May 2021 Employee of the Month, Scot Goins

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to continue its Employee of the Month Program. AJMLS appreciates the efforts of its employees who strive to achieve goals and fulfill the vision of Atlanta’s John Marshall. Outstanding employees deserve to be recognized both as a reward for exceptional performance and as a model to others. The program seeks to recognize hard work and achievement in the workplace and is a peer-to-peer recognition program.

The May 2021 Employee of the Month recipient is Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success.

Prior to joining Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in September 2020, Scot worked as a Regional Director for Kaplan Bar Review, but his experience ranges from working at a big New York law firm, to teaching business law, and includes building several successful startups from the ground up. He started his career at AJMLS as the Director of the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success, where he focuses on student service, utilizing data analytics for programming outcomes, and most importantly, the success of students. He is of the firm belief that the bar exam, like law school, should be a stepping stone on the path to being an impactful attorney, and he strives daily to help students realize their dreams and potential. Scot is also the author of his department’s blog, Law School Brief.

Originally from Virginia, Scot enjoys mountain biking, hiking with his dog Lucy, and cheering for his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Georgia Bulldogs. He also enjoys spending time with his niece and nephew, Halona and Chayton, as well as traveling the world and exploring different cultures.

Scot joined the AJMLS family during the pandemic and has embraced his new position and continues to jump into more involvement, above and beyond what he is required. Scot  consistently demonstrates a high degree of excellence, professionalism, and integrity in the performance of his duties and routinely shows a willingness to extend himself to help others at AJMLS. We are very fortunate to have Scot on our team!

Congratulations to Our 2021 Graduates and Award Recipients

The Law School is incredibly proud of its graduates. Your perseverance and resilience during this challenging time is a testament to your professionalism and work ethic. We look forward to following your careers and championing all your future successes.

Valedictorians

This award is given to the valedictorian from each of the school’s divisions (full-time and part-time).

Miriam Perfecto, part-time program

Undergraduate institution:

University of West Georgia

Favorite AJMLS memory:

My top favorite memories were when I was chosen as Editor-in-Chief of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law Journal for the 2020-2021 year and when I found out I was Valedictorian.

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

My dream is to start my own law practice one day.

Morgan Eipper, full-time program

Undergraduate institution:

University at Buffalo 

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Practicing for the 2020 Georgia Intrastate Moot Court Competition. Although I did not get to actually compete due to COVID, I found lifelong friendships during the countless weekends we spent practicing. 

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

After the bar exam, I would like to work for an international law firm or an international corporation as a business attorney.

Outstanding Graduate Awards

This award is given annually to one graduate in each of the school’s divisions (part-time and full-time) who best demonstrates standards of competence and professionalism, a strong social conscience, high ethical standards, and a commitment to the improvement of the legal system and society, as determined by the Faculty on recommendation of the Honors and Awards Committee.

Morgan Eipper, full-time program

Undergraduate institution:

University at Buffalo 

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Practicing for the 2020 Georgia Intrastate Moot Court Competition. Although I did not get to actually compete due to COVID, I found lifelong friendships during the countless weekends we spent practicing. 

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

After the bar exam, I would like to work for an international law firm or an international corporation as a business attorney.

Tessa Martin, full-time program

Undergraduate School:

Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio

Favorite AJMLS Memory:

Getting appointed Managing Editor of Law Review and working with my fellow colleagues on Law Review. Our virtual meetings during Covid were fun and we always helped motivate and push each other. 

Plans after bar exam:

I am excited to practice in the field of family law and personal injury. My goal is to be an excellent litigator and advocate for my clients.

Ashley S. Lewis, part-time program

Undergraduate institution:

Benedict College (Columbia, SC) and University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC) for Paralegal Certificate

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Annual Thanksgiving Dinner (Specifically 2018)- This was a dinner to remember, I was able to help decorate the student lounge and students, faculty, and staff were able to drop-in for a hearty dinner. The food was delicious and the love that was spread reminded me of my very own family thanksgiving. I am happy that AJMLS is now a part of my extended family! I will never forget the joy and support the school has provided me over the past four years!

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

My future aspiration is to become a corporate finance and securities attorney. However, I want to always ensure I am giving back to the community in which I live, whether through pro bono or community service efforts. One of my favorite organizations is the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (i.e. AVLF).

Promiss Yvonne Yarber, part-time program

Undergraduate institution:

Georgia Southern University 

Favorite AJMLS Memory:

I believe that I have too many fond memories and am unable to pick just one. From attending events, to serving on the SBA Executive Board, to creating lost lasting friendships, I would not trade my experience at this school for anything in the world. It has been one of the most fulfilling time periods in my life.

Plans/ dreams after the bar exam:

After the bar exam I hope to begin a career as a closing attorney. I also hope to engage in pro bono services and one day create a scholarship fund to give back to AJMLS students.

Matthew James Repella, part-time program

Miriam Perfecto, part-time program

Undergraduate institution:

University of West Georgia

Favorite AJMLS memory:

My top favorite memories were when I was chosen as Editor-in-Chief of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law Journal for the 2020-2021 year and when I found out I was Valedictorian.

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

My dream is to start my own law practice one day.

Megan Maloney Sale, part-time program

Undergraduate institution:

University of Georgia

Favorite AJMLS memory:

I have many favorite memories, but the most special is becoming great friends with the night students. What an amazing atmosphere the school creates for those of us that are traveling through law school on the less beaten path.  

Plans after the bar exam:

After the passing the bar exam I will be joining a corporation as in-house counsel. I hope to give back to the AJMLS community as much as the AJMLS community has given to me over the past four years.  What an honor and a privilege to attend AJMLS.

Excellence In Appellate Advocacy

This award is given to the outstanding student participant on a John Marshall Law School moot court competition team.

Mandira Sethi

Undergraduate institution:

Emory University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Picking one AJMLS memory is so difficult for me, as I had so many that truly shaped me into the person I am today. The first would be in my 1L year, being cold-called in Professor Van Detta’s Contracts class, to this day, I still remember the terrifying feeling. I remember fumbling through the hypo, but in that moment things changed. That day I gained a mentor for life, what I learned from Professor Van Detta is something I will never be able to fully describe into words. It is a memory I will cherish forever.

My second would be competing in the Georgia Intrastate Moot Court Competition and becoming Chair of the Moot Court Advocacy. Moot Court is an invaluable experience to all students, it helps us perfect our oral and legal writing skills. 

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

Ten years ago, I started my path in immigration law as a paralegal with the goal of helping immigrants, like myself, come to this country and pursue their dreams. Now, as an Immigration Attorney, I hope to give back to the community.

Zachary Warfel

Undergraduate institution:

Kennesaw State University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Spending hours in the library studying just to get a C+ on a final.

Plans/dreams after the bar:

I plan to work at Wakhisi-Douglas and hopefully make a lot of money.

Excellence in Pro Bono

This award is given to those students whose pro bono hours are among the top 10% earned in the graduating class. This award is not merit-based.

Morgan Eipper

Undergraduate institution:

University at Buffalo 

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Practicing for the 2020 Georgia Intrastate Moot Court Competition. Although I did not get to actually compete due to COVID, I found lifelong friendships during the countless weekends we spent practicing. 

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

After the bar exam, I would like to work for an international law firm or an international corporation as a business attorney.

Ashley S. Lewis

Undergraduate institution:

Benedict College (Columbia, SC) and University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC) for Paralegal Certificate

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Annual Thanksgiving Dinner (Specifically 2018)- This was a dinner to remember, I was able to help decorate the student lounge and students, faculty, and staff were able to drop-in for a hearty dinner. The food was delicious and the love that was spread reminded me of my very own family thanksgiving. I am happy that AJMLS is now a part of my extended family! I will never forget the joy and support the school has provided me over the past four years!

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

My future aspiration is to become a corporate finance and securities attorney. However, I want to always ensure I am giving back to the community in which I live, whether through pro bono or community service efforts. One of my favorite organizations is the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (i.e. AVLF).

Tyler White

Stacy Williams

Georgia Association for Women Lawyers Outstanding Graduate Award

This award is given to a woman from each Georgia law school based on academic accomplishments and contributions to women’s issues.

