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National BLSA Honors Judge Michael A. Shipp ‘94

"Enhancing the Dream," conference theme, reflect Judge Shipp's life and career

Judge_Shipp_honoredOn November 5, on behalf of the National Black Law Students Association (BLSA), Seton Hall Law hosted an alumni reception to kick off BLSA’s bi-monthly national board meeting. The organization recognized the Honorable Michael A. Shipp ’94, who was appointed by President Obama this year to serve on the federal bench for the District of New Jersey. Professor Shavar Jeffries of the Seton Hall Law Center for Social Justice introduced Judge Shipp before 150 members of the Seton Hall Law community, BLSA members representing both the national organization and regional chapters, and friends and family of Judge Shipp – several of whom who flew in from out -of-town to join the celebration. (Pictured, from left: Professor Shavar Jeffries; Judge Shipp; Dean Patrick E. Hobbs; Uche Enwereuzor '13, Seton Hall Law 2012-13 BLSA Chapter President and Tyrone Blackburn '14.)

Tyrone Blackburn ’14, a Seton Hall Law member of BLSA who serves as Chief of Staff for the national organization, had been a strong advocate for bringing the National BLSA meeting to Seton Hall Law and to take the opportunity to honor Judge Shipp. He says “This year’s theme for National BLSA is ‘Enhancing the Dream,’ inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Judge Shipp’s life and career is the embodiment of Dr. King’s vision.”

Judge Shipp entered Seton Hall Law through its Legal Education Opportunities program, an initiative designed to help economically disadvantaged students achieve their potential within the legal profession. His distinguished career spans private practice at Skadden Arps; the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, where he fought for consumer protections and civil rights; the federal bench, where he became New Jersey’s second African American Magistrate Judge, and most recently, his appointment to the U.S. District Court.

As impressive as his career accomplishments are, the students of BLSA are grateful to Judge Shipp for his eagerness to serve as a mentor and sounding board for those who follow in his footsteps. Blackburn said, “Judge Shipp is readily available to offer advice about our education or our careers. While we know he will continue to distinguish himself professionally, he never fails to reach back and bring us all along with him.”

BLSA also selected Professor Jeffries to serve as keynote speaker because, as Blackburn notes, he too reflects the spirit of “Enhancing the Dream.” Blackburn said, “Through Professor Jeffries’ work in the Center for Social Justice, his leadership on the Newark School Board and his accomplishments in the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, his actions and his lifelong pledge of service reflect the values we also recognize in Judge Shipp. Both have done so much to enhance diversity in the law school and the legal profession, that it was only fitting that they share a podium.”

BLSA students also appreciated the support of Professor Brenda Hampden Saunders, who played an important role in ensuring the success of the National BLSA Alumni Reception.

In his introductory remarks, Professor Jeffries said, “In his daily work and life, Judge Shipp enhances the dream by ensuring that the law’s protections under federal and state law are made real in the lives of the litigants he sees on a daily basis. He enhances the dream by providing opportunities for young law students of colors, and attorneys of colors, to serve under his leadership and to learn first-hand the obligations and responsibilities of high-level advocacy and service. And he enhances the dream by giving back to the bench, bar and community by serving on panels and regularly speaking about his work.”

Speaking of the National BLSA Award, and of the ceremony and reception, Judge Shipp said, “I am deeply honored and humbled to be selected as a NBLSA award recipient. As a Seton Hall alumnus, I am proud to be a part of the law school’s rich tradition of supporting NBLSA’s commitment to the development of leaders and resolute dedication to public service.”

As Judge Shipp accepted the award on November 5, he reminded students that while leaders may show them the way to success, ultimately it is each individual who holds the real power to “Enhance the Dream.” His advice: "Don't give up on your dreams because in the end, you, and only you, will be held accountable."

View the photos on Flickr here!