Florida State University College of Law’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) won two major advocacy competitions and a Chapter of the Year award at the Southern Region Black Law Students Association (SRBLSA) Regional Convention held Jan. 21-25 in Columbia, S.C.
Florida State’s BLSA won first place in the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition. In the 13-team competition, FSU’s team beat teams from Emory University, University of Alabama and University of North Carolina in head-to-head rounds.
Winning team members were third-year student Kevin Alford from Fort Lauderdale, first-year student Lauryn Collier from Charlotte, N.C., first-year student Matletha Fuller from South Bay, and second-year student Samuel Gilot from Miami. The team was coached by Florida State law alumna C. Erica White (’01), who is chief attorney at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Gilot also earned the competition’s overall best advocate title.
One of 19 teams competing, Florida State’s BLSA also won first place in the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition, an appellate advocacy competition. Other law schools participating included Emory University, University of Alabama and University of Florida. Judges for the competition’s final round included the chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Winning team members were third-year student Jason Byrd from Jacksonville and second-year student Christina Colbert from Daytona Beach. Judge Simone Marstiller, of Florida’s First District Court of Appeal, and Florida State law alumna Karla D. Ellis (’96), who is an attorney at the Florida Supreme Court, served as coaches for the team. Marstiller and Ellis also coached Florida State’s team that won the award for best brief in the competition and placed third overall. The students on that team were second-year student Derrick McBurrows from Monticello and third-year student Joseph Coleman from Naples. Coleman also earned the competition’s overall best oralist award.
Florida State’s BLSA also received the Chapter of the Year award for chapters of medium size. The award is based heavily on an organization’s community service and educational outreach activities. This is the fourth time in six years that Florida State has won the regional title.
“The continued success of BLSA on the regional and national stages is an important part of the fabric of our institution,” said Dean Donald J. Weidner. “We are all so proud of the student advocates, their dedicated coaches, and the BLSA organization as a whole.”
Florida State’s BLSA will compete for the related national awards in March at the National Black Law Students Association Annual Convention in Portland, Ore.