Black Law Students Association

Mission: The Black Law Students Association (BLSA) of the University of California, Los Angeles is a component of a nationally incorporated organization. The recruitment and admission of Black students into the law school are two of the foremost concerns of BLSA. BLSA is interested in the admission of persons who demonstrate an active desire to contribute to the Black community.

Meet the Board

  • 2021-2022 BLSA Executive Board

    Amber DeanAmber Dean, Chair

    Amber Dean is a second-year law student at UCLA School of Law. She is from San Leandro, CA. She graduated from Vassar College with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a History Correlate in 2018. After graduation, she worked as a paralegal at a small legal reentry nonprofit in Oakland, CA. Its mission is to provide free legal services to Californians with criminal records. While there, she helped run expungement clinics in Northern, Central and Southern California. In 2020, Amber was awarded the Erika J. Glazer Endowed Scholarship for her work in Los Angeles’ Black Community.

    This past summer, she interned at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office in their General Litigation department. At the City, she drafted internal and external memos to help defend the City against civil lawsuits. Amber is currently a member of UCLA’s Mock Trial team and she is enrolled in UCLA’s Critical Race Studies Specialization.


    Alexandria EllisonAlexandria Ellison, Alumni Relations Chair

    Alexandria Ellison is a second-year law student at UCLA School of Law. She was born and raised in Boston, Ma. She graduated magna cum laude from Emerson College with a Bachelor of Science in Political Communication. While in undergrad, Alexandria was the Commencement Student Speaker. She also performed a Tedx Talk about the alarming rate that Black women are missing. Before beginning law school, Alexandria worked at Spyglass Media Group; and served as the Vice-Chair of Public Relations for Stonewall Democrats, the most prominent LGBTQ+ Democratic Organization in Southern California. She also worked at BuzzFeed Motion Pictures as a Video Production Fellow.

    In addition to serving as the Alumni Relations Chair, Alexandria also serves as the Diversity and Inclusion Chair for the UCLA Trial Team. This past summer, Alexandria worked as an intern for the UCLA Tribal Legal Development Clinic and as a judicial extern for Judge Magistrate Elizabeth Stafford. During the summer of 2022, she will be serving as a summer associate at Cox, Castle, and Nicholson.


    Adel KelifaAdel Kelifa, Treasurer

    Adel Kelifa is a second-year law student at UCLA School of Law. He was born and raised in Torrance, CA. He graduated from the University of San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Prior to law school, Adel interned with the Orange County Public Defender’s office and the International Rescue Committee’s El Cajon office.

    Aside from serving as Treasurer, Adel is also a member of the UCLA Law Review and enrolled in the Business Law & Policy specialization. He spent the past summer interning with the Worker Rights and Fair Labor Section of the California Department of Justice. Adel will be a Diversity Fellow and member of the Venable LLP summer associate class in their Los Angeles office this upcoming summer.


    Nicole PowellNicole Powell, Political Activism Chair

    Nicole Powell was born and raised in Los Angeles, by her parents and her grandmother. Nicole received her undergraduate degree in Communication Studies and Journalism at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in 2016. Nicole received her graduate degree in Theological Studies, with a focus on African-American Religious Studies, from Harvard University in 2018.

    Nicole is honored and humbled to be a student at the UCLA School of Law. She is thankful to her family and her community for investing and pouring into her. At UCLA Law, Nicole is a member of the UCLA Law Review, the National Black Law Journal, serves as the Political Activism Chair for the Black Law Students Association, and is enrolled in the Critical Race Studies Specialization. Nicole spent the summer of 2021 working full-time for a communications trade association that represents independent cable, phone, and internet companies which provide services to rural consumers. Nicole worked part-time as a research assistant for Vice Chancellor Spain Bradley, supporting her work towards the forthcoming book, Global Racism. During the summer of 2022, Nicole will serve as a summer associate at Crowell & Moring. She is grateful to the rest of the BLSA executive board for sharing communion with her, for the work that they create, and for the future worlds that they imagine.


    Taylor Roberts-SampsonTaylor Roberts-Sampson, Secretary

    Taylor Roberts-Sampson is a second-year law student at UCLA School of Law. She graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics and Anthropology. In addition to serving as Secretary, Taylor is a Co-Chair of the Queer and Trans People of Color Collective (QTPOCC) at UCLA Law. Taylor serves as Production Editor for The Dukeminier Awards Journal of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Co-Chair of the Let’s Go Liberation Clinic in partnership with the Los Angeles LGBT Center. She is a Writing Advisor for first-year law students. Taylor is an Arnold & Porter Diversity Scholar and a California Change Lawyer recipient. She spent her 1L summer as a summer associate at Covington & Burling and accepted an offer to return for her 2L summer in their New York and San Francisco offices. At UCLA, she specializes in Critical Race Theory and is interested in litigation and workplace investigations.