Brittany Lenoch

Undergraduate institution:

Kennesaw State University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Earning top appellee oralist in Professor Dalton’s legal writing class and a position on moot court

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

I’ve accepted an offer to work for a small criminal defense firm that I’ve interned for since 2015. I plan to primarily practice criminal defense, but also hope to work on juvenile and family law matters. 

Edward J. Henning Award for Excellence in Dispute Resolution

This award is given to an outstanding ADR student at each of the state’s five ABA-accredited law schools. These awards are given in memory of Ed Henning, one of the “founding fathers” of mediation in Georgia.

Damilola Elizabeth Olatunde

Undergraduate Institution:

Georgia Southern University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

I have lots of wonderful memories. One memory that left an imprint on me was during my first year of law school. I was struggling and finding it hard to adjust to law school. It was my first time answering a question correctly in Professor Van Detta’s contract class. Disclaimer: It can be a little difficult to give a completely correct answer. But this event made me feel like I could make it through law school.

Plans/dreams after the bar:

Take a break, travel, look for a job and continue working on my organization for orphans in Nigeria. 

The Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears Pro Bono Award

The Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears Pro Bono Award is given to the graduate whose pro bono work has demonstrated outstanding commitment to legal services for underserved communities and their work was impactful.

Yvette Hill

Undergraduate institution:

Morgan State University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

I have several invaluable memories at AJMLS, but my favorite is working in the school’s business office as a receptionist. It afforded me the opportunity to build priceless, lifelong relationships with John Marshall staff, faculty, and students.

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

I have been working with the Clayton County Public Defender’s Office as an Assistant Public Defender under the Third Year Student Practice Act since January 2020. As a result, I have been offered (and I have accepted) a permanent position upon passing the bar. My ultimate goal is to continue working as a Criminal Defense Attorney, and to possibly become a Civil Rights Attorney.

National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Law Student Award

This award is given to a third-year law student who who best exemplifies the following characteristics:

  • Contributes to the advancement of women in society
  • Promotes issues and concerns of women in the legal profession
  • Exhibits motivation, tenacity, and enthusiasm
  • Demonstrates high academic achievement
  • Earns the respect of the faculty and administration

Kristian Postma

Undergraduate Institution:

North Georgia College & State University

Favorite AJMLS Memory:

My favorite memory from AJMLS is getting to know my professors. On one particular emotionally challenging day, Professor Baker sat with me and shared his wisdom about not losing yourself or your perspective during law school. I made it a point from that moment on to remind myself daily of my true purpose and to exercise some grace! Also, the friends I made during my law school career are INVALUABLE.

Plans/dreams after the bar:

After the bar, I will be a Staff Attorney with the State Court of Cherokee County.

Pro Bono Distinction

This distinction is given to students who have completed 75 hours or more of pro bono work during their law school career.

Yvette Hill

Undergraduate institution:

Morgan State University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

I have several invaluable memories at AJMLS, but my favorite is working in the school’s business office as a receptionist. It afforded me the opportunity to build priceless, lifelong relationships with John Marshall staff, faculty, and students.

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

I have been working with the Clayton County Public Defender’s Office as an Assistant Public Defender under the Third Year Student Practice Act since January 2020. As a result, I have been offered (and I have accepted) a permanent position upon passing the bar. My ultimate goal is to continue working as a Criminal Defense Attorney, and to possibly become a Civil Rights Attorney.

Order of Quill

The Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Order of the Quill (“Order”) is an honor society that recognizes significant academic achievement in designated required doctrinal courses (“Quill” courses). Students who achieve the required cumulative grade point average in the Quill courses will be eligible for admission into the Order. Members of the Order shall receive certificates of membership and be recognized at graduation.

Charles Carr, Scholar

Undergraduate institution:

Georgia State University

Favorite AJMLS memory:

My favorite memory at John Marshall is debating and arguing about cases in professor Rapping’s criminal justice classes. I learned a lot about criminal law and procedure, but I also learned about how the criminal justice system works and what to expect and watch out for in the courtroom.

Plans/Dreams after the bar exam:

I plan on working as a prosecutor in either the District Attorney or Solicitor General’s office. 

Morgan Eipper, Honor Scholar and Marshall of the Order

Undergraduate institution:

University at Buffalo 

Favorite AJMLS memory:

Practicing for the 2020 Georgia Intrastate Moot Court Competition. Although I did not get to actually compete due to COVID, I found lifelong friendships during the countless weekends we spent practicing. 

Plans/dreams after the bar exam:

After the bar exam, I would like to work for an international law firm or an international corporation as a business attorney.

Gianna Carolina Franceschini, Scholar

December 2020 Graduates

Yoana Maribel Banuelos

Jared Seth Claxon

Jessica Monserratt Devins

Ashley Lynn McDonald

Miracle Champale McGowan

Alexandra Mosiyachenko

Mandira Sethi

Renee Elaine Taylor

Martin A. Thomas

Ashley Alexis Winston

May 2021 Graduates

Karla Vidal Barrios

Melissa Barrett

Brenna Denia Bates

Glynneisha Jenny Bellamy

Claxton J. Boutwell, cum laude

Charles Logan Carr, magna cum laude*

Whitnie Lúchelle Carter

Justin Carth Cavanaugh

Stephen Andrew Crabtree

Don Alan Dixon, Jr.

Morgan Eipper, summa cum laude

Kiara Richelle Flantroy

Gianna Franceschini, magna cum laude

Gulliana L. Goehring, cum laude

Reginald Anthony Greene, Jr.

Daniel Y. Guo

Ashley Lindsey

Emory Lott

Adam Carson Lowney

Marie T. Martin, cum laude

Cynthia Dawn McDonald

Damilola Elizabeth Olatunde

Aristides D. Passas, cum laude

Mario Andres Pereira*

Miriam Perfecto, magna cum laude

Kristian Audrianna Postma, cum laude

Thomas Kell Randall, Jr.*

Jessica Marie Ratliff

Imani Redd

Matthew Repella, summa cum laude

Reneé S. Richardson

Megan Maloney Sale, cum laude

Martha Tewolde Habtemicael

Yvette Hill

Delesia S. Horton

Jenna Marie Hough

Don’Etrick Ja’Rod Houston

Sherin Hylan, cum laude

Catheryne Jenkins

Jessica Lea Jones*

Sarah Khan

Nicole Hejune Kim

Delenia Anita King

Jeffery Scott Knight

Brittany Shajuan Larcart

Bryson Kiara Lax*

Brittany Leigh Lenoch

Ashley S. Lewis

Cherie Nicole Sebro

Mahek Shah

Thomas William Sizemore

Suncearae Q. Spears

Mahham Syed

Heather Shannon Thornburg

Mindi Lynn Thrash, cum laude

Nicholas Brian Vowell

Zachary James Warfel

Tyler James White

Christopher Williams, cum laude

Stacy Lee Williams

Victoria Williams

Promiss Yvonne Yarber

Crystal D. Richmond Yarbrough

Vangelis Leonardo Zafiroulis

July 2021 Graduates

Bailey Ellis Farner

Williametta Garnett

David T. Harrison

Sydney Saponari

Justin Wills

*Criminal Justice Certificate Program

April 2021 Employee of the Month, Hilary Waldo

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to continue its Employee of the Month Program. AJMLS appreciates the efforts of its employees who strive to achieve goals and fulfill the vision of Atlanta’s John Marshall. Outstanding employees deserve to be recognized both as a reward for exceptional performance and as a model to others. The program seeks to recognize hard work and achievement in the workplace and is a peer-to-peer recognition program.

The April 2021 Employee of the Month recipient is Hilary Waldo, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications.

Prior to joining the Law School in February 2012, Hilary worked as an Account Executive at the Atlanta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and previously as the Marketing and Events Coordinator at Solutions Bridal. She started her career at the Law School as the Director of Meeting and Conference Services managing the Blackburn Conference Center and miscellaneous Law School events. Having both a marketing and events background, she gravitated towards more marketing-themed projects and transitioned to the Admissions team as the marketing lead in 2013.

Originally from Florida, Hilary enjoys the sunshine and cheering for her alma mater, the Florida Gators. Outside of AJMLS, she loves spending time with her husband and college sweetheart, Austin (AJMLS ’14), and her kids, Claire (4), and Calvin (2). Also in her free time, she maintains an unrequited relationship with plants and gardening, and a mutual love with cooking. She often buys orchids or other unsuspecting high maintenance plants with reckless abandon.

