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Board of Advocates

Governing bodies: The Student Bar Association and its new leadership team

“As a first-year law student, I saw the impact the Student Bar Association (SBA) could make and I knew I wanted to be part of it.” Those are the words of Brittainy Boyer, the newly elected president of the SBA. Along with JP Ray, the vice president, Boyer oversees The University of Tulsa College of Law’s organization that serves as its students’ governing body. The SBA also coordinates student activities and other student organizations, while acting as a liaison between students and the college’s administration and faculty.

“Law students can get involved with the SBA as early as their first semester,” Ray noted. “Then, after a year of involvement, they can stand for election or be appointed to a leadership position.” The SBA comprises elected class delegates, a judicial branch and an executive board. “I ran as a 1L delegate,” said Boyer, “and have been involved ever since.” Recently, as TU Law has welcomed increasing numbers of students who begin in the spring semester, a “1/2 L” delegate position has been created so that all classes have representation on this influential decision-making body.

“We have been extremely fortunate to have had dedicated and capable student leadership on our SBA over the years,” remarked Karen M. Grundy, TU Law’s associate dean of students. “The SBA’s mission is to be the voice for the students in the life of the College of Law, and it has been instrumental in putting on time-honored social events, such as Barrister’s Ball, and in establishing new initiatives, such as the Mental Health Fair held in the fall.”

Grundy also commented on how fortunate she has been over the years to work with talented students in the position of SBA president and vice president. “This year is no exception,” she noted. “Boyer and Ray will do an outstanding job representing the students at the College of Law and in helping us to enhance and support our community here at the law school. I look forward to working with both of them in the coming academic year.”

One of the strengths of TU Law, the SBA and the college’s many other student organizations is their ability to bring together people like Boyer and Ray – individuals from different backgrounds who wind up at law school by following a multitude of various paths, but who all thrive in the college’s tight-knit, supportive community and work hard to excel.

So, who are this year’s SBA leaders? Where did they come from? What makes them tick? Here, Boyer and Ray introduce themselves.

Brittainy Boyer’s “evolving” dream

Osiyo. I’m Brittainy Boyer. My friends call me BB.

Some of my classmates will tell you they have always known they wanted to be a lawyer. That was the not case for me. My dream was to be a teacher, like my mother, and to provide children with a solid foundation on which to build their lives. My dream evolved as I saw how often children were denied the opportunity to succeed because of early and frequent contact with the criminal justice system. I wanted the chance to join in with others whose goal it was to stop the school-to-prison pipeline, and so I applied to law school.

Student Bar Association President Brittainy Boyer smiling and wearing a white open-collar shirt and a black blazer
SBA President Brittainy Boyer

As a teenager, I was among the near 30% of students at my high school who did not graduate. I worked in the service industry for over 10 years, waiting tables and making lattes. During that time, I organized and participated in many volunteer events, most of which were to support public schools, the LGBTQI+ community and animals. Through leadership opportunities and volunteering activities, I realized that there was more that I wanted to do.

I enrolled at Tulsa Community College and, at the age of 30, I received my first diploma. Next, I went to Northeastern State University, where I majored in history and minored in theater. While I was finishing up my bachelor’s, my partner encouraged me to take the LSAT. At the time, law school seemed out of reach for someone like me: a person who had not finished high school and who had been working at Starbucks for the last nine years. Nevertheless, I gathered up my courage, took the LSAT, applied to TU Law and was accepted.

TU Law is a small, tight-knit school that prepares us to be hard-working, zealous advocates. The college also encourages volunteer work, which was of the utmost importance to me when I was considering where to apply. As I have progressed in my studies, I have experienced the ease of access to professors and their willingness to assist in a multitude of situations. I should mention, too, that I watched my partner go through law school at TU and I saw how prepared she was for the bar exam and for her career as an attorney.

Serving as SBA president alongside JP is a great honor. But the SBA is not the only organization that grabbed my heart. In my time here, I have served as an executive board member of the Board of Advocates, which hosts moot court competitions for the law school. I have also served on the executive board member of the Public Interest Board, which promotes pro bono and volunteer work within the law school.

I also had the privilege of serving on the board of the Women’s Law Caucus as the Women in Recovery Book Club coordinator. I also served as president of Paw Law, a student organization that promotes the safety and well-being of animals. I am, likewise, a member of many other student organizations, including the Native American Law Student Association, OutLaws (LGBTQI+) and ImmLaw (immigration rights), to name just a few. There are countless ways for TU Law students to be involved in the issues that matter to them.

JP Ray’s “powerful sense of community”

My name is JP Ray and I grew up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. After high school, I accepted an athletic scholarship at Central Christian College of Kansas. I graduated a year early with a bachelor of science in business management. With my family’s legacy of using education to create better opportunities for the next generation, I’ve always known I wanted to obtain some form of further education.

Student Bar Association Vice President JP Ray smiling and wearing a blue blazer and blue open-collar shirt
SBA Vice President JP Ray

Initially, I wanted to pursue a career in managerial leadership and use the analytical skills learned in law school to compliment my business management training. However, my desires changed when I arrived at TU Law. This school has a powerful sense of community, which has influenced me to follow a more impactful career in criminal justice and civil litigation. TU Law’s core values are centered around excellence in scholarship, dedication to free inquiry, integrity of character, professionalism and commitment to justice and humanity. One of my favorite things about this school is that it backs up its core values with a high bar passage rate, job placement and educational recognition throughout the country.

