Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Welcomes Linda A. Klein as 2018 Commencement Speaker

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to announce Ms. Linda A. Klein, of Baker Donelson, as the Law School’s 2018 commencement speaker. Commencement exercises are scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. on May 19, 2018 at the Cobb Galleria Centre – Two Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, Georgia 30339.


Dean Malcolm L. Morris notes,

The Law School is very excited that Ms. Linda Klein will be the commencement speaker for the 2018 graduation. She is a leading figure in the legal profession as indicated by her service as the President of both the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Georgia. Ms. Klein is a highly regarded attorney who frequently has been invited to speak both throughout the country and abroad. We are privileged to have her address our graduates and look forward to her words of advice and inspiration for them.  


About Ms. Linda A. Klein


Linda Klein is a senior managing shareholder at Baker Donelson. She regularly counsels on business dispute prevention and resolution, contract law, risk and crisis management, media relations, ethics, and governance. She is particularly experienced in advising the construction, pharmaceutical, and higher education industries. She also advises lawyers, architects, accountants, and other professionals at risk for large claims or their licenses.

Ms. Klein is the immediate past president (CEO) of the American Bar Association, the largest voluntary professional association in the world, operating in 60 countries with 900 employees and a budget in excess of $200 million.

Ms. Klein is also listed in The Best Lawyers in America®, Who’s Who in America, and Chambers USA. She is regularly named to the Super Lawyers top 100 lawyers in Georgia. In 1998, following her term as the first woman to serve as president of the State Bar of Georgia, Georgia Trend Magazine named her one of the 100 most powerful and influential Georgians.

Within the American Bar Association, she has previously served as chair of the  House of Delegates, the association’s policy making body. She has also served as chair of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, and chair of ABA Day, the Association’s Congressional outreach effort. She is a recent member of the Council of the ABA Section of International Law and also serves as a columnist Law Practice Management Magazine. In 2013 Ms. Klein had the honor of being a McGlothlin fellow on the campuses of William and Mary’s Business and Law Schools. She delivered the commencement addresses at Georgia State University College of Law (2017), Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (2017), Pepperdine University School of Law (2016), and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2012). In 2009, Ms. Klein was honored with the Randolph Thrower Award for Lifetime Achievement and was named to the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers. In 2004, the American Bar Association honored Ms. Klein with the prestigious Margaret Brent Achievement Award.

She currently serves on the executive committee of the Buckhead Coalition and on the advisory boards of Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers. She is a past president of Southface Energy Institute, the Board of Directors’ Network, the Caucus of State Bars, and past chair of both the Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia and the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia. She also served a six-year term on Baker Donelson’s Board of Directors.

Ms. Klein has authored numerous published works. Her lecture schedule has included presentations in France, Sweden, Spain, Russia, Great Britain, Japan, Croatia, and Canada, but most extensively in the southeast United States. She is a member of the American Law Institute, and a mediator and arbitrator, frequently serving as a neutral as well as a client advocate.


Linda A. Klein notes,

It is an honor to celebrate the graduates of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School as they begin their careers. As lawyers, they will have the opportunity to have a meaningful impact on our society by helping bring access to justice to so many who need it.


Tickets are not required for entry. For information regarding parking or other ceremony or venue related topics, you may visit here and/or here. There will be a small reception immediately following the ceremony for the graduates and their guests, faculty, staff, and volunteers.

Lawyers for Equal Justice is Doing Big Things in the Legal Community

Let’s start with the basics – What exactly is Lawyers for Equal Justice (L4EJ)? L4EJ is an incubator program that provides a springboard for recent law school graduates to start innovative, socially conscious, and sustainable law practices providing affordable legal services to low and moderate income clients. It seeks to identify talented, public-interest minded, and entrepreneurial lawyers who want to build innovative practices that “break the mold” to provide cost-effective services. L4EJ is not a law firm. Participants of the 18-month program are chosen through a competitive selection process that includes a personal statement and interview. L4EJ accepts a group of up to 10 participants every November and June, with up to 30 participants total in the program at any time. Participants benefit from a collaborative office environment; a case referral program; practical resources including law practice management technology; and top-notch training, mentoring and business coaching.

Lawyers for Equal Justice is a non-profit organization and a collaborative project of the Georgia Supreme Court, State Bar of Georgia, and the five ABA-approved law schools in Georgia – Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, Emory University School of Law, Georgia State University College of Law, Mercer University School of Law, and University of Georgia School of Law.

Why the need for L4EJ when Georgia has a non-profit legal sector? There are over 1.69 million Georgia households in the low and moderate income brackets who do not qualify for free services and cannot afford legal help. It is estimated that 90% of these Georgians do not obtain legal help for issues where legal representation could significantly change the outcome and improve their lives significantly. Practices that are born out of the L4EJ collaboration bridge the gap by providing quality legal services that are accessible and affordable.

To provide more insight in to the L4EJ experience and the resources available to participants, please find personal accounts from two Atlanta’s John Marshall graduates and L4EJ members below.

David A. (D.A.) Wilson

I graduated Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in May of 2016. After sitting for the July 2016 Georgia Bar Exam, I moved to Boston where I enrolled in Boston University School of Law LL.M. in Taxation program. While at BU, I considered two career paths, (1) go the “Big Four” accounting firm route or (2) hang my own shingle.  Little did I know (or anticipate) that the U.S. Tax Code would be reformed and the Big Four accounting firms were waiting out the storm and not hiring as much. This forced me to consider starting my own practice a lot more seriously and in the Spring of 2017 I really ramped up my solo practitioner efforts. I was home in Atlanta attending a mandatory bar event when I bumped into a John Marshall alum, who was in the Lawyers For Equal Justice Program.  At the time, I had no idea what the program was about but I knew if I started my own practice I could use all the help I could get. I went on a tour and realized it was for me. The resources and office atmosphere were exactly what needed and looking for. I started Lawyers for Equal Justice and my own practice on June 5, 2017 and haven’t looked back. It hasn’t been easy but I absolutely love working myself, my office atmosphere, my work life balance, and doing pro bono work.  

JB Hilliard

Having spent 20+ years as an entrepreneur before law school, I knew long before I finished at AJMLS that I would eventually have my own law practice. Lawyers for Equal Justice allowed me the opportunity to step in to that role much sooner than I had planned. And I am so very grateful for this program. It’s not just the pro bono experience and office space on the renowned PEACHTREE STREET that are highlights of the program. But for me, the software resources and access to ongoing training were the selling points. I know how expensive it is to have all of the things in place to get a business off the ground. And what I’ve already received through L4EJ is worth more than the program fee!

The core law school curriculum teaches us the law and prepares us for the bar exam. But it does not teach us how to BE lawyers, and it certainly does not teach us how to run a business. The role of business owner is typically mastered by trial and error, by actually being in the trenches and just DOING it. L4EJ allows a safe environment for this learning process. And not only are we exposed to a wide range of opportunities to “practice” law (the pro bono prospects are endless), but there is also the unintentional networking that occurs. Not long ago, we had a great in-person training/presentation given by a veteran attorney, and it happened to be in one of my practice areas, Estate Planning. Just about a month or so later, I saw her at an event and we instantly connected without it being awkward or forced. Now she’s an informal mentor of mine!

My favorite part of L4EJ is the continuous collaboration among the program participants. It’s great to have someone nearby to bounce ideas off of, or to get ideas from, in such a cooperative, friendly and supportive environment!

It’s one thing to START a business, but it’s a whole other thing to STAY in business. I can’t really say enough about the program in this short article. However, I can say that if anyone wants to launch his or her own solo law practice, the support and resources that you can get from L4EJ are priceless. You already have the talent, but L4EJ adds the tools and training to keep you in this game!  The under-served communities need you, and you need L4EJ.

Lawyers for Equal Justice seats two classes a year in June and November. If you are interested in joining the November 2018 class, you are encouraged to reach out to Sarah Babcock, Executive Director, at

AJMLS Welcomes 2018-2019 SBA Executive Board

The student body of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) recently elected a new Student Bar Association (SBA) Executive Board.

The 2018-2019 officers are:

President: Genghis Shakhan
Vice President: Chelsea Wilkerson
Treasurer: Stephanie Dennis
Secretary: Natalie Foster
Parliamentarian: Dwight Harris

All enrolled students at AJMLS are automatically members of the SBA. The SBA is AJMLS’ student government and main student activities board. The SBA works to represent all student viewpoints to the administration and faculty. The SBA’s functions are many and varied, but can be divided into three general categories: academic, service, and social.