Hilary is an awesome member of the team. She is positive, flexible, always makes herself available, and has strong communication skills. We are very fortunate to have her on our team!

AJMLS 1L, Dr. Shannan Young, Awarded Alan Rumph Memorial Fellowship

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) 1L, Shannan Young, PharmD, MBA, was recently awarded the Alan Rumph Memorial Fellowship for her summer internship with the Georgia Department of Community Health and also the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. The fellowship is awarded annually to commemorate the life of Alan H. Rumph, an exceptional healthcare attorney who served the Georgia Bar Health Law Section and the Georgia Bar in an exemplary fashion as a trusted advisor, friend, and mentor.

Young is a part-time evening student who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from the University of West Georgia, her Masters of Business Administration in Healthcare Management from American Intercontinental University, then her Doctorate of Pharmacy from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She also served in the U.S. Army Reserves for eight years as a healthcare sergeant/combat medic. After practicing as a staff pharmacist, then surgical pharmacist in Atlanta, she opened her own pharmacy consulting group, Varxiant Consulting LLC, which she continues to lead as the Chief Pharmacist while attending Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. 

At AJMLS, Shannan is in the top 5% of her class and on the Dean’s List after her first year of study, was named an Outstanding Student of the Quarter for Fall 2020, and earned a CALI Excellence for the Future Award® for Contracts in her first semester of law school. She is also the Student Bar Association 1L Class Representative, a Diversity and Inclusion Student Committee Member, Barbri Representative, Southern Regional Black Law Student Association Social Action Director, American Bar Association Student Liaison – Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health IG, Gate City Bar Student Member, and Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys Student Member.

Shannan engaged in answering a number of questions for us to help our community get to know her and her journey better.

What led you to change careers? 

“Most of my career decisions were the result of me responding to a need or a cause that directly impacted someone I cared about, I call it my hero’s journey. My personal trek into unknown territory to retrieve something that my family or I needed. Each new adventure planted the seeds for this next adventure. Additionally, having taken all of the adventures that I have, I have often noticed that the people that make decisions are very far removed from the processes that they control. As a result I feel that it is my duty to speak up having witnessed health inequity and systemic racism not only as a minority, as a woman, as a soldier, as a patient, as a family member of a patient who was mistreated by the healthcare system, as a healthcare provider, and soon as an attorney.”

Why AJMLS? 

“AJMLS offered a flexible program that worked with my schedule as a consultant pharmacist.”

How do you balance work and law school? 

Once I figure that out, I will let you know. Honestly as hard as law school is, the demand of it is a lot like my life as a multi passionate adult outside of school. I have always had a tendency to take on a lot of things at once and oddly enough I feel like I do best when I am running around like a chicken with its head off. One thing that I can say helps me is that outside of reading my textbook and reviewing my class notes, I listen to the Barbri lectures whenever I am in my car, I think the repetition helps me. Other than that I try to write everything down so I can keep track of all the things I need to do and I constantly tell myself that I can, I will, and I must see this through.

What does the future look like for you after graduation? 

I don’t know exactly but I am optimistic. My goal is to be at the decision-making table relying on my acquired knowledge, my experiences, and my personal connection to the realities of my community to make meaningful change as it pertains to the health and welfare of minorities and other disenfranchised groups.

What will you be doing this summer with your internship?

A little bit of everything! This summer I will be splitting my summer between the Department of Community Health and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. I am primarily hoping to get some insight into policy approaches to address health disparities and the development/implementation of policy at a local and state level. Additionally, I have been asked by two different law firms to assist on independent projects so I am excited about that especially because it will give me some exposure to state and federal litigation.

Who inspires you? 

I am forever inspired by all the minorities and all the women that have paved the way for me to be able to do everything that I have done and will do in the future. I am also forever inspired by everyone who has been able to turn tragedy into triumph and to overcome adversity. 

It is our pleasure to be a part of Shannan’s journey and we wish her all the best in her internships this summer. We can’t wait to see what she does next!

AJMLS Honors Judge Angela Duncan and Corey Martin as 2021 Distinguished Alumni

On Saturday, May 22, 2021, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) presented The Distinguished Alumni Award to two incredible alumni at the 2021 commencement ceremony. This year’s honorees are Judge Angela Duncan, Class of 1996, and Corey Martin, Class of 2009. The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to alumni who have obtained distinction in their professional careers. Those honored share the same characteristics of leadership, progressive thinking, high standards, uncompromising integrity, commitment, courage, and confidence. Their careers serve as models for Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School students and alumni.

Honorable Angela Duncan

Angela D. Duncan is the newest Superior Court Judge in the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit and was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from North Georgia College and served in the U.S. Army Reserves from March 1987 to March 1995 as a light-weight vehicle mechanic.

She later attended Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School part-time attending both day and night classes while also maintaining a full-time job. Throughout her study, she sought to experience different areas of law by working at a different firm each year of law school. She learned every aspect of private firms, from working in the file room to becoming a law librarian assistant and court runner. She also experienced many different law practices prior to graduation, from labor law and appellate work to personal injury and criminal defense.

While continuing her practice, Judge Duncan served as a Judge in the Cities of Chamblee, Snellville, Doraville, and Norcross Municipal Courts and as a part-time Judge for the Magistrate Court in Gwinnett County before she was appointed as a full-time Magistrate Court Judge in 2016. She was the Chief Judge in the City of Chamblee when Governor Kemp appointed her to the Superior Court bench.

Judge Duncan’s passion for service is not just reserved for the legal system in Gwinnett County. When she is not presiding over court proceedings she can be found out in the community participating in one of the many outreach programs she is a member of, including the Veterans Resource Center and serving as a board member for Gold Star Monument.

Corey Martin

Corey Martin is the Founder and Managing Partner at The Law Offices of Martin & Associates located in Douglasville, Georgia. His law practice focuses on Criminal Defense, Immigration and Personal Injury. He is a Senior Adviser for Martin Financial Solutions and Counsel for J&A Sports Management. He graduated with Honors in 2009 from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and received his undergraduate Math Degree from Excelsior College. While in law school Corey externed with the IRS, Douglas County Solicitor General’s Office, and the Department of Homeland Security- Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Corey is an eight (8) year military veteran and is the Supervising Attorney of AJMLS’, Veterans Legal Clinic located at Fort McPherson, Georgia. The Legal Clinic represents veterans free of charge in misdemeanor criminal cases throughout the State of Georgia. He is an active member of the AJMLS Alumni Board and frequently volunteers to help students prepare for the legal field.

Corey is a 2020 Daily Report Distinguished Leaders Award Honoree and the recipient of the 2020 State Bar of Georgia, William B. Spann Jr. Award. He is also a Douglas County Partner in Education, a Douglas County Juvenile Court Administrative Council Member, a Match Mentor, a Partner of Fundacion Voces Unidas and a member of several Boards.

AJMLS Participates in 14th Annual Youth and the Law Summit

On Saturday, April 24, 2021, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) sponsored and participated in the 14th annual Youth and the Law Summit. The 2021 summit was successfully held virtually due to COVID-19.

Under the leadership of Dr. Bridgett Ortega, Associate Dean of Career Services and Professional Development, Mr. Paul Wilson and ten AJMLS students volunteered to help support the first-ever virtual Youth and the Law Summit led by Judge Renata Turner and the Juvenile Court of Fulton County. Judge Turner is a long-time friend of the Law School and previously served as its Assistant Dean of Pro Bono and Experiential Learning. This year’s event, titled “Dreams 2 Reality”, was co-chaired by Darrick McDuffie, senior counsel at Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP, and Dr. Bridgett Ortega.

The Youth and the Law Summit is an annual event that focuses on providing meaningful and impactful education and support to teens and parents on a variety of life and legal issues. This year, the summit was organized into breakout rooms where parents and teens could attend interactive sessions with top professionals and ask questions in small groups. Each AJMLS volunteer was tasked to assist in each room along with several other administrative tasks that helped the summit be successful and have over 100 participants.

Many organizations helped support this effort and AJMLS is proud to be a part of such a great group. AJMLS stands true to its commitment to the community and looks forward to helping again next year!  