Another thing TU Law does well is promoting the importance of obtaining legal experience while in law school. Most schools require their students to get experience; however, not every law school has the remarkable Professional Development Office that TU Law has. I have obtained valuable hands-on experience at litigation firms, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Tulsa County Public Defender’s Office.

Like Brittainy, I have also gotten involved in several student organizations. There’s the SBA, as well as the Black Law Students Association, Federalist Society and Board of Advocates. For me, though, being an active member of the SBA is one of the best ways to experience the rigors and excitement of leadership and to work with diverse personalities.

As an African American with no lawyers in my family history, one of the hardest challenges I overcame as a student was learning the right way to study for classes. As a collegiate student-athlete, I graduated one year early with honors; yet, I found my first year of law school extremely difficult. I was challenged in ways I had never been challenged academically before. Nevertheless, I relied on my family’s encouragement to use education to create better opportunities, and I made the adjustments necessary to succeed and overcame my first-year struggles. Now, I use my story and experience as a first-generation minority law student to help others overcome the challenges they face.


Are you considering taking the plunge and becoming a lawyer? Discover how TU Law can help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to unleash your inner advocate.

TU Law student awarded prestigious diversity scholarship

Earlier this summer, Gavin Burl – a rising second-year student at The University of Tulsa College of Law – received the good news that he had been awarded a Diversity Scholars Program scholarship from the law firm Crowe & Dunlevy. Each year, Crowe & Dunlevy presents this major honor to a TU Law candidate based on “academic achievement, financial need and commitment to the law.”

Still carrying a glow from his recent study-abroad month at University College Dublin, Burl spoke passionately about the difference this scholarship will make to him: “I am thankful to Crowe & Dunlevy for giving me this opportunity to move forward in law school with less of a financial burden. It’s lifted that burden to where I can think more clearly. It makes things easier for myself and for my family, and now I can focus on being the best law student I can be.”

“Promoting diversity is important to our firm and the legal community as a whole,” said Susan E. Huntsman, a director at Crowe & Dunlevy and a member of the firm’s Diversity Committee. “Helping aspiring attorneys from a variety of backgrounds reach their educational goals strengthens our firm, our profession and our state. Gavin joins other outstanding students who have received this scholarship since our Diversity Scholars Program began at The University of Tulsa College of Law in 2011. Many of these students have gone on to be leaders in our state and beyond. Gavin’s demonstrated leadership and academic achievement are to be commended.”

A stormy start

Today, Burl is a thoughtful young man with a clear vision of the direction he wants to take with his education and in his career. That clarity, however, masks the struggle and hard work required to get him to his present state.

At age 8, Burl’s world literally was swept out from under him. Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Burl was one of the many thousands of people in that city who endured the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on the Gulf Coast Aug. 29, 2005. Like so many other residents of the Big Easy, Burl and his family were forced to flee Louisiana with all of their belongings stuffed into a single SUV.

After three months living in a hotel, the Burls ultimately settled in a suburb of Dallas. After high school, Burl then moved to Ada, Oklahoma, to attend East Central University. There, he played on the Tigers football team and completed a bachelor of science degree in political science. During his junior year, he went on a class trip to visit TU Law and, almost immediately, knew he had found his next academic home.

Law school: “It allows you to grow.”

One of the things that has impressed Burl the most about student life at TU law is how surviving the “hardships” and “challenges” of first year “allows you to grow in a way that most other experiences can’t provide.” Burl was, indeed, struck by his previously unknown capacity during his first year to rise to the challenge of competing – and taking second place – in the Board of Advocates Negotiation Competition. Now, about to enter his second year at TU Law, one of the activities Burl is most looking forward to is contributing to the Energy Law Journal.

“Gavin’s background and experience make him a valuable addition to our law community,” said TU Law’s Associate Dean for Student Affairs Karen Grundy. “A rising second-year student, Gavin has already demonstrated promise for a highly impactful legal career. We are so pleased that he has been recognized as a Crowe & Dunlevy Diversity Scholar, and we are profoundly grateful to Crowe & Dunlevy for their continuing support of our students.”

Service and diversity

When asked why he chose to study the law, Burl replied, “I’ve always wanted to serve the people – in any capacity. Yet, where I’m from, you’re often taught that the only way you can make it is through athletics. People who look like me, we’re not really exposed to professions like law.”

As an undergraduate, however, Burl was exposed to legal studies. He quickly discovered a passion for the subject, and “before I knew it, I found myself interested in learning just how under-represented minorities are in all forms of employment in the legal system. From there it felt like it was my duty to go into that field and serve.

“The system ought to reflect the diversity of this country. I believe that diversity is imperative in every area of every profession. The root of all conflict in society is lack of diversity, and when there’s lack of diversity there’s lack of communication between different ethnicities, and when there’s lack of communication between different ethnicities there’s unfamiliarity. So many types of issues can arise from just not knowing your brothers or your sisters of different colors.”

Looking to the future

Burl’s ethic of service permeates the vision for his future career: “In what way can I serve my community? How can I influence my community in a positive way?” At present, Burl sees municipal law and sustainable energy and natural resources law as two of the fields that would provide him with the most ample opportunities to accomplish his goals. “Those areas demand so much cooperation and so much communication with others,” Burl observed. “And that’s what I think legal work should be about.”

 

Exploring paths to make a positive impact in your community? Consider a career as a lawyer by earning a JD through TU Law.