The National Black Law Students Association is the largest law student organization in the country, with a combination of both pre-law and law school chapters. Founded in 1968, it is a nationwide organization formed to articulate and promote the needs and goals of Black law students and effectuate change in the legal community. NBLSA encourages the development of talented, socially conscious lawyers of tomorrow.
In 1968 Algernon Johnson Cooper, former mayor of Prichard, Alabama, founded the first Black American Law Student Association at New York University Law School. In 1983, BALSA revised its name omitting the word American so it would encompass all Black students — including those not of American nationality.
Later, the word national was added to reflect the organization's national expansion.
At the 40th anniversary convention of NBLSA organization Cooper said:
“We organized at NYU during the halcyon days of the late '60s, in the midst of riots, and our mission was contemplated, debated, discussed, agreed upon, refined and re-refined as only law students can do. But finally we decided that our mission was to articulate and promote professional needs and goals of African American law students ... to initiate a change within the legal system that would make it more responsive to the needs of the African American community.”
The association now has ties with the National Bar Association, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, the National Black Alliance and the National Black Leadership Roundtable.
However, the most important affiliation and duty this organization has is to the Black community — nationally and abroad.
The Pre-Law Black Law Student Association Chapter of IU was founded in 2015 by students pursuing a future in the legal area.
The current 2020-21 executive board includes: President Sha'Tearaney Suttle, Vice President Desiree Walker, Treasurer Tamar Trice, Secretary ZaMeishia Marsh and Social Media Coordinator Escarvar Tatum.
The primary purpose of Pre-BLSA is to articulate and promote the educational, professional, political and social needs and goals of Black pre-law students at IU. We achieve these goals by having networking events, panel discussions, documentary screenings and workshops.
Over the past five years, we have hosted a multitude of successful events including LSAT prep, law school admissions prep, professional development events, political debates and conversations about police and reform.