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Welcomes Judge Angela Duncan, Class of 1996, as 2021 Commencement Speaker

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to announce Judge Angela Duncan, Class of 1996, as the Law School’s 2021 commencement speaker. Commencement exercises are scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. on May 22, 2021 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Atrium Ballroom – 265 Peachtree Center Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30303. A live stream of the ceremony will be made available at www.johnmarshall.edu. Due to a cancelled event in 2020, this year’s commencement welcomes graduates who finished their degree December 2019 through May 2021.

“I am honored that Judge Duncan accepted our invitation to be this year’s commencement speaker. Her background and rise to the top of the legal profession are emblematic of the quality of legal professional Atlanta’s John Marshall Law strives to create. We are truly proud of her success.”

– Dean Jace C. Gatewood

About Judge Angela Duncan

Judge Angela Duncan was appointed the 11th Superior Court Judge for Gwinnett County in 2019. Gwinnett County is Georgia’s second largest county and this position was created by Governor Brian Kemp to assist in the increasing caseload. Duncan was Gwinnett’s first openly gay Superior Court judge as she joins a handful of other officials who are members of the LGBTQ community and hold high profile positions in the county.

Judge Duncan has worked as a Gwinnett County Magistrate Court judge for the past 15 years and was the chief judge for the city of Chamblee’s municipal court at the time of her appointment. She earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from North Georgia College and served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1987 to 1995.

Duncan attended AJMLS part-time attending both day and night classes while also maintaining a full time job. Throughout her study, she sought to experience different areas of law by working at a different firm each year of law school. She learned every aspect of private firms, from working in the file room to becoming a law librarian assistant and court runner. She also experienced many different law practices prior to graduation, from labor law and appellate work to personal injury and criminal defense.

It was during her third year of study, and work at the former Gambrell and Stolz, that her interest was piqued in serving on the bench. Irwin W. Stolz, Jr., who served on the Georgia Court of Appeals from 1972-1977, was an excellent mentor and teacher during her employment at the firm.

When asked what it meant to return to her alma mater in this capacity, she said,

“It is an honor to be asked to come back and be the 2021 Commencement Speaker. Never did I believe as I gave my sweat and tears to the halls of AJMLS that I would receive this honor. It is amazing to see how AJMLS has grown over the years since I have graduated. I am so proud of what the school and its alumni have accomplished over the years.”

– Judge Angela Duncan

Tickets are required for entry and the ticket window has closed. For general information you can visit our graduation page here and/or our logistics page here for further details.

Outstanding Student of the Quarter Awards

The Office of Student Affairs is pleased to announce the names of the students who were selected for the Outstanding Student of the Quarter Award. This award is designed to recognize the contributions and efforts of students who excel in and/or out of the classroom and are dedicated to enriching the law school and greater communities.

The following students won the 2021 Outstanding Student of the Quarter Award for this quarter:

Full-Time Division:

Meredith Shea

Kamali Thompson

Jason Warren

Part-Time Division:

Lauren Boffill

Whitnie Carter

Jazmin Dilligard

Jessica Jones

The Selection Committee was impressed by all of the students whose names were submitted for the award. We look forward to continuing to hear about the hard work of our students in and out of the classroom. We are #AJMLSproud!

Advance Bar Prep Part Two: Friends and Family

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

In Part One of this series on Advance Bar Prep, we discussed the importance of “Understanding Your Why” to help you maintain motivation, to encourage daily success efforts, and to help you avoid creating mental barriers to your own success. Part Two of this series will discuss another oft overlooked component of bar exam success, “Friends and Family.”

If you step back and think about your life on any particular day, you will quickly realize that other people and your interactions with them play a big role in your day. Positive interactions can lift you up and inspire, and alternatively, negative interaction can drag you down and demotivate you. It makes sense that if your normal daily life can be positively and negatively impacted by others, if you then add bar exam study and stress into that mix, these interactions will have increased weight. A positive interaction can lift you up when you feel like you cannot possibly watch another video, do another practice question, or read one more outline. On the other hand, a negative interaction can distract you from your work, make you question how you are balancing your life, and lead to feelings of frustration and guilt. It makes sense to think about your relationships early.

Obviously, despite the beginning of your bar preparation, you will still interact with other people and be impacted by them. The key to enhancing the positivity and supportive nature of these interactions, while simultaneously minimizing any negativity, frustration, and guilt, is to do some early preparation. By having conversations with your friends and family about your journey and the time requirements of your studies, setting aside time in advance to spend with them, and managing others’ expectations of your time and availability, you can save yourself stress and frustration down the road. Here are three tips to help you be successful on the bar exam by actively managing your relationships in a way that supports your success.

1. Let your friends and family know what you are doing.

This may sound obvious, but taking the time to communicate with your friends and family about what you will be doing from graduation until you take the bar exam can help you avoid a lot of pitfalls down the road. Although it may seem like everyone should understand that you will be busy studying as you prepare for the challenges of the bar exam, the truth of the matter is that anyone who hasn’t engaged in such a rigorous undertaking may not understand why you need to spend so many hours every single day studying. It may seem instead that you are neglecting them, have poor time management, or that they are just not your priority. If you take the time in advance to discuss what your daily schedule will be like, let them know a timeline, and ask them for their patience before you begin your studies, you will potentially avoid a lot of problems and stress down the road.

2. Make your friends and family a part of your weekly schedule.

Generally, the importance of time management during bar prep is understood, and ensuring that you have time to watch lectures, review your notes and outlines, engage in practice questions, write essays, and other important things is simply a matter of assigning a time and day to them. This process is important as it helps you stay on the right track to success, but it is equally important to schedule time to spend with friends and family as well. Bar prep is time consuming and intensive, but it should not encompass every hour of every single day. Instead, treat it like a job, and when you are not working, make time to reconnect with friends and spend time with family. This will not only help you maintain positive relationships, but it will help keep you healthy, supported, and balanced as you engage in the rigors of preparing for the bar exam. If you get in the habit of scheduling and valuing others’ time before you start prepping for the bar exam, you will find that it is much easier to continue that habit during your prep.

3. Remember that other people have lives outside of bar prep.

This is one of those things that makes sense when you stop and think about it, but is not so easy to keep in mind when you are preparing for perhaps the most important test of your life. If you think back to the beginning of law school, you will likely remember a sense of disconnect with those who were not in law school because of how embedded you were in the process of legal education. No one outside of law school understood the perils and fears associated with the Socratic method, why you feared losing a highlighter, or why the letters IRAC made you cringe. The bar exam process is the same while you are in the middle of it for you, but it is also the same for those that are outside looking in at you. Just as they may not understand what you are going through, try to keep in mind that you may not understand what they are going through as someone who supports you and cares about you, and try to be open to communication and also inquiring about things that are not related to bar prep. Not only will it give you a nice break, but it will also help ensure that you stay connected with the people that matter most. Make sure that you actively engage with others before you begin your process, and it will be easier to maintain that communication and stay engaged during your preparation.

The aforementioned things are important for your mental and emotional well-being, but they will also help you on the exam. One of the most common refrains I hear from bar exam takers is about how lonely the process is, and how cut-off they feel from friends and family. If you actively engage in the aforementioned before (and during) your bar prep, you will find yourself better prepared and better able to handle the stress and rigors of the process.

In Part Three of this series, we will take a look at how you can “Make Your Commercial Course a Success Before Day One” and discuss a variety of ways that you can ensure you hit the ground running when your commercial course starts.

AJMLS 3L, Yvette Hill, Two-Time Young Litigators Project Champion Coach

The Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Office of Experiential Learning & Pro Bono Programs is proud to announce that Yvette Hill, Class of 2021, has helped coach her team participating in the Young Litigators Project (YLP) to victory two years in a row!

Each year, AJMLS students participate in the Young Litigators Project run by Soulstice, Inc. that recruits attorneys and law students to work with teams of high school and middle school students to educate them on the law and appellate procedures. More specifically, attorneys and law students help their teams understand fact patterns, how to analyze statutes and case law, how to write a brief, and prepare for an oral argument. On March 5, 2021, YLP hosted a Moot Court competition where each team, with the help of their coaches, presented their oral argument before a panel of judges and attorneys. All of the teams that participated did very well and competition was very strong. When the competition ended and results were announced, the team that Yvette helped coach would claim the top spot once again. Great job!

Thank you, Yvette, for your commitment to pro bono service and the community and a special thanks to everyone who participated, volunteered, and supported YLP this year. There is no contribution to this service that is too small.