    Jasmine RobinsonJasmine Robinson, Academic Chair

    Jasmine Robinson is a second-year law student at UCLA School of Law. She is originally from Scottsdale, AZ. She graduated magna cum laude from The University of Utah in 2019 with her HBS in Peace and Conflict Studies (with an emphasis in Social Justice), her BS in Psychology, and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. In addition to serving as Academic Chair for BLSA, she serves as the Co-Chair of the Womyn of Color Collective, the Westlaw Student Representative, and a staff member for Volume 69 of the UCLA Law Review. She is also currently a Presidential Fellow for the National Bar Association.

    Jasmine has been involved in many other extracurricular activities at UCLA, including serving as the 1L President for the Student Bar Association, a Mentor for the Law Fellows program, a volunteer for El Centro Legal Clinics, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Humans of UCLA Law Newsletter, and a member of the Latinx Law Students Association, Law Women of UCLA, and National Lawyers Guild - UCLA. She also is part of the Critical Race Studies and David J. Epstein Public Interest Program in Law and Policy specializations. Before coming to law school, Jasmine spent one year working at The Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center in Phoenix, AZ as a Behavior Therapist for children under the age of five with a diagnosis of autism. Jasmine spent her 1L Summer working as a judicial extern for the Honorable Judge Fernando M. Olguin. Jasmine is interested in working in movement lawyering or legislative lawyering after law school.

    Janve SobersJanve Sobers, Co-Chair of the Activism Committee


    Lataysia StarksLataysia Starks, Recruitment and Social Chair

    Lataysia Starks is a second-year law student at UCLA School of Law. She graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a BSBA in Marketing and an MBA in Management. In addition to serving as Recruitment Chair, Lataysia is a staff member for Volume 69 of UCLA Law Review and the National Black Law Journal, as well as a Writing Skills Advisor. Immediately before law school, she worked as a Senior Procurement Consultant at a Fortune 500 company.

    At UCLA, she is involved in many associations, including the Entertainment Law Association and the Law and Entrepreneurship Association. She is also Co-Social Chair of UCLA Law’s Womxn of Color Collective. Lataysia is pursuing both the Entertainment Law Specialization, as well as the Business Law Specialization. This past summer, Lataysia worked at Apple as a Commercial Law Intern and at Mosley & Associates in their entertainment and labor and employment groups. This upcoming summer, she will be a Summer Associate at Sheppard Mullin’s Century City Office working in their Corporate and Securities practice group.


    Hope BentleyHope Bentley, 3L Representative

    Hope Bentley is a third-year student at UCLA School of Law from Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated from TCU with a bachelor's degree in Psychology, and minors in Criminal Justice and Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies. Her first summer, Hope was an extern for a Judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This past summer, she was a law clerk for the Federal Public Defender's Capital Habeas Unit in Los Angeles.

    Hope is the Symposium Editor for Volume 69 of the UCLA Law Review and is planning the 2022 Symposium. For the past two years, Hope has also been a Law Fellow Mentor and played on the Supreme Court Basketball team. She is a part of the Critical Race Studies Specialization and David J. Epstein Public Interest Law and Policy Program. In the future, she hopes to represent defendants in the criminal legal system and fight to dismantle systemic racism and mass incarceration.


    Milan SmithMilan Smith, 3L Representative

    Milan Smith is a third-year law student at UCLA School of Law, from Los Angeles, CA. She graduated from UCLA with honors with a B.A. in Political Science and from the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy with a Master of Public Administration with a public policy focus. Prior to law school, Milan worked at Loeb & Loeb LLP where she focused on professional development, marketing, and pro bono initiatives. In addition to serving as Co-Chair, Milan is the Sponsorship Coordinator for the UCLA Law Review. During her 1L summer, she worked as a legal intern at TikTok and a summer associate at Allen Matkins. This past summer she worked as a summer associate at Paul Hastings where she will be returning after graduation.

  • 2020-2021 BLSA Executive Board

    Justin Jackson, Co-Chair

    Justin is a second-year law student at UCLA School of Law from Marietta, GA. In 2019 he graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in English. In addition, he was a Captain of the Men's Basketball team and a member of the Dean's List. Prior to law school, Justin worked as an organizing intern for Chicago United for Equity and as a Public Service Intern for the City of Chicago.