If you would like to learn how to get involved, contact any member of SBA in person or by e-mail at

Professor Mears’ Article Selected for Cover of The Journal Jurisprudence

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Associate Professor Michael Mears’ article, “An American Tragedy: The Story of Johnny Lyn Old Chief,” has been selected as the cover article for The Journal Jurisprudence Easter Term 2018. The Journal Jurisprudence is an international law journal publication and issued four times per year. Each edition focuses on a key question of the legal discipline. Quarterly articles are curated based upon, among other things, accessibility to lay readers. The Journal focuses on bridging the gap between theory and practice and readability by a wide audience.*

Professor Mears is an active writer and is the author of numerous articles and books. He currently serves as the Chairperson of the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE). At Atlanta’s John Marshall, he teaches Evidence, Advanced Criminal Procedure, and Ethics. He has enjoyed a long and illustrious career within and beyond the classroom.

Congratulations, Professor Mears! The article is an incredibly worthy read. You can purchase a copy of The Journal on Amazon here.

*Taken from The Journal Jurisprudence.


AJMLS Alumna Recognized as “Best Social Mediator” by the Daily Report

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) alumna, Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert, has been named “Best Social Mediator” by the Daily Report. The “Best Social Mediator” category of the Daily Report Professional Excellence awards is designed to honor an attorney with a social media account that educates and, responsibly, entertains lawyers about the practice and the community.* The Daily Report is the leading legal publication of metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia. It provides vigorously researched and purposefully presented news and intelligence that has wide-ranging implications for legal practice in the South.**

Gore-Cuthbert is a Class of 2012 graduate of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, where she was very active in the AJMLS community. She even served as President of the Student Bar Association her 3L year. Following graduation, she founded Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group. There she is committed to building a close working relationship with her clients to provide quality, compassionate, and efficient legal representation. Her areas of practice include: auto collisions; victims hit by drunk drivers; motorcycle collisions; trucking collisions; wrongful death; and slip and fall.

Congratulations on this distinguished honor, Jennifer! We look forward to watching your legal practice grow and continue to enrich the Atlanta community.

*Taken from the Daily Report.
**Taken from the Daily Report About Us.

AJMLS Co-Hosted 2018 Annual Youth & The Law Summit

On Saturday, April 28th, the Office of Experiential Learning at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, along with the Fulton County Juvenile Court, Gate City Bar Foundation, Inc., The King and Spalding African American Associates Affinity Group, and Child First, collectively hosted the 2018 Youth & The Law Summit. This year’s event was Surviving Trauma, The Effects of Trauma on Childhood Development and Urban Communities.

The event was specially designed to be accessible for all that could benefit from the educational material. It was free and open to the public. Included were breakout sessions for parents and teens and breakfast and lunch was provided to all attendees. Parking at the Law School was offered gratuitously and shuttles were provided from the Juvenile Court.

Special thanks go to out to AJMLS’ own Dr. Bridgett Ortega and Ms. Carolyn Roan for all that they did to make the event a success. The event was a tremendous accomplishment for both the Atlanta community and the Office of Experiential Learning. We look forward to next year’s event!

Reece Riden Named Outstanding Student of the Month for April

The Office of Student Affairs and Pro Bono Programs recently presented the Outstanding Student Award for April to Maurice “Reece” Riden. Each month the Office of Student Affairs and Pro Bono Programs recognizes one Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) students who has excelled in the areas of distinguished service to others, citizenship, innovation, leadership, diversity advancement, and promotion of the John Marshall Proud spirit. The recipient serves as a source of pride and inspiration to others by giving unselfishly of themselves to enhance life on and off campus. In addition, these student leaders make AJMLS a better place for all of us.

Riden is a change agent, servant and leader. We have all seen Riden around campus wearing many hats and performing many roles, and he has been outstanding in his service to the law school and the community. He currently serves as a student ambassador and mentor in the Peer Mentoring Program and has been recognized for his work on and off campus. This year, he received the Phi Alpha Delta Vice Justice Award from the national chapter of Phi Alpha Delta and the 2018 Peer Mentor of the Year Award. Riden’s mentees in the Peer Mentoring Program speak very highly of him and his contributions to the school’s mentoring program. Not only does Riden coach and provide guidance and direction to his mentees, he also selflessly offers a helping hand, listening ear and words of encouragement to many other students on a regular basis. According to one upperclassman, he has taken many of our 1Ls and 2Ls under his wing who were not assigned to him through the mentoring program and has worked closely with these students to ensure their success. Riden is dedicated to being his best, helping others to be their best, and making a positive impact.

Riden’s civic mindedness and volunteerism extend beyond the walls of the law school and legal community. Through his membership with Phi Alpha Delta, he organized weekly visits to My Sister’s House of the Atlanta Mission. He also assisted with the GABWA Glitter Gala and is a mentor and role model for young men through his church’s youth group. He is a strong proponent for diversity initiatives and inclusion. Notably, Riden was one of the three top candidates for the Law School Admission Council Diversity Office’s summer program. And while he is excited for graduation, we will certainly miss him. Thank you, Reece, for all that you do for the AJMLS community. You are outstanding!

BLSA Named Outstanding Student Organization of Spring 2018

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) proudly awarded the Spring 2018 Outstanding Student Organization of the Semester Award to the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). This award recognizes student organizations that have excelled in leadership and made positive contributions to the student experience, the law school, and the surrounding community in a given semester. In addtion, BLSA deserves double kudos, as it was also awarded this honor in Fall 2017.

Included below are some of the events that BLSA sponsored this semester:

  • Black History Month Symposium;
  • Mental Health Seminar;
  • Black Panther Movie Night; and
  • 25 Year Anniversary Celebration.

Notably, BLSA raised in excess of $5000 for scholarship funds for the 25 Year Anniversary Celebration. In addition, BLSA spearheaded a month-long celebration for Black History Month, in which they recognized the accomplishments of prominent black figures on the JMTV community screens.

The Selection Committee thoughtfully reviewed each nomination. Although BLSA was ultimately selected for the award, the Committee was impressed with the accomplishments of all AJMLS student organizations. The Committee would also like to give honorable mentions to the Corporate and Business Law Society and the Solo Practitioners’ Law Society.

Congratulations, BLSA, on being chosen as the Spring 2018 Outstanding Student Organization! We cannot wait to see all the good you continue to do in the AJMLS community.

Michelle Jackson Joins AJMLS as Director of Financial Aid

Michelle Jackson has rejoined the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) staff as the Director of Financial Aid. AJMLS is committed to assisting students in financing their legal education through a comprehensive financial aid program. The primary purpose of the Financial Aid Office is to provide students with the resources that will financially enable them through their journey as law students.

Ms. Jackson earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Grambling State University and her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She rejoins AJMLS with a plethora of experience as she has served in various financial aid roles since 1994. Additionally, from 2012 to 2015, Ms. Jackson served as a Financial Aid Counselor before being promoted to the role of Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Atlanta’s John Marshall.

A move to Texas took Ms. Jackson away from AJMLS, but in her own words, “I came back because I loved working here and my heart is in Atlanta.” Ms. Jackson also notes that she has a genuine desire to help students. Welcome back, Ms. Jackson! AJMLS and the Financial Aid Office are thrilled to have you serve in this capacity.

Ms. Jackson can be reached by email at Additionally, her office is located on the 7th Floor of the Law School.

AJMLS Alumnus, Erik Provitt, Selected as a Georgia Housing Corps Fellow

Class of 2016 Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) alumnus, Erik Provitt, has been selected as a Georgia Housing Corps Fellow (GHC). GHC is a new Fellowship program designed to address the barriers to housing stability in rural and urban communities in Georgia. GHC is being launched by Equal Justice Works. Equal Justice Works is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization committed to mobilizing the next generation of public interest attorneys.*

Founded by law students in 1986, Equal Justice Works is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice. To this end, Equal Justice Works creates opportunities for law students and lawyers that provide the training and skills that enable them to provide effective representation to underserved communities and causes. The Equal Justice Works Fellowships programs fund hundreds of public interest attorneys each year to close the justice gap on issues such as foreclosure, community economic development, immigration, civil rights, homelessness, access to healthcare, and domestic violence.

Erik is a staff attorney with Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF)’s Standing with Our Neighbors Program. The Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation was created in 1979 through the joint efforts of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, the Atlanta Bar Association, the Atlanta Council of Younger Lawyers, and the Gate City Bar Association. AVLF is the largest provider of pro bono legal services in Greater Atlanta.*** At AVLF, Erik specifically focuses on housing issues in neighborhoods on Atlanta’s Westside.

Sponsored by the Georgia Bar Foundation, eleven Fellows and seven community advocates have been selected to join Georgia Housing Corps. GHC will provide a combination of services including client representation on housing and housing-related issues, community outreach and education to community members and property owners, and advocacy to remove systemic barriers to housing at the local and statewide levels.