March 2021 Employees of the Month, Hermelda Branford and Rebecca Milter

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is delighted to continue its Employee of the Month Program by celebrating TWO wonderful employees. The peer votes were tied this month so the celebration is twice as fun. AJMLS appreciates the efforts of its employees who strive to achieve goals and fulfill the vision of Atlanta’s John Marshall. Outstanding employees deserve to be recognized both as a reward for exceptional performance and as a model to others. The program seeks to recognize hard work and achievement in the workplace and is a peer-to-peer recognition program.

The March 2021 Employees of the Month are Hermelda Branford, Departmental Assistant and Rebecca Milter, Executive Director of Admissions and Recruitment.

Hermelda Branford has been a seasonal or part-time employee with the Law School since 2012. Her many valuable roles support the staff from the office of the Registrar to the office of Financial Aid to the Faculty Administration during exam periods. She has been described as “collegial” and consistently dedicated to being present, almost daily, even during these unprecedented times. She greets you with a smile and is always willing to assist in any capacity that she can. Hermelda enjoys that the flexible schedule allows her to be available for her grandson who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.      

“I have been fortunate to work under the direction of directors and administrators while building good rapport with everyone since 2012.  I have acquired valuable skills and language of the law as well as picking additional responsibilities at every opportunity.  I would be remiss if I didn’t express thanks to those who participated in my endeavor. Most of my support and gratitude goes to the office of the Registrar and the office of Financial Aid.”  

– Hermelda Branford

Prior to Atlanta’s John Marshall Hermelda was an employee of Clark Atlanta University for fifteen years. There, she worked in the Division of Student Affairs as an Administrative Assistant for the Office of Student Center Management and later Assistant to the Dean of Students, and finally, Program Coordinator for the School of Social Work – Master Program in Academic Affairs. 

Rebecca Milter has worked in the Office of Admissions since 2010, first joining the team as the Admissions Counselor and now serving as the Executive Director. Rebecca goes above and beyond, ensuring that all admitted students are excited and connected. She is dedicated not just to the incoming class, but to the school as a whole. She has remained dedicated and determined to bring in an incredible class, even during a pandemic! She is pleasant to work with and willing to help in other areas. When she’s not working, Rebecca enjoys spending quality time with her five-year old daughter, Eleanor Gray, and old english sheepdog, Sadie Sue.

“I love being apart of aspiring attorneys’ dreams. I have the unique opportunity to encounter students at the beginning of their journey. I find the greatest fulfillment in my role when I am able to watch those same graduates I counseled years prior, walk across the stage to receive their diploma. It is such a joy to know I played a part in making their dream a reality.”

– Rebecca Milter

Prior to joining the Admissions team at AJMLS, Rebecca lived in New York City and helped open Stella McCartney’s US public relations office, then worked at GUCCI on 5th Avenue in VIP client sales.

Congratulations to Hermelda and Rebecca! Thank you for all you do for Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and its students.

Advance Bar Prep Part One: Understanding Your Why

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

In part one of this series on advance bar prep planning, I want to discuss the importance of engaging in a thoughtful, purposeful approach at the beginning of the bar preparation process. Too often, recent law school graduates wait until the start date of their commercial bar prep course to engage in the bar preparation process, neglecting to engage in advance planning and then struggling with time management, motivation, anxiety, and an overwhelming sense of being behind. In this segment of the series, I want to introduce the first of four key components to successful advance planning in order to optimize your chances for being successful in your studies and passing the bar exam.

The first of these early planning components is ‘understanding your why.’ 

‘Understanding your why’ is a phrase that I utilize to assist students in preparing for the rigors of bar preparation. I truly believe that one of the reasons that students flounder and struggle with fatigue, self-doubt, frustration, and fear is because they lose sight of why they are participating in the process.

I’ll give you an example. Picture yourself watching a man in a suit pull up in a Tesla, jump out, and immediately dive into a dumpster. This behavior is perplexing on the surface, and you may find yourself pondering what in the world this gentleman is doing. However, if I told you that he accidentally threw his wallet away, along with his life savings that he was taking to a new bank, this behavior would quickly make sense. Understanding the man’s ‘why’ helped you understand what he was doing and his motivation for doing so.

However, many students forget to engage in this self-reflection before and during their bar prep process. Instead of thinking about everything that motivated them to be successful prior to the start of bar prep, many students instead think about the barriers between them and success, such as the long hours of study, the drudgery, essay writing practice, the possibility of failure, and a plethora of other unhelpful things. Not only does this not assist law school graduates in passing the bar exam, it actually demotivates them because they get too caught up in the day-to-day instead of focusing on the ‘why’ they are doing what they are doing. If you do not fully understand why you are doing something, it is hard to be motivated to engage in that activity for hours each and every day.

This then leads us to the question of how do we get students to successfully engage in changing their patterns and effectively engage in understanding their why?

“Stop rehearsing life’s failures. Use your beautiful imagination to visualize success.”

~Cheryl Richardson

As the above quote reflects, instead of getting caught in the mental trap of thinking about all of the barriers between you and success, let me encourage you to instead engage in the following mental exercise at least three times a day during the days leading up to the start of your bar preparation course, and to continue engaging in a similar manner daily during the bar prep process. As part of your daily schedule, I suggest that you perform the following mental exercise:

Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Think about every success that you have had that has led you to reaching this moment in time. Next, think about the most important people who sacrificed or assisted you in getting to this point. Then, imagine what it would be like to triumphantly tell those people about successfully passing the bar exam. Finally, try to feel your joy and happiness when you imagine receiving your passing score, and think about how proud you will be of your success.

Although this is a simple exercise, when performed regularly, it keeps you focused on several key things. It reminds you of your past success, and gives you confidence that you can be successful in the future. It helps you to appreciate where you are and how you got to the point in your life where you have the opportunity to realize your goals and become an attorney. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, picturing yourself being successful on the bar exam and sharing that moment with others is a powerful visualization technique that will instill confidence and motivate you.

Don’t believe me? Try engaging in that exercise now and write down how you feel afterwards. I think you will be pleasantly pleased. You will come to realize that you have a choice in how you approach bar prep, and that the coming months are not full of barriers to your success, but are instead paved with stepping stones on your path to achieving your goal of passing the bar exam.

Denis Waitley has a famous quote which sums it all up nicely, “When you visualize, you materialize.” Remember, you have the power to make your dreams a reality, and you control your journey to success. Put the work in, and you will succeed.

In the next part of this series, we will examine another often overlooked factor in bar success, ‘Friends and Family’. Until then, work hard, and remember to visualize daily to assist you in making your dreams of becoming an attorney a reality.

AJMLS Law Journal Elects 2021-2022 Editorial Board for Volume 15

The 2020-2021 Law Journal Editorial Board and its Faculty Advisor Editor since 2015, Professor Van Detta, are pleased to announce the election of the five new members of the Editorial Board of the Law Journal for 2021-2022:

Editor-in Chief – Sandler Ernst

Sandler Ernst was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. At six months old, he was adopted by two lawyers and brought to Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from Woodward Academy, he earned a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Spanish from Georgia State University. A few years after graduating college, Sandler moved to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to teach English. While he found teaching English rewarding, he also witnessed extreme levels of economic inequality and local governments that would not enforce child labor laws. Thus, he decided to attend Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School with the goal of joining his mother’s family law practice solely devoted to the field of adoption law when he graduates.  

During his 1L year, Sandler earned two CALI awards in Civil Procedure II and Contracts II. Additionally, Sandler was invited to join Atlanta’s John Marshall Law Journal because he ranked in the top ten percent of his class. As an associate staff member of the Law Journal, he wrote a legislative summary on Senate Bill 463: Primaries and Elections. He sought to summarize this bill because of how important the state of Georgia has become in election outcomes. Furthermore, he is excited to have been chosen to lead the Law Journal as its next Editor-in-Chief. His goal as the next Editor-in-Chief is to ensure the Law Journal’s continued success and bring awareness of its important mission to the incoming students. 

