By Phylicia Coleman, 3L, BLSA President
On Saturday, November 8, 2014, fourteen members of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Black Law Students Association (BLSA) attended the 38th Annual Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association (EBGBA) Scholarship Dinner at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter Hotel. BLSA President, Phylicia Coleman 3L, aimed to get as many Thomas Jefferson BLSA members to the dinner as possible, especially 1Ls. David Offutt, Jr. 1L was honored to attend the dinner. “The dinner provided a great forum to meet practicing attorneys and judges in the San Diego area. It also exposed me to a scholarship opportunity that I was previously unaware of, which is great because I look forward to applying for the Earl B. Gilliam scholarship next year. It was a great experience and I look forward to attending next year.”
This year’s theme for the dinner was, “For Our Community”, which is a reminder that the organization exists first and foremost to serve the members of the San Diego community. The dinner recognizes the scholastic achievements of law students in the San Diego area. This year, two BLSA members received a scholarship: Taelor Cole 2L and Shanly Hopkins 3L. “I was delighted and honored to find out I was chosen to be an EBGBA scholarship recipient. The organization not only provides great networking opportunities but also prides itself on reaching back into the community and helping others,” said Taelor Cole when asked how it felt to be an award recipient. Shanly Hopkins echoed Taelor's sentiments with, “I am very proud that the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association honored me with the SONY scholarship award this year. Paulette Brown was a phenomenal speaker, and the event proved to be a great networking opportunity for myself and other Thomas Jefferson students.”
BLSA members served as volunteers to help escort guests and check them in during registration. This gave BLSA members the opportunity to speak with and become familiar with some of San Diego’s most prestigious judges and attorneys. Conversations regarding future plans were sparked among the members and attorneys during check in. “The Earl B. Gilliam Dinner was a great opportunity to see the strength of the African American legal community in San Diego. I had a lot of fun interacting with different legal professionals,” said 1L, Alexandria Jones.
This year’s keynote speaker was Paulette Brown, a Partner and Chief Diversity Officer of Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP. She will serve a one-year term as president-elect before becoming American Bar Association president in August 2015, reaching new heights as the first woman of color to hold this position. As Ms. Brown spoke to those present, she encouraged each individual to become and remain active within the community. Ms. Brown said, “It is important for us to mentor those who come after us in order to help guide them.” BLSA’s 1L Representative, Constance Perry, stated, “The Earl B. Gilliam Dinner was a great experience. It was a great opportunity to be motivated and inspired by Ms. Brown, all of the attorneys and judges, and the scholarship recipients. I cannot wait for next year!”