Congratulations on your selection, Erik! The AJMLS community is proud of the work that you are doing right here in Atlanta. We look forward to continuing to watch your career thrive.

*Taken from PR Newswire.
**Taken from Equal Justice Works.
***Taken from Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation.

Four AJMLS Professors Secure Highest Rating Allowed by Martindale Hubbell

Four Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) professors have been given the highest rating allowed by Martindale-Hubbell for 2018. Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings allow attorneys to complete anonymous peer reviews where they rate fellow lawyers on a 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) scale in five categories: Legal Knowledge, Analytical Capabilities, Judgment, Communication Ability and Legal Experience. Attorneys also answer whether or not they believe the lawyer they are reviewing has very high ethical standards.*

Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings are acknowledged as the gold standard in attorney ratings and have recognized lawyers for their strong legal ability and high ethical standards for more than a century. Peer review ratings deliver a comprehensive view of a lawyer’s legal abilities and service and benefit the entire legal community.*

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Professors Mears, Goins, Kessler, and Murphy have each secured an impressive 5.0/5.0 rating. AJMLS is proud of our professors for their accomplishments inside and outside of the classroom, and we are always thrilled when our professors are commended by their peers in the legal community. Please be sure to express your congratulations when you see the recipient professors around campus!

*Taken from

BLSA Excelled at Southern Regional Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) recently sent two teams to the Southern Regional Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition (SRBLSA) in Birmingham, Alabama. The first team consisted of Chelsea Wilkerson (Class of 2019) and Genghis X. Shakhan (Class of 2019) and the second team consisted of Natalie Foster (Class of 2019) and JoVanne Stewart (Class of 2019).

AJMLS is pleased to announce that both teams made a great showing at the SRBLSA Convention and represented the Law School admirably. Wilkerson was commended by multiple judges for being “unshakable” and for her ability to command their attention. Shakhan was told he ‘belonged in a courtroom’ by the National Moot Court Advisor and received positive feedback for his ability to handle difficult questions from the bench with ease.

After defeating teams from Emory University, the University of Alabama, and the University of North Carolina, Foster and Stewart placed first in the competition. They impressed the judges with their superior oral and written advocacy skills and their thoughtful responses to difficult questions. They will advance to participate in the National Competition scheduled to take place in Brooklyn, New York.

Please congratulate all of our competitors for their outstanding performance! Please also wish the members of the team luck as they prepare for the national competition.

AJMLS Student, Crystal Fenn, Secures Gate City Bar Association Scholarship

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) 3L student, Crystal Fenn, recently secured one of the four Gate City Bar Association 2017 Scholarships following an application and essay process. Fenn learned of the scholarship opportunity from the AJMLS Office of Student Affairs and Pro Bono Programs and the Black Law Students Association (BLSA).

Fenn is set to graduate from AJMLS later this month. Her post-graduation goals are to pass the February 2018 Bar Examination and secure a position practicing Estate Planning and Civil Rights litigation. During her three years at AJMLS, Crystal was active on campus and dedicated to her studies. Her favorite courses were Race and Law, taught by Professor Alphran (pictured with Fenn), and Constitutional Law. She also served as the Marketing Manager for the National Lawyers Guild.

The Gate City Bar Association was founded in 1948 and is the oldest African-American bar association in the state of Georgia. It was established to provide the educational, social and community involvement of a professional association for African-American lawyers. Part of our mission is to encourage persons of outstanding promise to attend first-rate law schools and return to the communities that need their services most.*

Congratulations on this honor, Crystal! We wish you all the best following graduation. The AJMLS community looks forward to your continued success.

*From the Gate City Bar Association website.

Congratulations to the First Annual Pro Bono Challenge Award Recipients

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is proud to announce the First Annual Pro Bono Challenge award recipients. These awards recognize the student, faculty member and faculty-student team who earned the most pro bono credits during the two-week challenge. Please be sure to congratulate these students and faculty members when you see them on campus!

Faculty Award Recipient
Professor Kathleen Burch

Student Award Recipient
Kimberly Rojik

Faculty-Student Team Recipients
Professor Kathleen Burch
Professor Michael Mears
Myeedah Leslie-Green
Lana Joseph
Fredis Romero
Mandira Sethi

Black Law Students Association (BLSA) Named The Outstanding Student Organization Of Fall 2017

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School proudly awarded the Fall 2017 Outstanding Student Organization of the Semester Award to the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). This award recognizes student organizations that have excelled in leadership and made positive contributions to the student experience, the law school, and the surrounding community in a given semester. Included below are some of the events that BLSA sponsored this semester:

  • Throwback Thursday Event;
  • Professional Workshop Event;
  • Morris, Manning and Martin Attorney Dinner;
  • Atlanta Community Food Bank Community Service;
  • BLSA Children’s Book Drive;
  • Locking Up Our Own, James Forman, Jr. Speaker Event;
  • Marshall Movie Event.

Congratulations, BLSA, on being chosen as the Fall 2017 Outstanding Student Organization! We cannot wait to see all the good you continue to do in the AJMLS community.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Faculty Members Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries

In 2017, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is fortunate to celebrate major milestone faculty anniversaries for six professors. Professor Michael Lynch is celebrating 20 years with AJMLS while Professors Dalton, Jeffries, McMillian, Mears, and Rapping are all celebrating 10 years with the Law School.

AJMLS is built on the principle that the Law School is dedicated to preparing highly skilled, ethical, and professional lawyers who possess a strong social conscience. The seasoned professors celebrating milestone anniversaries this year live that mission everyday. Each is an irreplaceable member of our Law School and an invaluable member of the legal community.

Please learn a bit more about each professor below. When you see these professors on campus, you are encouraged to offer your thanks and congratulations. Our community is truly built on the commitment they’ve shown to building great lawyers out of law students.

Kari Dalton

Favorite thing about teaching at AJMLS? I enjoy watching my students grow.
Favorite thing to do on the weekend/in Atlanta? To watch my kids play sports.
Best piece of advice to aspiring attorneys? Always practice the craft of writing. “When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into it.”





Browning Jeffries

What brought you to teaching at AJMLS? I had always thought that I would love teaching, but I did not know if teaching at a law school would be the right fit. When I found out about the opportunity at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, I did some research on the school. I was drawn to the law school’s mission and its focus on preparing practice-ready lawyers. When I graduated from law school, I felt anything but “practice ready,” so I was really excited to be a part of an institution where that was an important goal.
Favorite AJMLS memory? There are certainly too many to recount.
What’s something your students wouldn’t know about you? When I was a kid, I tried out to be in one of the RoboCop movies. In the audition, you had to cry on command, which I learned is not a strength of mine. I didn’t get the part and thus ended my acting career.
Favorite thing to do on the weekend/in Atlanta? I love running, walking, or biking on the Beltline.
Best piece of advice to aspiring attorneys?  There is a quote that I believe is from Thomas Edison that I think is very applicable to young lawyers: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”


Michael Lynch

What brought you to teaching at AJMLS? I had taught at other schools but always wanted to return to Atlanta.
Favorite AJMLS memory? Lunches with John Ryan, John Thames, and Prof. D’Agostino at Rolling Bones.
What’s something your students wouldn’t know about you? When I graduated from law school I bought a new Volkswagen Beetle. A year later I sold it and bought a one year old Porsche. Since then I have never bought a new car. (the Porsche cost $3,000.)
Favorite thing to do on the weekend/in Atlanta? Listen to music played live.
Best piece of advice to aspiring attorneys? Do 3,000 practice multiple choice questions before the bar exam.
Final thought? Read Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society.


Lance McMillian

What brought you to teaching at AJMLS? Former Atlanta’s John Marshall Dean, Richardson Lynn.
Favorite AJMLS memory? When I awoke one morning to learn that Judge Richard Posner had cited one of my law review articles.
What’s something your students wouldn’t know about you? I’ve written two screenplays that are now in, umm, “pre-production.”
Favorite thing to do on the weekend/in Atlanta? Getting out of the city.
Final thought? “Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” — Winston Churchill



Michael Mears

What brought you to teaching at AJMLS? Former Atlanta’s John Marshall Dean, Richardson Lynn, asked me to apply after he learned of my retirement as Director of the State of Georgia Public Defender Standards Council.
Favorite AJMLS memory? Every day that I am a member of this great faculty.
What’s something your students wouldn’t know about you? I participated in the semi-finals of the Little League World Series as a member of the Little League All Star Team from Caruthersville, Missouri.
Favorite thing to do on the weekend/in Atlanta? Going out to dinner at a new restaurant with my wife, Coile Estes.
Best piece of advice to aspiring attorneys? Guard your integrity as if it belongs in Fort Knox. Once you lose your integrity as a lawyer, you have lost all that there is to lose.
Final thought? As lawyers, I would like for everyone to remember this quote – “Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”


Jonathan Rapping

What brought you to teaching at AJMLS? In my work with criminal justice reform nationally I came to appreciate that our legal system leaves far too many people without a lawyer who is dedicated to giving them access to justice. As a law professor I have the opportunity to inspire future lawyers to help close this justice gap. I believe the diversity in our students’ backgrounds and experiences make them well suited to understand the challenges that face communities in need and to therefore help address them.
Favorite AJMLS memory? Graduation of the Inaugural Honors Program in Criminal Justice Class. I had worked with that group intensively for three years.
What’s something your students wouldn’t know about you? I worked for the Federal reserve Board after college and got a Masters in Public Affairs with an Economics concentration before committing to law school.
Favorite thing to do on the weekend/in Atlanta? Watch my children play any number of sports around town.
Best piece of advice to aspiring attorneys? Find your passion and pursue a career in the law that allows you to act on it. One of my favorite quotes is “every day you write your epitaph.” Do not waste a day doing something you are not passionate about!