Executive Managing Editor – Tierra Monteiro

Tierra Monteiro is from Atlanta, Georgia and is currently a part-time evening student at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School with an expected graduation date of May 2022. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Spelman College in 2010. Prior to law school, Tierra spent five years as a high school Chemistry teacher. Since May 2019, she has worked as a Law Clerk at an employment law firm located in Decatur, Georgia. Tierra chose to seek a position on the Law Journal Editorial Board because she has always had a passion for writing. Further, this opportunity will allow her to work collaboratively with peers as well as refine her research, editing, and writing skills. Tierra’s Legislative summary discusses the Forming Open and Robust Open Minds (FORUM) Act, which focuses on students’ first amendment rights while on Georgia’s college and university campuses.

Executive Legislative Editor – Naja MacIntosh

Naja MacIntosh is a rising 3L in the full-time day program and a resident of Suwanee, Georgia. Ms. MacIntosh holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of North Georgia as well as a master’s degree in forensic nursing from Fitchburg State University. She sought out the position of Executive Legislative Editor with Law Journal to highlight the workings of our state government and promote political awareness. Ms. MacIntosh based her Legislative Summary upon Georgia Senate Bill 291, the “Georgia Death with Dignity Act” which proposed legalization of physician-assisted end-of-life options for terminally ill Georgians.

Online Access & Internet Presence Editor – Jason Warren

Jason Warren, 2L at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, hails originally from Chicago, Illinois. He is a husband and father of four. He chose to pursue a position on the Editorial board of the Law Journal because he recognizes the opportunity that work affords to sharpen his skills as a legal writer, while helping to lead the Journal into increasing prominence within its chief audiences – the practicing bar and the bench. “Being a part of the Law Journal,’ Mr. Warren notes, “is an honor and a privilege, and serving on the Board allows me to help assure the Journal’s success in the present and beyond.” Of his current written work for the Journal, Mr. Warren says: “For my legislative summary, I chose to highlight House Bill 546, Georgia’s criminal abortion bill. Abortion is a key topic in Georgia and beyond, and I wanted to focus on a controversial bill that stands to affect many lives. With recent appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, abortion laws in the United States may again soon rise to the forefront.”

Annual Symposium Editor – Joseph Bush

Joseph Bush was born February 26, 1979 in Easley, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in History on Dec 18, 2006. Mr. Bush is a volunteer with Rockdale County CASA, where he serves as Lay Guardian Ad Litem for children in foster care in Rockdale County, Georgia. Mr. Bush is a rising third year law student in the full-time day program. He has received CALI Awards in Criminal Law, Real Property, and Wills Trusts and Estates. Mr. Bush was invited to join Atlanta’s John Marshall Law Journal at the conclusion of his first year. He sought a position on the editorial board of the Law Journal due to the opportunity to promote a culture of study and academic curiosity at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, and to help coordinate our Annual Symposium in the Spring of 2022. Mr. Bush wrote his Legislative Summary on Georgia House Bill 751: Anti-Red Flag – Second Amendment Conservation Act and is currently working on a comment regarding the modernization of the judicial system as an indirect effect of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

AJMLS 4L, Ashley Lewis, Awarded 2021 GAWL Foundation Scholarship

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates 4L, Ashley Lewis, as this year’s Georgia Association for Women Lawyers (GAWL) Foundation Scholarship recipient. 

*The GAWL Foundation awards scholarships every spring to deserving women law students in Georgia. Scholarship winners are honored at the GAWL Annual Dinner and receive, in addition to the scholarship, a complimentary one­-year GAWL membership. GAWL Foundation Scholarships are intended to: 

Recognize women law students who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence and an aptitude for leadership and philanthropy;

Promote excellence in legal studies by providing assistance to deserving students; and

Advance the missions of both the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers (GAWL) and the GAWL Foundation by enhancing the welfare and development of women lawyers and supporting their interests, and by encouraging philanthropy by women lawyers in Georgia for the benefit of the greater community.  

When asked what the scholarship means to her, Ashley said,

“This scholarship means that I can focus on the bar without worrying about the financial burden of having to work. It also means that people value me for being authentically me. I did not have perfect grades, but I showed them my authentic self and my drive to advance other law students. I think it is a reminder that you have to always be true to yourself. In addition, this scholarship reminds me to continue to pay it forward for other up and coming law students. As I prepare to embark upon my legal career, I want all law students, particularly female law students, to know that anything is possible with determination, grit, and a lot of hard work!”

Ashley goes on to say, “A huge thank you to my mentor Tiffany Watkins and Professor Jeffrey Van Detta for being amazing advocates for me, not only for this scholarship but throughout my entire law school journey!”

Thinking ahead, Ashley noted of the future,

“My future aspiration is to become a corporate finance and securities attorney. However, I want to always ensure I am giving back to the community in which I live, whether through pro bono or community service efforts. One of my favorite organizations is the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF).”

In her current role as the Vice President of the AJMLS GAWL Chapter, Ashley assists the GAWL President with implementing events to inspire and educate female law students about the many opportunities within the legal profession. Ashely enjoys supporting and uplifting students, and as such, mentors a plethora of pre-law and first-year law students. Currently, she serves as the Director for the AJMLS Peer Mentoring Program. In this role, she mentors first-year law students, majority female, by providing guidance and encouragement throughout their first year of law school. In addition, she previously served on the Student Programs Committee, for the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys. In this role, she helped to assist with programming for minority female law students such as the organization’s Annual Blue Jeans brunch. Ashley also actively participates in community outreach through AJMLS, by volunteering each year at My Sister’s House. On Halloween, they usually visit the women’s shelter and provide the children with candy and school supplies. On several occasions, she has also volunteered with the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation in the Housing Court Assistance Center, where she helps low-income tenants to understand their rights and assists with filing answers to dispossessory complaints.

The Law School is incredibly proud of Ashley’s determination and community service and looks forward to following her career and championing her future successes!

*GAWL Foundation

AJMLS Welcomes Dr. J.L. Wyatt as Director of Career Services

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is happy to announce that Dr. J.L. Wyatt has accepted the Director of Career Services position at the Law School, effective February 2021. She is responsible for overseeing all career services operations at AJMLS and is a member of the Career Services and Professional Development team, led by Dr. Bridgett Ortega.

Dr. Wyatt joined AJMLS with more than eight years of experience in higher education, including Career Development and Employer Relations.

“Becoming a part of the AJMLS Career Services team aligned well with my professional background and I have always aspired to work in the field of professional education” said Wyatt. “The flexible program offerings at AJMLS attracted me to the institution since I share the experience of earning a terminal degree while working full-time, like many AJMLS students.”

When asked what she wanted students and employers to know, she noted,

“I really view my role as being a professional needs concierge for both students and employers. For students, I am able to provide personalized career development aligned with their areas of legal interest. My job is to anticipate the needs of firms and employers and provide them with access to candidates that meet those needs.”

Dr. Wyatt has already set her objectives for the direction of her department:

“I look forward to providing a stellar employer experience, ensuring all AJMLS students achieve career milestones during each year of their program, collaborating with faculty to increase engagement and programming for students, enhancing equity for AJMLS candidates participating in job fairs, partnering with firms to develop signature job fair programs exclusively for AJMLS students, and streamlining the Graduate Employment Survey process.”

Wyatt earned her PhD from Mercer University in 2014 where her research focused on the retention of underrepresented students in higher education. In her spare time, she has been writing a self-help book based on popular culture and she looks forward to publishing soon.

Dr. Wyatt may be reached at jwyatt@johnmarshall.edu or (678) 916-2612.

February 2021 Employee of the Month, Angela Sumpter

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is delighted to continue its newly created Employee of the Month Program. AJMLS appreciates the efforts of its employees who strive to achieve goals and fulfill the vision of Atlanta’s John Marshall. Outstanding employees deserve to be recognized both as a reward for exceptional performance and as a model to others. The program seeks to recognize hard work and achievement in the workplace and is a peer-to-peer recognition program.

The February 2021 Employee of the Month recipient is Angela Sumpter, Career Services and Professional Development Coordinator.

Prior to joining the Law School in 2016, Angela was a Tenant Services Coordinator, a Recruiter, an HR Staffing Assistant, and an Assistant Operations Manager. Angela transitioned from managing the Blackburn Conference Center and all of its events to coordinating job fairs and maintaining the employer, student, and alumni database with Career Services and Professional Development.