    This past year, Justin was a member of the Dean's Advisory Committee, a Law Fellows Mentor, and a member of the Supreme Court Basketball team. He is a staff editor for Volume 68 of the UCLA Law Review and he intends to specialize in Critical Race Studies and Business Law. This past summer Justin was a summer associate at Milbank LLP.


    Milan Smith, Co-Chair

    Milan Smith is a second-year law student at UCLA School of Law, from Los Angeles, CA. She graduated from UCLA with honors with a B.A. in Political Science and from the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy with a Master of Public Administration with a public policy focus. Prior to law school, Milan worked at Loeb & Loeb LLP where she focused on professional development, marketing, and pro bono initiatives.

    In addition to serving as Co-Chair, Milan is a staff editor for the UCLA Law Review and the National Black Law Journal. This past summer, she worked as a legal intern at TikTok and a summer associate at Allen Matkins.


    Hope Bentley, Academic Chair

    Hope Bentley is a second-year student at UCLA School of Law from Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated from TCU with a bachelor's degree in Psychology, and minors in Criminal Justice and Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies. During college, she interned with Polsinelli Law Firm's pro-bono department, representing parents and children in Family Drug Court in Kansas City. This past summer, she was an extern at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Hope is a staff editor for Volume 68 of the UCLA Law Review and the National Black Law Journal. She will also participate in the CRS Race, Work and Economic Justice Clinic that works with the Los Angeles Black Workers Center. Hope is a Law Fellow Mentor and played on the Supreme Court Basketball team. She is a part of the Critical Race Studies Specialization and David J. Epstein Public Interest Law and Policy Program. In the future, she hopes to represent defendants in the criminal justice system and fight to dismantle systemic racism and mass incarceration.


    Moriah Denton, External Relations Chair

    Moriah Denton is a second-year law student at the UCLA School of Law. Moriah graduated summa cum laude from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic, Legal, and Management Communications. Prior to law school, Moriah worked as a legal assistant at a personal injury law firm in Silver Spring, MD. Moriah has interned for the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General and DC Volunteer Lawyers Project. In addition to being UCLA BLSA's External Relations Chair, Moriah is a staff editor for Volume 68 of the UCLA Law Review and a Law Fellow mentor. She has also participated in the UCLA El Centro Re-Entry Legal Clinic. This past summer, Moriah interned with the California Office of the Attorney General.


    Maya Hairston, 3L Representative

    Maya Hairston is a third-year student and David J. Epstein Public Interest Law and Policy Scholar at the UCLA School of Law. Maya graduated summa cum laude from George Mason University's Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Prior to law school, Maya interned for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and did public policy work for the Constitution Project.

    In addition to being UCLA BLSA's former treasurer, Maya is the Sponsorship Coordinator for Volume 68 of the UCLA Law Review, sits on the Critical Race Studies Student Committee, and plays for the Supreme Court Basketball team. She is a Law Fellow mentor and participated in the CRS Race, Work, and Economic Justice Clinic at the Los Angeles Black Workers Center last year. Maya is also the co-founder of Black & Ivy, a non-profit whose mission is to educate, support, and inspire Black high school students to pursue an advanced degree through scholarship, social media, public panels, and discussions. She is interested in tax law and specializes in Critical Race Theory. This summer, Maya returned to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Washington, DC for her second summer. She accepted an offer to join their tax practice following graduation.


    Lydia Heye, Secretary

    Lydia Heye is a second-year law student at UCLA School of Law. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Portland with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Prior to law school, Lydia interned for U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon with the constituent service team and on advising the office on how to better serve their BIPOC constituents.

    Lydia is interested in environmental justice and is pursuing a specialization in both Critical Race Studies and Environmental Law. This past year she served as the student representative on the UCLA Law Curriculum Committee and volunteered with El Centro's Public Counsel CARES clinic. This summer Lydia worked as a fellow with the Promise Institute for Human Rights on their International Criminal Law and the Protection of the Environment Project and will be a 2L Summer Associate at Stoel Rives in Portland next year.  In addition to serving as the Secretary of BLSA, she is a staff member of the National Black Law Journal.


    Keith Lawton, Recruiting Chair

    Keith Lawton is a second-year law student. He graduated from the University of Toronto. Prior to law school, he was a line cook in Canada, taught English in Takayama, Japan, worked in finance recruitment in Tokyo, and worked in sales and event planning in the coin-op gaming industry in the Bay Area. Along with serving as BLSA's Recruitment Chair, Keith is a UCLA Law Fellows mentor and will be working with the Race, Work, and Economic Justice Clinic at the Los Angeles Black Workers Center. This past summer he worked as a summer associate at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton working in their Trademark and Copyright practice group.