The AJMLS community would also like to honor Professor D’Agostino (23 years), Professor Van Detta (18 years), Professor Burch (14 years), Professor de Haven (14 years), Professor Apolinsky (13 years), Dean Harrison-Mercer (13 years), Professor Tripp (12 years), and Professor Jaffe (11 years). Professors, our sincerest thank you for the wisdom you’ve shared with the AJMLS community throughout your years on our faculty. We can’t wait to celebrate your next milestones together!

AJMLS Participates in 2017 RED Flag Football Tournament

On Saturday, November 4th, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) will be participating in the RED (Rehabilitation Enables Dreams) Flag Football Tournament. The event will take place at Kennesaw State University’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. This year’s team includes AJMLS alumni and our Director of Admissions, Rebecca Milter. A video highlighting the 2016 tournament can be located here.
AJMLS alumnus, David Lee Windecher, founded RED Inc. in March of 2015. Windecher is a criminal defense attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia and Florida. Prior to being sworn into the Georgia and Florida Bar, Windecher was an impoverished minority who was arrested 13 times and spent over 7-months incarcerated. He dropped out of high school and joined a criminal street gang in an attempt to overcome a poverty stricken life. Windecher began his path to rehabilitation when he received his GED in March of 1998 and took his first academic step toward becoming a dual-licensed practitioner. Windecher understands the empowering effects of obtaining an education in order to facilitate upward social mobility. The team at RED engineers rehabilitation programs for pre and post adjudication first-time, nonviolent, youthful offenders. RED rehabilitative programs enhance the employment potential of individuals with a criminal record while emphasizing the safekeeping of our communities. RED’s mission is to increase literacy, reduce poverty and stop recidivism amongst America’s youthful offenders. To accomplish this mission, RED provides courthouses with research driven rehabilitative programs which augment an individual’s ability to remain out of the criminal justice system.*

To learn even more about this worthwhile cause you are encouraged to check out the website and Facebook event page. Also, please consider donating to our AJMLS team. Best of luck on Saturday!

*Taken from the RED Flag Football website.

AJMLS Professors Participate in 24th Annual U.S. Supreme Court Update

On Thursday, October 19, 2017, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School’s Professor Kathleen Burch served as the Program Chair for the 24th Annual United States Supreme Court Update seminar held at the State Bar of Georgia. She gave the welcome and program overview and served as the presiding moderator.

Additionally, Professors Judith Barger and Michael Mears were also presenters at the seminar. Professor Barger participated in the presentation, Short A Justice: The Supreme Court’s Per Curiam Decisions. The program covered a wide range of topics and centered on the Court’s issuance of several important per curiam decisions ranging from the Muslim ban, to the rights of same-sex parents, to law enforcement liability in cross-border shootings, to standards for juvenile’s sentenced to death or life without parole. While, Professor Mears participated in and served as the moderator for the Criminal law Update which was a survey of the criminal law cases decided by the Court last term. He also spoke regarding per curium supreme court criminal case opinions.

Thank you for your participation in this great seminar and your continued contributions to the legal community in Georgia, Professors. The program, which includes 6 CLE hours, including 1 Trial Practice hour, is available via web stream to those who weren’t able to attend in person. Please use this link to access and register.

AJMLS Sends Two Student Rapporteurs to Major International Arbitration Conference

For the second consecutive year, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) has been invited to send well-accomplished students from Professor Van Detta’s summer Online International Business Transactions course to a major international arbitration conference in Atlanta. The conference, the 6th Annual Conference – International Business Disputes in an Era of Receding Globalism, is hosted by AtlAS, the Atlanta International Arbitration Society. The conference will take place on October 22nd and 23rd at the OMNI Atlanta Hotel. At the conference, the students will act as rapporteurs, whose job it is to take detailed notes of each panel session, write up a professional summary of that session, and get that summary ready for publication.

Typically, schools send only one student rapporteur, but AJMLS was privileged to send three in 2016, Sadia Ali, Michael Wynter, and Sharon Payne (AJMLS ’16). This year AJMLS has been invited to send two student rapporteurs, Ivrol Hines and Hassan Kouyate, both of whom excelled in Professor Van Detta’s Contracts I and II and Online International Business Transactions course. AtlAS seeks student rapporteurs that have both an interest in global business and arbitration and good comprehension and writing ability. The conference presents a unique and valuable opportunity for accomplished AJMLS students to meet global arbitration practitioners. Joyce Klemmer, Esq., at Partner at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP, is a member of the Board of AtlAS which organizes the conference, advises that this presents “a valuable opportunity for students, a productive tie between AtlAS and the law schools, and results in a useful set of materials for lawyer and academics around the world who are interested in international commercial arbitration, whether they attended the conference or not.”

Many congratulations to Professor Van Detta, Ivrol, and Hassan. We wish our student rapporteurs our best at the upcoming conference and we thank Professor Van Detta for his continued commitment to the AJMLS students and community.

AJMLS Does Great Work at Stand Down Court

On Saturday, September 30, 2017 a dedicated group of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School students alumnae and the staff of our Office of Experiential Learning, in collaboration with the Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) division of the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Atlanta, GA participated in the Annual Stand Down Court held at Fort McPherson Army Base. The Stand Down Court was created by Judge Monica Ewing to assist homeless veterans who have outstanding warrants and misdemeanor charges. Homeless veterans face barriers to resolving these legal issues due to unemployment, poverty, and untreated mental health and substance abuse issues. These barriers lead to chronic homelessness and incarceration.

AJMLS students, under the supervision of AJMLS alumnae attorneys, interviewed and presented the Veterans’ cases before the presiding judge at the Stand Down Court. The judge, the students, and the attorneys discussed treatment and legal recommendations for the veterans. The judge then made a decision about the treatment and legal recommendations and issued a court order. If the matter was not in the judge’s jurisdiction, the judge sent an advocacy letter and court order to the appropriate jurisdiction and judge.

The 12 AJMLS students, alumnae, and Office of Experiential Learning staff who participated in the Stand Down Court worked diligently from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and served approximately 40 homeless veterans. The need is great and unfortunately all veterans were not able to be served due to the time restrictions. However, the students were thrilled to provide these pro bono services to our men and women in uniform as this is such a worthy cause. 

Lisanne Edelman, Class of 2017

The Criminal Justice Honors Program allowed me to follow my passion while being taught by faculty that not only has decades of experience in the field, but also helped me thrive and reach my goals. I graduated from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School with the utmost confidence that I can succeed, and the feeling that I will always have mentors I can turn to.

AJMLS Alumna Sworn in as a State Court Judge

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) alumna Margaret Spencer was recently sworn in as a judge in the State Court of the Clayton Judicial Circuit. The State Court is composed of five Judges, all of which are elected by the citizens of Clayton County and serve four year terms. Prior to Spencer’s judgeship, she served as the Senior Assistant Solicitor within the Clayton County Solicitor General’s Office.

Spencer spent her first few years out of college as a probation officer before enrolling at AJMLS with the goal of becoming a prosecutor following graduation. She reports that when she made the decision to begin her legal education at AJMLS, it was her 10-year plan to become a judge. Eleven years later, she was sworn in by Governor Nathan Deal to preside within the State Court. “She is looking forward to the opportunity to take the next step in her service to Clayton County and its citizens.”*

What an amazing testimony to setting goals, working hard, and following your dreams. AJMLS is so grateful that we were a part of your story and a stepping stone to this prestigious new position. Congratulations, Judge Spencer! This is a great honor following an impressive career thus far. We know you’ll continue to do admirable work from the bench!

*Taken from the Clayton

Welcome New Faculty and Staff Members!

A very warm welcome to the new members of the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) faculty and staff! Each joins the AJMLS community with a stellar background and a plethora of experience within the legal community.

