Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School was founded in 1933 as an independent, freestanding educational institution dedicated to providing a quality educational opportunity to non-traditional or adult learners, and to other significantly underserved segments of Georgia citizenry. The first Dean of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School was S.B. Fenster who, along with the other founders of the institution, brought with him a dedication to broadening the opportunity for legal education to those traditionally denied such career options. This dedication is evidenced by the fact that Atlanta’s John Marshall was among the first of the southern law schools to integrate its student body and the fact that women have been represented in the student body since the school’s first graduating class.
Since its founding, the school has continued to provide access to legal education to those residents of Georgia who, for what ever reason, were unable to achieve their goal from other, more established institutions of legal education. Alumni of Atlanta’s John Marshall now number in excess of 2,000 members and many have served with distinction as members of the judiciary, public officials, government officials, and as members of the private bar serving the people of the State of Georgia. In 1978, the Supreme Court of Georgia promulgated standards and procedures for the approval of law schools and set forth an application process similar to the accreditation process of the American Bar Association (ABA). After gaining its initial approval, John Marshall Law School had its approval renewed after each subsequent inspection between 1978 and 1987. In 1987, the Supreme Court changed its 1978 promulgation to require that all law schools in the state be approved by the ABA. To meet the goal of achieving ABA approval, the John Marshall Law School Board of Trustees endorsed a plan designed to bring the school into compliance with ABA Standards. To assist in achieving ABA approval, the school signed a management agreement with the Argosy Education Group (AEG), the nation’s largest provider of doctoral level programs in the field of psychology, as well as a significant presence in the fields of education and business. In 2001, after a change in ownership of AEG, the Law School once again found itself a freestanding, independent law school under the direction of then Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr. Michael C. Markovitz. Under the leadership of Dr. Markovitz, the Board of Directors determined that the school would once again seek approval by the ABA and all steps reasonably necessary to accomplish that goal were undertaken. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School has been fully approved by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association since 2009.
During the Law School’s time in Midtown Atlanta, it occupied two separate campuses. The first, at 805 Peachtree St. NE #400, and the second, at 1422 West Peachtree St. NW. A major renovation and growth project was completed is 2011 affording the school two more floors of multi-use classrooms, study facilities, and offices in the adjoining building to 1422 at 1430 West Peachtree St. NW. The expansion connected the 1422 and 1430 buildings by aerial walkways on the 7th and 8th floors. The Law School utilized all nine floors of the 1422 building.
Today, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School remains the sole surviving heir to Georgia’s long tradition of law schools offering a part-time evening program designed to provide access to legal education to non-traditional students. As we move further into the 21st century, the Law School has placed itself in a position to grow and develop into a major institution of legal education in the southeast.
The years 2020 and 2021 provided the Law School with remarkable advancement; appointing Jace C. Gatewood as its 10th and first African American Dean, establishing the John Marshall Law School Foundation, solidifying its qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, appointing a Chief Development Officer to steer the direction of the Foundation in generating scholarship funds, and relocating to a new and improved campus.
The Law School secured the prominent architectural firm, Stevens & Wilkinson, a full-service architecture, engineering and interior design firm, to lead the multi-floor construction of the new facilities in the renowned Marquis Towers. This placed the Law School at the center of commerce, hospitality, entertainment, transit, retail, and so much more when it opened its new doors in August 2021 at 245 Peachtree Center Ave. NE. The Law School occupies floors 18-20.
Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is thankful for its growth and ability to better serve its students, alumni, and legal community.
Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School – different on purpose.
*At different points in Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School’s history, the Law School has been formerly known as both Law School of the South and John Marshall Law School.