    Bradan Litzinger, Treasurer

    Bradan Litzinger is a second-year law student specializing in Critical Race Studies and enrolled in the David J. Epstein Public Interest Law and Policy Program at the UCLA School of Law. Bradan graduated from the University of Chicago with honors in Public Policy and Psychology. Prior to law school, he worked as Legislative Director for a City Councilmember in Berkeley and Director of Operations for a San Francisco education startup. In addition to being UCLA BLSA Treasurer, Bradan is also a staff member on the National Black Law Journal and Volume 68 of the UCLA Law Review. During 1L, he worked as a student researcher with the Criminal Justice Program during fall semester, and as a volunteer coordinator in the spring with the Labor and Economic Justice Clinic, assisting Unite Here Local 11 union members complete unemployment applications during the COVID-19 pandemic. This summer, Bradan worked as a judicial intern with the Administrative Law Judge Division of the CPUC and hopes to practice plaintiff-side litigation in employment, civil rights, and mass torts.


    Emani Oakley, Social Media Chair

    Emani Oakley is a 2L at the UCLA School of Law in the Critical Race Studies program. Before law school, she lobbied on higher education policies on behalf of students and served as a board member of Legal Education Association for Diversity, an organization focused on providing students of color free access to resources to attend law school. She graduated with honors from UC Santa Barbara where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Communication. In addition to her role in BLSA, she currently serves as a staff member of UCLA Law Review Volume 68, Managing Editor of the UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs, a Writing Advisor, and is a UCLA Law Fellow Mentor.  During her 1L summer, she worked with Public Counsel as an Equal Justice America Fellow. Emani has an interest in civil rights law, human rights law, and civil litigation.


    Latrel Powell, Political Activism Chair

    Latrel Powell is a second-year law student at UCLA School of Law. Latrel graduated summa cum laude from San Diego State University as the Most Outstanding Graduate of the College of Arts and Letters with a Bachelor of Arts in both Political Science and Africana Studies, as well as a minor in Interdisciplinary Studies. Latrel served as the statewide policy advocate for students in higher education across the state of California, worked in numerous capacities as a community volunteer and leader for underrepresented youth, and conducted independent ethnographic research on race relations and space identity in post-apartheid Cape Town, South Africa - all of which have reinforced his passion for public service and community-centric program development.

    Latrel is a David J. Epstein Public Interest Law and Policy Scholar. He is interested in community lawyering, metropolitan inequality, and youth justice. Latrel spent this past summer as a law clerk for Public Advocates on their Metropolitan Equity Team primarily working on tenant's rights and organizational development in response to the George Floyd uprisings, and is excited to be serving as the BLSA Political Activism Chair this upcoming year!


    Janay Williams, Alumni Relations Chair

    Janay Williams is a second-year law student at the UCLA School of Law. Janay graduated with multiple honors from UCLA with a B.S. in Biology. Prior to law school, she spent two years working as a public high school biology and chemistry teacher in Southern California, which motivated her to pursue a legal career focusing on intellectual property. In addition to serving as the Alumni Relations Chair, she is also a staff editor of the UCLA Law Review and the National Black Law Journal, and a Writing Skills Advisor. She is currently a graduate student representative for the ASUCLA Board of Director, a non-profit board which runs all UCLA enterprises, and UCLA licensing. Janay is a Keker, Van Nest & Peters Diversity Scholar, UCLA Graduate Student Opportunity Fellow,  and Class of 2018 Scholarship Recipient.

Events

BLSA hosts an array of events throughout the year that provide academic resources, networking opportunities, career insights, and tools to be a voice on campus. Here are just some of the events we have had so far.

  • BLSA 2020-2021 Events


    UCLA BLSA & Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy Present: A Discussion with Black Trial Lawyers (Sept. 4, 2020)

    Watch the video.

    A discussion with Bart H. Williams, Commercial Litigator at Proskauer, Mercedes A. Cook, Los Angeles County Deputy Public Defender, and Olu K. Orange, Civil Rights Litigator at Orange Law Offices, about their experiences as Black Trial Lawyers.

Donate

  • BLSA Scholarship Fund

    UCLA BLSA has endowed a scholarship for an incoming UCLA School of Law student with financial need, who has demonstrated a commitment to racial justice and continuing those pursuits beyond law school. This student will likely serve a leadership role with BLSA during their time at UCLA Law. Awards from this fund will be made by the UCLA Law Office of Admissions and Financial Aid in consultation with the student leaders of BLSA.

    UCLA BLSA Scholarship Fund

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