sponsored by Capital University Law School.
The day ended with the Welcome to Columbus Reception, sponsored by Squire Sanders. The Reception was held at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI). Attendees had the opportunity to explore an exhibit entitled RACE: Are We So Different? The exhibit explained the true differences among people and revealed the reality-and unreality-of race.
After exploring the RACE exhibit, members reconvened to eat, drink, and network with Associates and Partners from Squire Sanders and local dignitaries. The reception decor, which overlooked the Columbus skyline, provided the perfect backdrop for the keynote address. The keynote address given by Alex Shumate, the Managing Partner of Squire Sander North America focused was on "Getting to Squire & Beyond."
Friday, February 17
Many of our sponsors joined us for our Career Fair on Friday, February 17th. Students were given the opportunity to participate in "table-top" interviews with Managing Partners, Diversity and Recruitment Chairs from firms from all over the Midwest region.
Around mid-day, career fair patrons and participants were invited to the Getting to Esquire Luncheon. State Senator Nina Turner delivered the keynote address. Senator Turner proclaimed that "Our Hair Should Be On Fire," a euphemistic characterization of our proposed posture as social engineers in light of the current economic and political terrain. The profundity of her message was not lost in her exuberance; rather, it added color as she chronicled her personal experiences and triumphs over adversity.
In the afternoon, participants found themselves deciding which workshop best explored their interests: Which Practice Makes Perfect, Playing for the Team, and Pursuing the Road Less Traveled. For other participants, the career fair and the ViewYou video profile sessions provided them with opportunity for direct professional and career development.
In the evening, attendees joined MWBLSA alumni at the Ohio State University sponsored Alumni Reception, which was held at the exclusive Barrister Club. Students, alumni, and representatives from the Columbus Bar Association, John Mercer Langston Bar Association, and Norman S. Minor Bar Association enjoyed a night filled with music, food, and networking. In addition, MWBLSA recognized Dean Robert Solomon III, The Ohio State University, with an award for his commitment to ensuring the success of the 2012 Midwest Regional Convention.
Saturday, February 18
On Saturday participants were provided with "town hall" style call-to-action lecture series and a plethora of panel discussions from which to choose. The panel discussions included: Non-Traditional Legal Careers; Preparing for Partnership and Advancement; Brothers-In-Law; High Heels, High Standards. Many participants remarked at how pleased they were with the men and women's empowerment panel discussions - Brothers-In-Law and High Heels, High Standards respectively.
These panel discussions were dispersed strategically throughout the day to ensure that all participants could attend the town hall lecture. The lecture was entitled There's No Justice; There's "Just Us" and was split into two parts. Part I was presented by Professor David Singleton, a renowned scholar on issues of justice, ethics and equality. Professor Singleton addressed the unique responsibility of young lawyers to advocate for social justice. Part II was presented by Professor Vincene Verdun, a renowned critical race theorist. Part II focused on the intersection of race and law today, and challenged attendees to celebrate the progress while renewing the fight for fairness and equality in the legal system.
In addition, U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart delivered the keynote address at our luncheon, The Advocate In You. His address focused on ways to remain competitive in the ever-changing legal market. Specifically, Attorney Stewart addressed the need to be forward-looking, open-minded, and malleable in order to enjoy longevity in the law. In an encouraging tone he warned of the challenges of a more global marketplace.
Last, but certainly not least, the convention ended with the Awards Gala. The Honorable Algenon L. Marbley shared his experiences and wisdom during his keynote address on the challenges of being a successful attorney in the current global market.
Outgoing Midwest Regional Chair, Rodney Robbins, thanked the membership for allowing him the opportunity to serve this year and for joining the Executive Board in the celebration of the success of the Midwest Region. The Midwest Executive Board elections results, winners of the 2012 Midwest Regional Frederick Douglass Moot Court and Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competitions were all announced.
2012-2013 Election Results
The elected members of the 2012-2013 Midwest Regional Board were announced:
2012 Midwest Regional Frederick Douglass Moot Court
The 2012 Midwest Regional Frederick Douglass Moot Court Champion results are as follows:
Champion: Saint Louis University School of Law (Jerina Phillips and Stephanie Hudson)
2012 Midwest Regional Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial
The 2012 Midwest Regional Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial results are as follows:
Champion: University of Notre Dame School of Law
2012 Midwest Region Chapter of the Year
The 2012 Midwest Region Chapter of the Year is the Indiana University, Maurer School of Law.
Sunday, February 19
On Sunday morning, while most participants departed, the exiting board and board elect attended a transitional breakfast. There the exiting board shared "words of wisdom" and tips for success with the newly elected board. The exiting officers expressed an unparalleled confidence in the Executive Board elects ability to build upon the mission of MWBLSA and NBLSA: balancing diversity within the legal community and working to ensure that the doors to advocacy remain open to all.
The Midwest Regional Executive Board would like to thank our keynote speakers Honorable Algenon L. Marbley, U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart, and State Senator Nina Turner, all of our sponsors, and the panelists and presenters who contributed to the success of this year's Regional Convention.
We have truly enjoyed the opportunity to serve our constituents and look forward to the 2012 Academic Retreats and the 2013 Regional Convention in Saint Louis, Missouri!