J.D. Honors Program in Criminal Justice

“[W]e set our sights on the embarrassing target of mediocrity. I guess that means about halfway. And that raises a question: Are we willing to put up with halfway justice? To my way of thinking, one-half justice must mean one-half injustice, and one-half injustice is no justice at all.” – Former Georgia Chief Justice Harold G. Clarke

Recognizing an increased student interest in the field of criminal law, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School launched the Honors Program in Criminal Justice in 2011. Now, only a few years later, the law school has noticed the desire to enter the program has expanded from prospective students only to current students as well. In an effort to broaden the Program’s reach, the law school has made some structural changes in hopes of allowing all students the opportunity to pursue this career track.  Originally designed with specialized coursework beginning in the first year, the Program required students to apply before entering law school without the possibility of later transitioning into the Program.  Therefore, many John Marshall students were ineligible because they did not come to the decision to join the Program until after beginning their law school careers.

Under the revised structure, students will continue to take the same comprehensive, criminal law focused curriculum.  However, the specialized coursework will begin in the fall semester of the second year of law school.  Honors Program students would take all other required coursework during their second and third years.  This modification will allow students who are inspired in their first year to pursue careers in criminal justice to benefit from this unique Program. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is excited about this step in the evolution of this cutting-edge Program. By making the Honor Program accessible to more of our students, while maintaining the quality of the educational experience, it allows the law school to better prepare a larger cadre of John Marshall graduates to positively impact the quality of justice in our nation’s criminal courts.

Practical Curriculum

The Honors Program in Criminal Justice curriculum prepares graduates to practice criminal law, whether as a prosecutor or a defender. Core components of the program approach include:

  1. Integration – Students appreciate how all of the courses in the criminal law curriculum relate to one another and to the larger practice of law;
  2. Application – Students not only understand these lessons in theory, but learn how to apply these lessons to situations they will encounter in their practice;
  3. Reality Based – Students not only learn the ideals that underscore any criminal law curriculum, but also understand how the criminal justice system works in reality.

Students graduate equipped with strategies to allow them to shape the criminal justice arena rather than simply being shaped by it. The Honors Program in Criminal Justice provides an integrated, applied approach to legal education that equips our students with the necessary strategies to be ethical, professional, and moral lawyers in less than perfect systems. Entering and transfer students are eligible to apply, as well as students who are currently enrolled in their first year at AJMLS.

Expert Faculty

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is particularly qualified to offer this intensive, practical criminal law program. It boasts a faculty of experts in the practice of criminal law, with a combined total of over 75 years of practical experience in the field. Our faculty members are well-connected to the criminal justice community both locally and nationally. Our low student-to-faculty ratio allows for our students to be mentored by their professors.

Real-World Experience

Students enrolled in the Honors Program in Criminal Justice will complete an externship in their third year, where they will be afforded the opportunity to apply curriculum lessons in a criminal law placement. Our location in the heart of Atlanta provides access to a wide variety of criminal law related externship opportunities. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School has established and approved externship placements with many criminal courts, juvenile law and advocacy agencies, public defenders offices, prosecutors offices and municipal and state agencies. For information, contact us at cjhadmissions@johnmarshall.edu or (678) 916-2620.

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