Paul Wilson and B. Taylor Bartlett join the Career Development office. Debbi Cohen and Dione Duckett join the Office of Academic Achievement. Steve Teske joins the faculty as an Adjunct Professor. Finally, Mary Ellen Conner and Heather Ryfa join the faculty as Academic Professionals. This semester Professor Teske will be teaching Juvenile Law while both Professor Conner and Professor Ryfa will be teaching Legal Communication & Process.

Please join us in making each feel welcome. We can’t wait to see what great ways they enhance AJMLS!

Professor Michael Mears Named Chairperson for the Georgia Institute of Continuing Legal Education

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Professor B. Michael Mears has been named Chairperson for the Georgia Institute of Continuing Legal Education for a two year term. This is a great honor for Professor Mears as he has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for over four years and was recently elected by his fellow trustees to serve as the Chairperson of the Board.

The Georgia Institute of Continuing Legal Education is a not-for-profit educational service of of the State Bar of Georgia and is responsible for providing continuing legal education for all lawyers in the State of Georgia. The Institute is a consortium of the Bar and the Law Schools of the Universities of Georgia, Emory, Mercer, Georgia State, and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.

The Institute provides over 300 seminars, webinars, and video seminars to the members of the State Bar of Georgia each year. The Supreme Court of Georgia requires that every active member of the State Bar successfully complete at least 12 hours of legal education in order to maintain their license to practice law. The twelve trustees of the Institute of Continuing Legal Education are charged with the responsibility of developing programs and instituting policies with will provide legal education for members of the State Bar of  Georgia.

This is an exciting time for the Institute as it makes the transition from an independent organization in Athens, Georgia to become a part of the State Bar of Georgia. The new offices of the Institute are being relocated to the State Bar building in downtown Atlanta. Professor Mears stated that this new position “clearly shows that Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is very active in not only preparing new lawyers but in continuing to provide educational opportunities for lawyers after they have  passed the bar and are in practice.” We could not agree more, Professor Mears. The AJMLS community is proud of your accomplishments. We know you will wear this new responsibility well and bring great things to the Institute and the Georgia legal community.

AJMLS Alumnus Featured in Forbes

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) alumnus, Brandon E. Campbell, has been recently featured in Forbes. The article, Meet The 29-Year-Old Attorney On A Mission To Redefine Global Citizenship, was digitally published in Forbes Entrepreneurs Under 30.

The article is a worthy read that describes Campbell’s background, education, and early career that propelled him to apply and be accepted in to the Remote Year program. Remote Year brings together inspiring communities of 50-80 freelancers, entrepreneurs, and professionals for a year-long journey to work, travel, and live in 12 different cities throughout the world.* Campbell had the forward-thinking vision to turn his truly unique yearlong international journey, entitled “Extended Family,” in to an experiment that he is readily sharing with those following along on social media. The photographs and videos he is sharing depict the people and experiences he is having along the way.

Campbell self-describes this journey as one that” promotes intercultural exchange and empathy in an effort to uncover what unites us all.”* Additional information about Campbell’s journey can be found on Blavity and The Huffington Post. Congratulations on all that you have accomplished in your career thus far, Brandon, and all that you are set to accomplish in the future. We cannot wait to continue watching this journey unfold!

*From Remote Year.

*From The Huffington Post.

National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Named the Outstanding Student Organization of Spring 2017

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School proudly awarded the Spring 2017 Outstanding Student Organization of the Semester Award to National Lawyers Guild (NLG). This award recognizes student organizations that have excelled in leadership and made positive contributions to the student experience, the law school, and the surrounding community in a given semester. Included below are some of the events that NLG sponsored this semester:

  • Legal Observer Training;
  • Landlord Tenant Training;
  • How to Start and Run a Solo Civil Rights Practice (panel discussion);
  • World Day of Social Justice;
  • Know Your Rights Immigration Training;
  • Soul Food Day;
  • Cultural Spotlight Series (co-sponsored with the Latin American Law Student Association);
  • Viewing of the Documentary “13th” (co-sponsored with the Criminal Law Society and the American Constitutional Society); and
  • Celebrating LGBTQ Pride- LIPS ATL.

Congratulations, NLG, on being chosen as the Spring 2017 Outstanding Student Organization!

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Welcomes Georgia Supreme Court Justice as 2017 Commencement Speaker

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to announce Mr. Keith Blackwell, Georgia Supreme Court Justice, as the Law School’s 2017 commencement speaker. Commencement exercises are scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. on May 20, 2017 at the Cobb Galleria Centre – Two Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, Georgia 30339.

Dean Malcolm L. Morris notes,

The Law School has the distinct pleasure of welcoming Justice Keith Blackwell as the commencement speaker for this year’s ceremony. He has served Georgia from the bench since 2010 and has had an illustrious career since his own graduation in 1999. We look forward to hearing his message to the lawyers of tomorrow.

About Mr. Keith Blackwell

Justice Blackwell was appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia in 2012. He currently serves as a liaison to the State Bar of Georgia and the Office of Bar Admissions and Board of Bar Examiners. Additionally, he serves as chair of the Commission on Interpreters, as a member of the Commission on Dispute Resolution, and as a liaison to the Strategic Planning Committee of the Judicial Council of Georgia.

Prior to being appointed to the bench at the Georgia Supreme Court, he served as a judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia. He graduated as valedictorian from Cherokee High School and summa cum laude from the University of Georgia with a degree in Political Science. He then attended the University of Georgia School of Law, where he served as senior editor of the Georgia Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif, and went on to graduate summa cum laude.

Additional 2017 AJMLS Commencement Information

Tickets are not required for entry. For information regarding parking or other ceremony or venue related topics, you may visit and/or There will be a small reception immediately following the ceremony for the graduates and their guests, faculty, staff, and volunteers.
To join the commencement conversation on Twitter and Instagram, follow the hashtag #AJMLSGrads.

AJMLS Ranks in Top 15 Law Schools by Female J.D. Enrollment

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School ranks in the top 15 law schools by female J.D. enrollment according to Enjuris. Enjuris is a collection of resources designed to assist people following an accident or injury. The website includes free downloadable guides, resource forums to ask questions, and searchable directories to find an attorney.

The article states that 2016 was the first year the number of female students surpassed male students at U.S. law schools. Within the state of Georgia, males continue to represent the majority in the entering law school classes. However, Atlanta’s John Marshall provides the exception with a higher enrollment of female law students. Our 2016 class was built with a 62.7% female population. We are very proud of this fact!

Atlanta’s John Marshall is proud of the current female students and of the alumnae that have matriculated our campus as they are both hard working law students and respected members and leaders within the legal community. Male or female, we are all John Marshall Proud.

A Tribute to Professor Willie J. Lovett, Jr.

Do Good Anyway- A Lesson from Professor Willie J. Lovett, Jr. 

March 22, 1965 – January 30, 2017

By: Judge Renata D. Turner

Judge. Professor. Mentor. Leader. Friend. These are just a few of the titles proudly worn by our beloved Professor Willie Jake Lovett, Jr. I am most honored to have called him a friend first. We worked together during our nascent years as lawyers at the City of Atlanta’s Law Department. Since that time our professional and personal paths crossed and merged eventually at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and finally at the Fulton County Juvenile Court. I can still picture his smile and bow tie as he stood in my law school office doorway. He dropped by after an event and asked what he needed to do to become an adjunct. Once he began teaching, he fell in love with it. What he loved most was mentoring students- helping them to get their footing as young lawyers and opening as many doors for them as he could. We often spoke of the talent and dedication of AJMLS students and his desire to give back, recognizing the blessings that were given to him throughout his life.

Judge Lovett was raised by his grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. He graduated from Beach High School with the highest GPA of all the high school students in Chatham County. He graduated cum laude with Distinction from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and earned his Juris Doctor from Harvard School of Law. He later earned his Master of Laws in Litigation from Emory Law School. He clerked for the Honorable Joseph W. Hatchett, former chief Judge of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, served as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Atlanta’s Law Department, and worked as an associate at Moors, Manning & Martin, LLP, Ford & Harrison, LLP, and Troutman Sanders, LLP. For ten years, he served as the Deputy County Attorney for the Fulton of County Office of the County Attorney. He then served as the Director of the Fulton County Office of Child Attorney from 2009 to 2013. He was appointed as a Presiding Judge of the Fulton County Juvenile Court in the Atlanta Judicial Circuit in May 2013. He was affectionately known to the children in his court as the “bow tie Judge.” On the bench, Judge Lovett was known for his compassion and care for the children and families appearing before him. Off the bench, he was lauded for his dedication to improving juvenile justice. As examples, he was the lead judge for the Dually Involved Youth Initiative and served as a member for the Board of Directors for the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC).

