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Florida State’s Innovative Initiatives Earn Fifth SBA Award

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By Iris Gutiérrez Berríos

Iris Gutiérrez Berríos, a 3L at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, is the Law Student Division’s Seventh Circuit lieutenant governor of communications.

The ABA Law Student Division awarded its Student Bar Association (SBA) award for the fifth consecutive time to Florida State University College of Law at its Annual Meeting in Boston. This award highlights an active SBA’s efforts to promote efficiency in law school and a positive impact on the legal profession. The SBA at Florida State is well-deserving of this award and we learned what makes this student-led organization one of a kind.

What school wins an ABA Award for five consecutive years? According to the Florida State University College of Law Student Bar Association President, Jonathan Chinchilla, “I believe one of the most important components of our application for the award was explaining just how involved we are with not only the students, but with the broader Tallahassee community.” He said, “last year we had numerous events that allowed us to impact the lives of people outside of our student community.”

Florida State’s award arises from a very active 2013–14 calendar year, which included lecture series, a community service campaign, a middle school mentoring program, and an “impressive student giving rate.” The SBA was particularly involved in community service initiatives via various organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, in which students teamed up to build an environmental law firm, Hopping, Green & Sams, and the American Cancer Society to which the SBA donated over $2,500. The SBA at Florida State also leads a mentoring program through which they tutor middle school students.

“In addition to getting more involved with the local community, we do everything we can to ensure a vibrant student life,” Chinchilla said. He explained that activities go beyond the traditional 8–10 “bar reviews” that the SBA hosts. The SBA sponsors a law school carnival—cotton candy included—aimed at lowering students’ stress. It also hosts a Distinguished Speaker Series where it invites senators and other professionals to speak to the student body.

The SBA at Florida State is multifaceted. Apart from sponsoring events, it also facilitates communications and events between other student organizations in the law school. The newest tradition for the SBA at Florida State is to team up with the Phi Alpha Delta Chapter and the Cuban American Bar Association Chapter to hold a kick-off tailgate for the football season. “While this may seem mundane, these types of events help reduce student stress and encourages students to work together, creating a sense of togetherness and fraternity rather than competitiveness,” Chinchilla said. “We have an incredibly diverse student body, and by encouraging such togetherness and sharing of experiences, we set ourselves apart in our ability to be as accepting and unique as we are diverse.”

Vol. 43 No. 4

Student Lawyer Student Lawyer magazine provides guidance on educational, career, and related issues for ABA Law Student Division members and other subscribers. It is published four times a year by the Law Student Division of the American Bar Association. Student Lawyer is available online to members of the ABA Law Student Division and to print subscribers.