AJMLS Leadership: A Re-introduction to Dr. Bridgett Ortega, Associate Dean of Career Services and Professional Development

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Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is led by a dynamic team of leaders and we are pleased to re-introduce you to them in this AJMLS Leadership article series.

Dr. Bridgett Ortega, a veteran of the United States Air Force, is the Associate Dean of Career Services and Professional Development at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. She has been a key administrator since joining the team in early 2011 and is also a Sr. organizational consultant and trainer for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, American University’s Justice Program Office and the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence. She is a lawyer, researcher, and the Past President and Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Juvenile Defender Center in Washington, D.C. She is also currently the Equity and Inclusion Officer for the Georgia affiliate of the ACLU.

Dr. Ortega, who oversees Career Services, Experiential Learning, Alumni Affairs, and the John Marshall Law School Foundation, said “I have lived a charmed life, always involved and engaged in impactful work. Not many people can say that. Working at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, having the ability to share the life and career lessons I’ve learned along the way is the icing on the cake.”

As the Law School has evolved, so has Dr. Ortega, having earned her master’s and doctorate degrees while also serving in roles such as Assistant Dean of Externship and Pro Bono Services and Assistant Dean of Experiential Learning. She has also managed department programs such as Street Law, Re-entry Forum, and Youth and the Law Summit. As a teaching administrator, Dr. Ortega developed and teaches the Learning from Practice course which includes modules on Cultural Competency, Equity and Inclusion, and Navigating Cultural Difference. 

Dr. Ortega has spent over 30 years advocating for criminal and juvenile justice reform. She is a passionate advocate for the incarcerated and their children with an emphasis on compassionate practice in the justice system. She is a National Trainer on subjects dealing with Juvenile and Adult Drug Courts, Compassionate Practice in Problem Solving Courts, Compassionate Communication, Compassionate Family Engagement, Domestic Violence, Equity and Inclusion, Cultural Competency, Improving Outcomes for Children of the Incarcerated and all things Juvenile Justice. Dr. Ortega is the former Deputy Director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Reclaiming Futures Initiative, a juvenile justice reform initiative aimed at creating strategies for intervening in the lives of young people with substance disorders and other issues that bring them into the justice system.

She has been featured in the ABC Nightline “Kids in Court” series and the Frontline Juvenile Justice documentary. Dr. Ortega is the recipient of the ABA Livingston Hall Juvenile Justice Award for outstanding advocacy in juvenile justice, the NAACP Freedom Fund Civil and Human Rights Award and in December of 2018 she was recognized by the National Juvenile Defender Center as a champion for juvenile justice for her work in defending youth rights. She co-founded the Santa Clara County California Juvenile Drug Treatment Court with the Honorable Judge Thomas Edwards for which she received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for invaluable service to the community. Dr. Ortega holds a Master of Arts degree, Juris Doctorate and a Doctorate Degree in Organizational Management and Leadership. Her published research dissertation is entitled, Compassionate Jurisprudence: As Praxis for Justice.

“Having attended a law school very similar to Atlanta’s John Marshall, said Dr. Ortega, “I can honestly say that your career in law has much more to do with your work ethic, your commitment to your clients, and your service than the law school you attended.”

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is thankful for Dr. Ortega’s service to her community and students, and looks forward to her continued leadership as the school converts to a non-profit institution.