The list of Judge Lovett’s accomplishments, honors, professional positons, and positons of service is long but now finite. The impact that he left behind to the legal community and those of us who knew and loved him, however,  is infinite. Many of us question why his life ended so abruptly when he still had so much to give to a world desperate for his type of leadership. I like to believe that too much compassion and dedication to improving the world was concentrated in the man called Willie Lovett. Now it’s dispersed to those of us also striving to serve and improve the world around us. When doing such noble and often thankless work seems too hard, Judge Professor Mentor Leader Friend Willie Jake Lovett, Jr. gave us the inspiration to keep moving forward through the words of his favorite poem that he often tearfully recited:



                People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;

Do well anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;

Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;

It was never between you and them anyway.


                                                Mother Teresa


Rest in peace with your God my friend.


Judge Renata D. Turner

Thabo Sefolosha to make substantial donation to Gideon’s Promise

The Atlanta Hawks recently released a statement from player Thabo Sefolosha in which he stated his intention to make a substantial donation to Gideon’s Promise. AJMLS Professor Jonathan Rapping is the President and Founder of Gideon’s Promise. Gideon’s Promise was formed on the mission to transform the criminal justice system by building a movement of public defenders who provide equal justice for marginalized communities.* The organization provides invaluable training and mentorship to public defenders.

Mr. Sefolosha received a $4 million settlement from the New York Police Department in conjunction with a federal lawsuit the Atlanta Hawks forward filed following his April 2015 arrest. During his arrest, Mr. Sefolosha suffered a broken fibula and ligament damage and was forced to sit out the remainder of the NBA regular season — as well as the Hawks’ playoff run to the Eastern Conference finals.*

Gideon’s Promise appreciates the support from the community, including this generous donation from Mr. Sefolosha!

*Taken from the Gideon’s Promise website.

*Taken from the New York Post.

Professor Rapping Quoted in The New York Times

Professor Rapping was recently quoted in the SundayReview, an Op-Ed in The New York Times. The article, Justice Springs Eternal, explores the current state of the American prison system. In recent years the prison population numbers have been on the decline. The article examines how that decline may be affected by President Trump and a new climate in Washington.

The article’s solution to continuing on the “decarceration” movement is activism on the part of those involved and impassioned by prison reform. In the article, Professor Rapping is quoted stating, “Eighty percent of the people charged with crimes in this country can’t afford a defense attorney. . . Until we invest in public defenders, our system cannot and will not change.”

Professor Rapping is a 2014 MacArthur Genius Fellow. At AJMLS, he teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, advanced criminal procedure, and criminal justice lawyering. Prior to joining the faculty at AJMLS,  Professor Rapping served as the Training Chief for the Orleans Public Defender and in the Public Defenders offices of Georgia and Washington, D.C., developing and implementing public defender training programs, and handling a caseload of serious felonies. Professor Rapping currently directs Gideon’s Promise. Gideon’s Promise is built on a mission to transform the criminal justice system by building a movement of public defenders who provide equal justice for marginalized communities.*

Thank you for your continued contributions to both AJMLS and the legal community, Professor Rapping.

*Taken from Gideon’s Promise.

AJMLS Professor, Michael Mears, Quoted in April’s Atlanta Magazine

AJMLS Associate Professor, Michael Mears, was recently quoted several times in the April edition of Atlanta Magazine. The article, Why did Georgia execute more prisoners in 2016 than any other state?, centered on the nine convicted murderers put to death in Georgia in 2016, more than any other state. This is the highest number of executions in Georgia in a calendar year since 1957.*

Professor Mears has been on the faculty at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (“AJMLS”) since 2007. He teaches evidence, advanced evidence, criminal law, criminal procedure, and criminal law ethics. In 2003 Professor Mears was selected to be the founding Director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council after serving for over ten years as the Director of the Multi-County County Public Defender Office, a state-wide death penalty public defender service funded by the State of Georgia. Professor Mears’ background makes him uniquely qualified to comment on the issue at hand in the Atlanta Magazine article.

The article is a worthy read and can be found here. Thank you for your continued contributions to the legal community, Professor Mears. We appreciate all of your efforts!

*Taken from Atlanta Magazine.

AJMLS Alumna, Holly Waltman, Accepts AIOCLA 2017 10 Best Attorney Award

The American Institute of Legal Counsel (“AIOCLA”) recently named 2012 AJMLS alumna, Holly Waltman, with the prestigious 10 Best Attorney Award. AIOCLA is an impartial third-party attorney rating organization comprised of 13 divisions. AIOCLA recognizes excellence of fellow practitioners in the field.*

During law school, Ms. Waltman earned internships practicing both criminal defense and prosecution. At graduation, she was recognized with The Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears award for highest overall pro bono hours. After graduation, Ms. Waltman worked as a public defender in the State Court of Henry County. She is a graduate of The Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Attorney’s-Bill Daniels Trial Advocacy Program, where she was trained by 25 of the nations top trial attorneys. Currently, she is a Partner at The Law Ladies, an Atlanta based firm specializing in criminal defense and personal injury.

Ms. Waltman will be serving as the guest speaker for the Alpha Phi Sigma induction ceremony at Kennesaw State University on Friday, April 14th at 6:00 p.m. Members of Alpha Phi Sigma at Kennesaw State University are at the top of their class in criminal justice.

Congratulations on your accomplishments, Holly! We can’t wait to see where your success takes you from here.

*Taken from the AIOCLA website.

AJMLS Alumnus Elected to Spalding County State Court

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (“AJMLS”) graduate and 2001 alumnus, Honorable Josh W. Thacker, was elected last June to serve as a State Court Judge in Spalding County, Georgia. He assumed office on January 1, 2017. Judge Thacker credits an externship that he held in the Spalding County District Attorney’s office, while he was a student at Atlanta’s John Marshall, as launching his career. Following graduation from AJMLS, he served as an Assistant District Attorney before transitioning to practicing criminal defense and ultimately to serving as a State Court Judge today. He tried hundreds of cases before he took office at the beginning of this year.

Only a few shorts weeks in to his tenure on the bench, he ruled the social media sharing platform, Snapchat, immune from distracted driver claims. An attorney for Snapchat told The Associated Press in an emailed statement that the “the judge’s ruling in this case is precedent setting for the entire mobile app and product industry.”*

Many congratulations on your accomplishments thus far, Judge Thacker! We will continue to enjoy watching your career successes.

*Taken from the Daily Report.

CLEO and AJMLS recently presented Road to Law School, a prelaw seminar

In conjunction with The Council on Legal Education Opportunity (“CLEO”), Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (“AJMLS”) recently presented Road to Law School, a prelaw seminar. CLEO is a national organization that was founded in 1968 to expand opportunities for minority and low-income students to attend law school.* The Road To Law School seminar aims to provide Freshmen an overview of the key components of the law school application process.*

The event featured a variety of seminars aimed to assist those in attendance with preparing for law school. Seminar topics included Practical Law: Practicing Law in the “Real World;” a Mock Law Class; How to Get the Most Out of Your Undergraduate Experience; a Mock Admissions Committee; a Reading/Writing Workshop; and an Introduction to Logical Reasoning & Critical Thinking. Attendees were also invited to have lunch with CLEO Alumni, Associates & Fellows. Additionally, the event boasted presenters with impressive legal backgrounds and careers. The event was meant to inspire those with goals of attending law school while also providing tangible assistance with navigating the path to acceptance and success.

AJMLS was thrilled to partner with CLEO to make this event a success. Our hope is that the eager legal minds in attendance continue on the path that leads them to law school. For more information on CLEO’s mission and future events please click here.

*From the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, Inc. website.

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AJMLS Alumna, Sheronn Harris, Co-Authors Bill

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) alumna and Georgia Women’s Policy Institute Fellow, Sheronn Harris, recently co-authored a bill with a local judge and fellow member of the legal community. Ms. Harris is a Georgia attorney and the owner of The Harris Firm, P.C. The Georgia Women’s Policy Institute is the signature advocacy program of the YWCA of Greater Atlanta.

Harris co-authored the bill last December. Protocol dictates that proposed bills go through the General Assembly attorneys office to rewrite in their format and vet for constitutionality. Two somewhat similar versions of the bill co-written by Harris emerged in the Georgia House and Georgia Senate. Additionally, Harris was able to testify before the Georgia Senate Finance Committee on one of the versions of the tax reform bill. Ms. Harris wrote an article for Georgia Work Credit that does a great job explaining the purpose of the proposed tax reform. You are encouraged to read the article here.

AJMLS is proud of your accomplishments, Sheronn! We look forward to celebrating your future successes.