A few fun facts about Angela are… she was an amateur violist, an accomplished modern dancer with training in ballet, lyrical, and jazz, and once owned a staffing business in the automotive industry. She enjoys spending quality time with her family while trying to live a clean, healthy lifestyle through a plant based diet, lots of laughter, and a little exercise preferably on a beach.

Angela has been a vital contributor maintaining the ABA requirements for the Employment Questionnaire reports. She is always eager to assist wherever needed and receives excellent feedback from her peers. We are very happy to have her on our team!

Merchant & Gould P.C. Establishes Merit Aid Scholarship for Diverse, Intellectual Property Students at AJMLS

The John Marshall Law School Foundation is pleased to announce its newest scholarship fund for Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) students: The Merchant & Gould Scholarship. The inaugural scholarship recipients have been announced and the fund has awarded its first $5,000 in merit aid to two incredible students: 4L Whitnie Carter and 2L Brianna Smith.

Merchant & Gould P.C. is a national intellectual property law firm with clients in the Southeast region. Their scholarship is for Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School students seeking a career in intellectual property law and coming from diverse backgrounds. In addition to providing financial support, the firm wants to create opportunities and experiences for the next generation of IP attorneys. The scholarship will be awarded in the spring of each year.  

“As the legal industry continues to grow, Merchant & Gould is thrilled to enable these law schools to recruit and support more students typically underrepresented in intellectual property law,” said Andrew L. Jagenow, partner and Diversity Committee Chair, Merchant & Gould. “Through the scholarships, we are pleased to give resources to students and, by extension, help make our legal community more diverse, inclusive, and innovative.”

“Dare to be great. The best is yet to come,” said Whitnie Carter, a 4L student and inaugural scholarship recipient.

“I aspire to continue to diversify the field of Intellectual Property law, and this scholarship is the first step in my goals. To me, this scholarship means that every day I dare to be great to make it easier for the little girls who want to pursue this profession like me. The youth is our future, and if I can impact them, then it makes the path easier for generations to come.”

Carter is a graduate of Georgia State University, a Atlanta IP Inns of Court student pupil, a volunteer for Atlanta Lawyers for the Arts, a student member of Gate City Bar Association, a student member of the State Bar of Georgia Association, and is the co-chair of the Georgia Association for Black Women Attorneys.

Brianna Smith, a 2L student and Howard University graduate, said of her scholarship award,

“I am honored to be a recipient of the Merchant & Gould 2021 scholarship. Upon graduation in 2022, I plan to be an Entertainment and Business Law Attorney. This scholarship means a lot to me as it is allowing me to pour into my craft and career and is also a confirmation that I am on the right path. Intellectual Property is an area that has always been dear to my heart and I cannot wait to get into the field as a practicing attorney so that I may give back.”

Smith is a member of the Pi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, a member of the Black Law Student Association, serves as the AJMLS Student Body Association Secretary, and is the Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and the John Marshall Law School Foundation congratulate its inaugural Merchant & Gould Scholarship recipients and wish them well on their journey.

For more information about the scholarship, please email Wendy Aina at waina@johnmarshall.edu.

To donate to the scholarship fund, click here.

Georgia Bar Exam News, Graduating Students Workshops, and Bar Preparation Information

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

It is hard to believe that the bar exam is already on the horizon, but remember that July is only a few months away. There have been many questions about whether the Georgia Bar Exam will be in-person or administered remotely, and today the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners announced that the July administration will be given remotely. You can see that official announcement here, and the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success (AABS) recommends that you review the Georgia February 2021 Remote Bar Exam FAQ’s to help begin developing a sense of what that has previously entailed, and to provide some insights as to what that might mean for bar examinees in July. If you are sitting for a different state bar exam, please visit the NCBE July 2021 updates website for the latest updates for your particular jurisdiction.

Speaking of the Georgia Bar Exam, there are a variety of opportunities for you to get assistance in the application and bar preparation process. The first workshop series is coming up on Monday, April 5, at 5:00 p.m., and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is fortunate to have a presentation from the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners around the application process and to share some insights about what graders are looking for when grading the bar exam.

You will receive this invitation directly, but here is a copy for your convenience:

“Mark your calendars! The first of a series of events for graduating students intending to take the bar exam is coming up soon. The Georgia Board of Bar Examiners will be joining us Monday, April 5, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. via Zoom. During the presentation, the examiners will discuss important information for students to remember in applying for the exam and things to remember on exam day(s). You will be able to access the meeting here

There will also be a bar examiner there to debrief a bar exam question that they recently wrote and scored for a past exam. Once we receive the question they plan to walk through, we will be sending it out so you have an opportunity to complete it before the actual presentation. This will be a great tool and learning experience to better understand how the Georgia Bar Exam is testing, and what the examiners are looking for when grading bar questions.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know. There will be additional reminders closer to the event, and more announcements to come. We look forward to seeing you at the event!”

If you are sitting for the exam in other jurisdictions, relevant links for deadlines and other information can be found on the AABS website.

Additionally, please keep in mind that our summer bar supplemental programming will be starting soon, and that not only you will have access to a variety of workshops and programming to supplement your commercial bar preparation course, but that you will also have the opportunity to directly work with members of the AABS team. Keep an eye on your inbox for additional information, invitations, and know that we are excited to work with you on your path to success.

Last, but certainly not least, at this point you should have received your information to access your commercial bar preparation course. We highly encourage you to go ahead and login to get a sense of how the course works, a better understanding of the interface, and to give yourself an early opportunity to ask questions or address issues before your commercial bar review course starts.

Remember, the bar exam should not be viewed as an obstacle, but rather as an opportunity and stepping stone on your path towards becoming an impactful member of the legal profession, and that AABS is always here to assist you on that journey. You are always welcome to contact us at aabs@johnmarshall.edu.

Professor Michael Mears Selected to Participate in Transnational Legal Education Project

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Associate Professor, Michael Mears, has been selected to participate in a transnational legal education project with the National Law University in New Delhi, India.

The National Law University in New Delhi is one of the national law schools in India built on the five-year law degree model proposed and implemented by the Bar Council of India. National Law University (NLU) Delhi was established in 2008 with the objective of promoting ethical values with a view to promoting the rule of law and the objectives laid down in the Constitution of India. The University offers various courses including an LL.B. Program and a Ph.D. Program in multiple specializations.

Professor Mears will be lecturing on several selected themes including the American Legal System’s adversarial system, the right against self-incrimination, and the advancement of forensic evidence in the American Judicial System. Professor Mears will be collaborating in this series of lectures with Dr. Bharti Yadav, Assistant Professor of Law at National Law University, Delhi.

Professor Mears has been on the faculty at AJMLS since 2007. He teaches evidence, advanced evidence, criminal law, criminal procedure, and criminal law ethics. In 2003, 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. He then retired from that position in 2007 and has been an Associate Professor AJMLS since.

Thank you for your contributions to the international legal community, Professor Mears. We are thrilled that law students internationally have the opportunity to learn from your expertise.

Anonymous Donor Makes $100,000 Matching Donation to John Marshall Law School Foundation, Inc.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) and the John Marshall Law School Foundation, Inc. are excited to share great news about a recent $100,000 matching gift donation by an anonymous donor. AJMLS alumni can now participate and help achieve the Law School’s goal of providing more scholarships to our students this upcoming academic year.

The generous donor has committed to match all gift amounts up to $1,000 made by AJMLS alumni, meaning, the Law School has the opportunity to double the gift with the help of its community. The additional funds will allow Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School to provide more scholarships to recruit and retain students, improve our students’ quality of life, and improve our academic reputation and school ranking.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Donors must be AJMLS alumni in order for the donations to be matched;
  • Gifts will be matched up to $1,000 per donation;
  • Gift matching will be during the period March 15th, 2021 to May 15th, 2021;
  • All gifts to John Marshall Law School Foundation, Inc. are tax-deductible

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School invites you to make a gift to the John Marshall Law School Foundation, Inc. Together, we will make a transformational impact on the future of our law students.

Thank you for your support – let’s double the gift!

Outstanding Student of the Quarter Awards

The Office of Student Affairs is pleased to announce the names of the students who were selected for the Outstanding Student of the Quarter Award. This award is designed to recognize the contributions and efforts of students who excel in and/or out of the classroom and are dedicated to enriching the law school and greater communities. The following students won the 2021 Outstanding Student of the Quarter Award for this quarter:

Full-Time Division:

Joseph Bush

Shombraya Goodman

Ashley Lewis

Part-Time Division:

Gulliana Goehring

Shannan Young

The Selection Committee was impressed by all of the students whose names were submitted for the award. We look forward to continuing to hear about the hard work of our students in and out of the classroom. We are #johnmarshallproud !

