Legal Skills & Advocacy

The Legal Skills and Professionalism Program at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School takes a holistic approach to preparing students for success during and after law school. Legal writing is infused throughout a student’s law school experience. In their first year, students earn six credit hours for Legal Writing, Research and Analysis I and II. In an experiential setting, students learn the basics of legal analysis, research, citation, and structure, culminating in the preparation of both objective and persuasive legal documents. In their second and third year, students must earn an additional five hours of upper-division writing credits, for a total of eleven hours of instruction focused exclusively on the development of the students’ writing and other legal skills. Currently, students choose among Pretrial Practice & Procedure, Trial Advocacy & Writing, ADR & Writing, Transactional Drafting and Advanced Appellate Advocacy. In addition to the required courses in our fully developed skills curriculum, students are encouraged to take electives that are specifically designed to enhance targeted skill sets. The school continues to expand its offering of skills-based electives that currently include:

  • Client Interviewing & Counseling
  • Depositions
  • Mediation (qualifies toward state registration)
  • Negotiations

All of these classes are presented in a practical learning environment, where client simulation is at the forefront. To ensure students remain exclusively focused on skill development; these elective classes are offered on a pass/fail basis. All of the Legal Skills Program Faculty work closely to maintain consistency across the curriculum and ensure students are transferring skills from one classroom to another. The classes throughout the legal skills curriculum are small—25 students or less—and each includes a significant professionalism component. Professors with experience both in academia and law practice teach the classes and meet personally with their students who receive individually tailored and constructive feedback. We enable student success through an integrated skills curriculum, which includes:

  • Four semester required writing program;
  • Integration of analytic and writing skills necessary to succeed on the bar exam and in the practice of law into required writing courses and elective skills courses;
  • Application of skills mastered in the required first year program to simulated real world situations such as developing litigation strategies, formulating discovery plans, preparing for negotiations or mediation, and assessing the enforceability of contract provisions;
  • Implementation of teaching strategies that complement students’ learning styles and multiple intelligences; and
  • Incorporation of ethical and professionalism issues in all writing and skills courses.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE LEGAL SKILLS PROGRAM: “I can emphatically say that the Legal Skills & Professionalism Program at Atlanta’s John Marshall prepared me to be a successful advocate. Under the instruction of Professor Sigman, I learned how to present myself, and most importantly, my clients’ positions professionally. While learning to research, write and argue the law is the foundation of any legal education, the guidance of the Legal Skills faculty helped me distinguish myself as a law student who graduated at the top of my class. Undoubtedly, the legal skills I developed at AJMLS are serving me well in the practice of law.”

– Amelia Ragan – AJMLS Alumni ‘10

“The Legal Skills & Professionalism Program at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School covers a broad range of categories, from advanced appellate advocacy to transactional drafting, introducing students to the ways lawyers analyze, research and present their work in the legal community. Whether it’s writing or giving an oral argument, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School has prepared me for the legal profession. In fact, the quality of our legal skills program has inspired me to take as many legal writing courses as I can before graduation to gain the practical experience necessary to be a great lawyer.”

– Ashley Gholamhosseini – AJMLS Alumni ’11