AJMLS Student Contributed to Article Published in the Georgia Bar Journal

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (“AJMLS”) 3L student, Kendra Livingston, recently contributed to the writing of an article that was published in the December 2016 Georgia Bar Journal. An electronic copy of the article, entitled No Vacation: Top Criminal Defense Attorneys Travel to Tbilisi, can be found here and by clicking to page 32. A special thanks to Kendra can be found on page 35.

The article is a worthy read about eight Georgia lawyers who recently traveled to Tbilisi, which is the capital of the country of Georgia. In January 2017, the Republic of Georgia granted all criminal defendants the right to a jury trial. The resulting dilemma was that local lawyers and their clients were mostly uneducated in the art of trial advocacy. The purpose of the trip was to educate and empower local defense attorneys. More trips are planned in the future to continue the training process.

I encourage the AJMLS community to read this article. Congratulations, Kendra! This is a wonderful accomplishment.

AJMLS and SLS Welcome New Member to the Board of Directors

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and Savannah Law School are pleased to announce the appointment of Patrise M. Perkins-Hooker, the County Attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, to the Board of Directors.

In her capacity as County Attorney, she is responsible for all of the civil legal needs of one of the largest counties in Georgia. She supervises a staff of over 30 professionals and provides legal advice to seven commissioners and over 40 departments. Prior to joining Fulton County, she served as the Vice President and General Counsel for the Atlanta BeltLine Inc. for six years.

She is a former partner with the law firm of Hollowell, Foster & Gepp, PC, where she was in charge of the Commercial Real Estate Group. She also owned her own law firm for over 10 years.

Perkins-Hooker is a leader in her profession and very actively engaged in the Atlanta community. She was the 52nd President of the State Bar of Georgia and the first person of color elected to this position. She has previously served on the Board of Governors and as a member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar. She has been elected Secretary (2011-12), Treasurer (2012-13) and President-Elect (2013-14). She is also a past chair of the State Bar’s Real Property Law Section, a past parliamentarian of the Atlanta Planning and Advisory Board, and the founding chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit-Q. Additionally, she is a past chair of Hosea Feed the Hungry’s Board of Directors.

Perkins-Hooker is an honors graduate of Georgia Tech and received her graduate degrees from Emory University Law and Business Schools. She was admitted to the Bar in 1984. She has received numerous honors for her service to the legal profession and the community, including being inducted into the Gate City Bar Association’s Hall of Fame, being presented the Leah Ward Sears Service to the Profession Award by the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, being presented an Honorary degree from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, and being presented the Eleonoré Raoul Greene Trailblazer Award from Emory University Law School. She has also received the Phoenix Award from the Mayor of Atlanta. This is the highest honor bestowed on citizens in Atlanta for their outstanding contributions.

She is happily married to Douglas R. Hooker. They have two children and eight grandchildren.

Perkins-Hooker joins the following members of the Board of Directors:

Richard B. Herzog, Jr., Chairman

Partner, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP

Dean Frank T. Read, Vice Chairman

President & Dean Emeritus, South Texas College of Law

Dr. Michael C. Markovitz, Ph.D., Treasurer

Honorable Carol W. Hunstein

Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia

Adam Malone,

Partner, Malone Law

Kevin Ross

President, Kevin Ross Public Affairs Group LLC

Dean James P. White

Consultant Emeritus

Section of Legal Education & Admission to the Bar

American Bar Association

AJMLS ranked as one of the Best Online Law Schools by College Choice

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School was recently ranked as one of the Best Online Law Schools by College Choice. For a full list of the rankings please click here.

John Marshall Online, Inc., (JMO) was founded to provide a quality Master of Laws in Employment Law degree program and other areas of professional education offered through distance education. Please visit John Marshall Online to learn more about the programs offered and how to apply. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, Professor Jace Gatewood.

Professor Tripp Cited in Groundbreaking New Regulation

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published a historic new regulation that prohibits nursing homes receiving federal funds from using pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements. Pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements are usually presented to residents upon admission to the nursing home and residents are often unaware that by signing them they are giving up their rights to go to court. These agreements ban all claims by residents from being litigated in courts, including claims involving elder abuse, sexual harassment and wrongful death, among other things. The decision to ban these agreements is the first time a federal agency has ever issued a rule providing such sweeping protection of the rights of injured people to access the public courts. 

AJMLS Professor Lisa Tripp is a leading scholar in this area and CMS cited two of Professor Tripp’s articles in support of this pioneering regulation. She was also quoted in the preamble: “Tripp notes that ‘residents of nursing homes are frail and elderly people who are completely dependent on the facility and its employees for their safety and health. Thus, many residents and their families would not oppose the arbitration provision because they are fearful of antagonizing the facility.’” If you see Professor Tripp around campus, be sure to congratulate her on her accomplishment and thank her for her work on behalf of nursing home residents across the country.

Alpa Amin Selected as Top 40 Under 40

Atlanta’s John Marshall Alumnus, Alpa Amin, was recently named one of Georgia Trend’s 40 Under 40.The 2016 Georgia Trend 40 Under 40 represent a plethora of professions. The 40 selected were chosen from nominations made by readers of Georgia Trend throughout the state and the final selections were made by the editorial staff.

Ms. Amin is the Lead Attorney for the Victims of Violence Project at the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network. In her role of Lead Attorney, Ms. Amin recruits, trains and mentors volunteer attorneys from the Atlanta legal community and provides direct representation to immigrant victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault who need assistance with filing T-visas, U-visas, and VAWA Self-Petitions/Battered Spouse Waivers. She works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement and is a frequent guest speaker on issues surrounding vulnerable immigrant communities.

This is quite an impressive accomplishment, Alpa, but so well deserved. Thank you for all that you do for our community.

AJMLS Hosts Atlanta Citizen Review Board

On September 8, 2016 Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School hosted the Atlanta Citizen Review Board (“ACRB”) for a Community Board Meeting in the Blackburn Conference Center. This Community Board Meeting provided an opportunity for citizens of Atlanta to listen to a Report from the Executive Director of the ACRB, Mr. Lee Reid II, and hear updates on various complaints and ongoing investigations within the community.

The Atlanta Citizens Review Board was established by ordinance as an independent agency in 2007 (and amended with subpoena power in May 2010) to ensure that city departments of Atlanta that are directly responsible for public safety, such as the Atlanta Police Department (APD) and the Department of Corrections, have the proper support of government and its various agencies. The ACRB is designed to provide oversight of misconduct accusations against sworn members of the police and corrections departments in the City of Atlanta.

The ACRB provides an independent and credible forum for complaints and accusations to be assessed. It is also designed to help prevent future incidents of police or corrections misconduct and abuses of civil rights. For more information on the Atlanta’s Citizen Review Board and its programs, please click here.


SALT Awards 2016 Junior Faculty Teaching Award to Professor Harpalani

Savannah Law School Professor Harpalani has been awarded the esteemed 2016 Junior Faculty Teaching Award by the Society of American Law Teachers (‘SALT’). The award recognizes an outstanding and emerging law professor who demonstrates a commitment to justice, equality and academic excellence. Professor Harpalani was selected for the award among a field of highly deserving nominees.

Professor Harpalani is truly a quality professor who values a commitment to social justice, diversity, and access in his teaching, scholarship and service. He is very much deserving of this national accolade.

The award will be given at the SALT Annual Members Meeting at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago on September 30th. When you see Professor Harpalani on campus, be sure to pass along your congratulations. This is a prestigious award and Professor Harpalani is a wonderful representation of the quality of education at Savannah Law School.

SBA Student Representative Elections Results

The results of the SBA Student Representative Elections are in!

Please see below the list of 2016-2017 SBA Student Representatives:

1L Full-time Section A Representatives: Dwight Harris and Mikah Fuller
1L Full-time Section B Representatives: Samantha Beskin and Randy Williams
1L Criminal Justice Honors Representative: Jasmine Davis
1L Part-time Student Representatives: Bianca Hancock and Tasha Lumpkin
2L Full-time Student Representatives: Kamaria Womack and John Brumfield
2L Criminal Justice Honors Representative: Calvana Cedant
2L Part-time Student Representatives: Alexa Callaway and Randall Mixon
3L Full-time Student Representatives: Emmanuela Saint-Jean and Sharon Payne
3L Part-time Student Representative: Megan McCulloch
4L Part-time Student Representative: Alicia Thompson

Please congratulate your new student representatives! Thank you to all the candidates and students who participated in the SBA electoral process!

Remember, continue to Be Present. Be Intentional. Be Impactful.

