SWLAW Blog | Awards & Honors

Western Regional Black Law Students Association Convention Yanick Saila-Ngita was named Advocate of the Year. Venessa Simpson and Jasmine Ortega took Second Place in the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition.

January 10, 2017

Southwestern Shines at Western Regional BLSA Convention

Last weekend, at the Western Regional Black Law Students Association Convention held at Seattle University School of Law, Southwestern excelled. Yanick Saila-Ngita, co-president of Southwestern’s BLSA chapter, was awarded Advocate of the Year for his commitment to and work for social justice.  Another aspect of the Convention included the Western Regional Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition in which Southwestern’s team of Venessa Simpson and Jasmine Ortega finished in Second Place. The team will advance to the national competition in Houston, Texas in March.

Saila-Ngita currently serves as the Chapter Advocate for Southwestern’s BLSA. This year, he led an on-campus demonstration in remembrance of lives lost in police-involved shootings, helped organize on-campus voter registration, and helped put together a student voter guide. The Attorney General for the Western Region Black Law Students Association (WRBLSA) nominates the recipients for Advocate of the Year award.

“I was truly honored to receive this award because it came from my peers in the region in recognition of the work I have done this year,” Saila-Ngita said. “I have a long history of engaging around social issues important to the black community, and this award speaks to those efforts.”

Five teams participated in the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition. Southwestern’s team of Ortega and Simpson defeated two teams from Humphreys College School of Law and UCLA to earn Second Place. (Trinity Law School won.) The advocates argued whether a fictional state’s capital sentencing scheme violated the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial and procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

“Although neither of us had any experience with Moot Court before this, we were very well prepared by Yanick, Professor Tara Walters, and Professor Kemba Taylor,” Simpson said. “This allowed us to feel confident and comfortable during our rounds – even while arguing in front of Washington Supreme Court Justice Steve González. We couldn’t have done it without them.”