Emerging UNT Dallas College of Law is Setting a High Bar

Six UNT Dallas College of Law students were recognized during the J.L. Turner Legal Association Foundation's annual Scholarship & Awards Gala.

J.L. Turner’s 67th Anniversary Scholarship & Awards Gala was a grand affair. The elegance and pageantry was equally accented by its powerful purpose. Since 1982, the J.L. Turner Legal Association Foundation (JLTLA), has hosted an annual event to honor trailblazers in the local black legal community while providing financial support to many deserving law students in the Dallas area. JLTLA is the largest African American bar association of attorneys in the North Texas area, and the Dallas affiliate chapter of the National Bar Association.

Six students who attend the UNT Dallas College of Law were awarded scholarships at the event. Maia Bartee, Danielle Zapata, Demetrius Lee, Dalila Jordan, Hina Syed, and David Burns were among the deserving students. Burns, a second-year law student, is the first-ever recipient of the “Captain Richard G. Stewart, Jag Corp. U.S. Navy (Retired) Legal Education” Scholarship. Captain Stewart received his undergraduate degree from Dillard University, New Orleans, Louisiana; Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Law School, Washington, D.C.; and Master of Law Degree from the George Washington University School of Law. Captain Stewart’s military decorations include the Legion of Merit, Navy Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal.

The scholarship criteria included but was not limited to exceptional law students of color who attend Dallas area law schools and law students with strong ties to Dallas.

Scholarship recipients from UNT Dallas College of Law included:

  • Maia Bartee, who received the Honorable Phyllis Lister Brown Memorial Scholarship
  • Danielle Zapata, who received the Marie Trahan Susman Godfrey Award
  • Demetrius Lee, who received the Fred Finch Scholarship
  • David Burns, who received the Captain Richard G. Stewart Award
  • Dalila Jordan, who received the J.L. Turner Scholarship
  • Hina Syed, who received the J.L. Turner Scholarship


Vicki Blanton, attorney and JLTLA Foundation Chair, shared her thoughts on the 2019 scholarship event. “This year’s Gala focused on A Salute to Service, with a military ball theme, highlighting those who have been or entering into military service,” said Blanton. “To further highlight this sacrifice, the JLTLA Foundation Board approved a new scholarship, the Captain Richard Stewart, JAG Corp. U.S. Navy (Ret.) Legal Education Scholarship, whose namesake was the first African American to head a JAG Corp in the history of the U.S. Navy,” she added proudly.

When asked what it means to have a public college of law in the midst of downtown Dallas, Vicki Blanton offered a response without hesitation. “Having a public law school a few blocks away from the Gala emphasized our goal of ensuring the pipeline remained filled with diverse law students. The Foundation’s primary goal is to provide financial resources to law students who consistently demonstrate academic excellence, in addition to helping those with severe financial needs. UNT Dallas (College of Law) candidates provided significant competition among the pool of applicants, and clearly stood out as worthy Foundation scholars.”

The JLTLA Scholarship and Awards Gala is one of the highlights of the fall social season. It is the annual gathering of the Dallas bench, bar, and the African American community at large. The event always sells out completely with over 400 attendees.

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