Professor Jaffe Quoted in The Wrap

Robert Sepúlveda Jr. is Logo TV’s lead in the network’s first same-sex dating show, Finding Prince Charming. He is threatening to sue online cyberbullies for “targeted harassment, shaming and bullying.” Sepúlveda Jr. turned to Instagram to fire back at those he feels have bullied him and stated “if you come for me, we will come for you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.” This transpired following revelations that Sepúlveda Jr. worked as a male prostitute while in college. Members and activists within the gay community were outraged to learn of Sepúlveda Jr.’s past.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Associate Professor Elizabeth Jaffe was quoted in the article. “It’s unclear who he intends to sue,” Jaffe said. “But I think it would be difficult for him to make that case. If people are saying ugly things about him, it doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of cyberbullying.” In our modern social media world, anti-bullying laws that have an electronic harassment provision are currently an area of evolution within the law. Thank you Professor Jaffe for your comments on such a relevant legal discussion.

#StayMadAbby: The Politics, Promise and Perplexity of Fisher II

Professor of Law Tanya Washington will address students at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School during the AJMLS Chapter of the American Constitution Society’s Constitution Week. The event, #StayMadAbby: The Politics, Promise and Perplexity of Fisher II, promises to be a thought-provoking discussion on the status of affirmative action and equal protection under the law.

September 17, 2016 marks a pivotal day in our nation’s history: the 229th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. The ACS John Marshall Law Student Chapter is recognizing this event through a week of activities leading up to September 17, 2016. The event to be held on September 15th centers on the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee and affirmative action programs.  The hashtag, #staymadabby, created by social media followers as a response to the recent Fisher II case, will be addressed by Professor Washington at the event.

Professor Washington earned her J.D. from The University of Maryland School of Law and her LL.M. from Harvard Law School. Professor Washington has been teaching Civil Procedure I and II, Family Law, Education Law and Race and Law at Georgia State University College of Law for the past thirteen years. Her research and scholarship focus on issues related to educational equity and issues arising at the intersection of domestic relations, race and children’s constitutional rights. Additionally, her efforts to expand and deepen the pipeline of students entering law school earned her recognition in 2013 as one of 50 minority law professors under 50 making an impact in legal education.

The event will take place on Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 5:15 p.m. in Room 304. All viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged to attend and dinner will be provided. For more information on the American Constitution Society, please visit and by searching Facebook under the name AJMLS ACS Chapter.

Georgia Bar Celebrates 100 Years of Women in the Profession

Alumna and 2011 AJMLS graduate Virginia (Ginger) Arnold recently had the honor of taking part in a panel discussion during the State of Georgia YLD Women in the Profession Committee’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s admission in to the practice of law. The event took place at the State Bar Headquarters earlier this month.

Speaking on the panel with Arnold was Senior Judge Dorothy Beasley. Judge Beasley was the first woman judge in Fulton County and the first woman on the state Court of Appeals. Since her retirement, she has remained active in the legal community. She challenged the women practitioners in our state to seek leadership roles in the profession. Currently more than half of law students are female and that number is rising.

When asked about her participation in the panel, Arnold stated that “it was an honor to be on this panel with esteemed attorneys and judges.” You can read more about the celebration here. Thank you for your participation, Ginger!

Alumna Janie Parks Varnell Learned How to Practice Law During her Time at AJMLS

Alumna and 2012 graduate Janie Parks Varnell currently practices as a criminal defense attorney with the firm Davis & Hoss in Chattanooga, TN. Varnell represents individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court. Notably, Varnell was recently featured in an Editorial in the Hamilton County Herald. The article focused on Varnell’s belief that her education taught her how to practice law.
While a student, Varnell took advantage of all that AJMLS had to offer and made the most of her legal education. She emphasizes that she did not just learn about the law, but more importantly she learned how to practice it. In particular, Varnell reported that Professor Mears took her under his wing during her time at AJMLS and spent a substantial amount of time explaining the ins and outs of practicing law to her. The Editorial reports that Varnell will always be indebted to Professor Mears because he took the time to explain to her how to be a lawyer.
Varnell is a member of the 2015 graduating class of Leadership Chattanooga. More information can be found on Varnell by visiting the Davis & Hoss website here. Best of luck to Janie on her future endeavors and congratulations on her numerous post-graduate accomplishments thus far.

Alumnus Adam Malone Receives Honors

Atlanta’s John Marshall alumnus and 2000 class valedictorian, Adam Malone, was recently made a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. The International Academy of Trial Lawyers is a group of truly elite trial lawyers representing both sides of the Bar. The Academy limits fellowship to only 500 active trial lawyers under the age of 70. Malone’s admission to such a small group of super lawyers is an immense honor and a testament to his illustrious career thus far.

Malone was also recently awarded the 2016 Mel Award from the Melvin M. Belli Society. The Melvin M. Belli Society was founded in 1981 based on the idea that within the American Trial Lawyers Association there should be a group of lawyers who had distinguished themselves as trial lawyers and who were dedicated to the principles of education on an international basis. The Mel Award is an award given in the spirit of Mel Belli to an attorney who is innovative and who has made a significant contribution to the practice of trial law in America. To be the 2016 recipient is an esteemed honor.

Congratulations, Adam!

Professor Rapping Discusses Current State of the Criminal Defense System

Atlanta’s John Marshall’s Professor Jonathan Rapping was recently asked to participate in a discussion on the podcast Criminal (In)Justice with David Harris. The subject of the podcast was the current state of our criminal defense system, specifically indigent defendants requiring state-provided assistance of counsel.

Professor Rapping was asked to participate because of both his impressive resume and his extensive skill set in this domain.  The discussion centered on the current underfunding for public defenders. Due to the underfunding and general lack of necessary resources, public defenders are handling record high caseloads. Because of the heavy caseloads, public defenders are unable to provide each and every defendant with adequate representation. During the podcast, Professor Rapping explains the purpose behind Gideon’s Promise and his mission to remedy the system through strengthening public defenders.

You are highly encouraged to listen to the podcast here. The discussion is thought provoking and highly relevant. Thank you, Professor, for your continued work in this arena.

AJMLS Alumna Named Co-Editor of Georgia YLD Newsletter

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School alumna and 2011 graduate, Heather Riggs, was recently named Co-Editor of The YLD Review. The YLD is the State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division’s newsletter.

Riggs is the owner of MindMeld Marketing in Atlanta. MindMeld Marketing concentrates on providing assistance to clients with website content, blogging and social media. Riggs’ client base focuses on creating digital marketing plans for lawyers and law firms. Riggs started MindMeld Marketing following starting her own successful adoption law practice.

Riggs has previously served in many positions before within the American Bar Association YLD and the Georgia YLD. She is also a member of the YLD Leadership Academy Class of 2015. Congratulations, Heather!

Professor Rapping Selected to Participate in Town Hall by Russell Simmons

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Professor Jonathan Rapping was recently selected by Russell Simmons and his media company, All Things Def, and participated in a town hall at the Montalban Theater in Los Angeles. Along with our own Professor Rapping, the panel featured Nick Cannon; National Bar Association President Benjamin Crump, who represented the family of Trayvon Martin; National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives President Gregory Thomas; and New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. The event was moderated by former MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry.

The town hall was arranged for the parties to come together for a public discussion about recent civilian deaths and the need for revised law enforcement and policies. The event will be the first in a series of public conversations about criminal justice reform.

Professor Rapping was chosen to participate because he is the founder of Gideon’s Promise, an organization that trains public defenders. Thank you for representing AJMLS and for your insight in such a relevant conversation, Professor.

AJMLS Alumnus Successfully Argues in Front of Supreme Court of Georgia

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School alumnus and 2008 graduate, David Willingham, successfully argued a reversal in front of the Supreme Court of Georgia. The Georgia Supreme Court recently issued its opinion in Zilke v. Georgia on June 20, 2016.

Willingham’s client, Bajrodin Zilke, was charged with two counts of driving under the influence and several traffic violations by a POST-certified police officer employed by Kennesaw State University. Notably, the traffic stop did not occur on or near KSU property. Willingham moved to suppress evidence of a breath test on the grounds that the KSU police officer lacked jurisdiction to arrest his client. The trial court granted the motion. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision.

The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision and granted Willingham’s Motion to Suppress.  This effectively reversed the Georgia Supreme Court’s 1984 decision in Glazner v. State and all subsequent rulings based on Glazner.

This was a huge victory for Willingham and his client. Congratulations, David!

AJMLS Alumnus Sworn in as Superior Court Judge

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School alumnus and 2008 graduate, Dustin Hightower, was recently sworn in to serve as a superior court judge in the Coweta Judicial Circuit. Hightower’s current seat was made vacant when Judge A. Quillian Baldwin, Jr. retired from the court earlier this year. On May 26, 2016, Governor Nathan Deal administered Hightower’s oath.

Hightower formerly represented the 68th district in the Georgia House of Representatives. He also served as a named partner at the firm Miller and Hightower, Attorneys at Law.

Congratulations, Dustin! We know you will continue to represent AJMLS well from the bench.