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Meets ABA Bar Passage Standard 316

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to share that the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association, at its February 18-19, 2021, meeting, concluded that the information provided by the Law School is sufficient to demonstrate compliance with its bar passage standard, Standard 316.

Scot Goins, the Director of the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success (AABS), joined AJMLS in September 2020 and has continued AJMLS efforts to support its alumni, including creating new programming for first-time and repeat takers, more than doubling the workshop offerings, and increasing outreach efforts and engagement opportunities for alumni preparing for the bar exam. Goins noted,

“AABS is very excited about this news! We firmly believe that the bar exam should not serve as a barrier, but rather as a stepping stone on the path to success as an effective and impactful attorney. These results reflect not only the commitment of our hardworking faculty and administration but also illustrate the work ethic and dedication of our graduates in preparing for the bar exam. As a law school, we pride ourselves on providing opportunities for traditional and non-traditional students, and it is truly fulfilling to see that mission achieving fruition. On a personal note, I’m really looking forward to seeing everything that these successful bar examinees achieve in their careers, as well as assisting future alumni on their paths to passing the bar exam.”

The Law School is proud of its programming and curricular offerings and looks forward to celebrating more future successes of its hard working students and alumni.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Relocating to Downtown Atlanta with Upgraded Facilities and Amenities

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to announce its plans to relocate to new facilities in the heart of Downtown, Atlanta, just over two miles south of its current location.

The Law School has secured the prominent architectural firm, Stevens & Wilkinson, a full-service architecture, engineering and interior design firm, to lead the multi-floor construction of the new facilities in the renowned Marquis Towers. This will place the Law School at the center of commerce, hospitality, entertainment, transit, retail, and so much more, and will establish Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School as the newest law school facility in the state of Georgia. The Law School intends to take occupancy this summer prior to the start of the Fall 2021 semester.

“We are thrilled to be improving our facilities and amenity offerings to our students while also moving closer to the heart of Downtown Atlanta,” said Dean and CEO, Jace C. Gatewood. “Even during a time of a global pandemic and social unrest, our school has seen tremendous growth in structure and strength and looks forward to continued success at our beautiful new downtown campus.”

The years 2020 and 2021 have provided the Law School with remarkable advancement; appointing Jace C. Gatewood as its 10th and first African American Dean, establishing the John Marshall Law School Foundation, solidifying its qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, appointing a Chief Development Officer to steer the direction of the Foundation in generating scholarship funds, and now relocating to a new and improved campus.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is thankful for its growth and ability to better serve its students, alumni, and legal community.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School – different on purpose.

The Day Before the Bar Exam: Finish Your Journey Strong

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Today, I wanted to share with you a quote from Herb Brooks, who was the head coach of the 1980 U.S Olympic Hockey team that defied the odds and won the gold medal. He said:

“Great moments are born from great opportunity.”

The day before the bar exam is one that can lead to a lot of anxiety and fear. Thoughts of what can go wrong, what law you may not know, fears of the test, worries about the future, and all kinds of other negative emotions can quickly take root in your mind, and quickly grow into a consuming beast that can overwhelm you in the final hours before you take this exam. I get it, the exam is stressful and can produce anxiety, but you have a choice in whether to let these negative emotions take root and grow out of control.

Instead, let me encourage you to look upon the exam as an opportunity for greatness. The bar exam is an opportunity for you to shine and see your dreams come true. It is an opportunity to put all of your studying and hard work on display, showcase your knowledge and the efforts you have put in over the last months, and for you to achieve success.

The bar exam is not something to fear. The bar exam is a great opportunity for you to experience a great moment that unlocks an array of future great moments. This is an opportunity for you to achieve, but if you think about it, there can be no real sense of true achievement without the accompanying fear of failure. You cannot stand on top of the mountain and enjoy the view without taking on the challenge of climbing the mountain to start with.

And that, future attorney, is what you have been doing these past few months. You have been climbing the mountain, building your knowledge, working on your multiple-choice testing skills, practicing your essays, and putting the time into your performance tests. You aren’t standing at the bottom, trying to peer through the clouds, and attempting to imagine where the apex of the mountain is somewhere high above. Instead, you are right on the cusp of standing at the top, triumphantly raising your arms and shouting, “I DID IT!”

The bar exam is a journey, involving a lot of studying and hard work, but you have put that time in and you endured the climb. Now that you are at the top, I encourage you not to worry about falling, even though that fear has lingered during your entire climb. Instead, now is the time to be confident because you have already come so far, and the end of your journey is within your reach. You just have to push a little more, and finish strong.

Breathe deeply today. Visualize your success. Do not let fear and anxiety overcome you when you are so close to your goal. Take your final steps on Tuesday and Wednesday, achieve your goal, and stand proudly at the top enjoying the view.

Embrace the challenge, do not fear it. You started your journey towards this moment years ago, and now is your time to complete it. 

Finish your journey strong. You deserve to enjoy the view and celebrate your success.

AJMLS Mourns the Loss of Longtime Friend, Bobby Lee Cook

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is thankful for its longtime friend, Bobby Lee Cook, who passed away this week at 94. It has been the pleasure of the Law School to have hosted the Bobby Lee Cook Practical Legal Symposium for nine years. The (now-retired) symposium brought together experienced lawyers and judges who reflected on their legal careers, trends in the profession, and advised Atlanta’s John Marshall students about the challenges and opportunities ahead. The event was always open to the public.

Mr. Cook has also appeared on the cover of and been the lead story in the Law School’s The Advocate magazine in 2010.

Cook, who had been a principal of Cook & Connelly in Summerville, GA, earned fame for his career as a criminal defense attorney and representation in some of the most controversial criminal trials in the state. He is believed by many to have inspired the character of “Matlock” in the television series. Mr. Cook’s influence extended beyond Georgia, as he had also represented national and international figures. Early in his career, Mr. Cook served in the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate before becoming a State Court Judge. Mr. Cook’s achievements were recognized by the Georgia Bar in 1994, when it named him Trial Lawyer of the Year.

Cook is survived by daughters Kristina Cook Graham, chief judge of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, and Sara Cook Williams; and several grandchildren.

January 2021 Employee of the Month, Doug Bieber

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to announce the launching of our new Employee of the Month Program. AJMLS appreciates the efforts of its employees who strive to achieve goals and fulfill the vision of the law school, especially during these unprecedented times. Outstanding employees deserve to be recognized both as a reward for exceptional performance and as a model to others. The program seeks to recognize hard work and achievement in the workplace and is a peer-to-peer recognition program.

The January 2021 Employee of the Month recipient is Doug “Dougie” Bieber, Chief Facilities Engineer.

Prior to joining the Law School full-time in 2019, Doug had been a seasonal employee since 2011. A fun fact about Doug is that he was an accomplished lacrosse player at the University of Tennessee and enjoys rooting for the Vols in his free-time.

Doug has been a vital contributor maintaining the campus during the COVID-19 pandemic and the school’s transitioning phase. He is quick to respond and is always willing to assist wherever needed. He receives excellent feedback from his peers and we are very happy to have him on our team!

Please join us in congratulating Doug “Dougie” Bieber as our inaugural Employee of the Month recipient!

AJMLS Welcomes Wendy Aina as Chief Development Officer

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is proud to announce that Wendy Aina has accepted the position of Chief Development Officer of AJMLS and the John Marshall Law School Foundation, effective January 2021. She will also be responsible for leading the Law School’s Development and Alumni Relations department, which includes its newly appointed Director of Alumni Relations.

Wendy comes to AJMLS with 10+ years in higher education and 15+ years working for a large fortune 500 company. Her experience spans customer service, fundraising, and student affairs.

Most recently, Wendy worked at Georgia State University as the Director of Development for Perimeter College, and also at the University of Georgia’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences as Assistant Director of Annual Giving. In both roles, she was able to increase alumni participation, secure scholarship support, increase funding to support student success, and increase various external profiles.

At AT&T, Wendy led teams in the consumer and DSL internet departments where she established a reputation as a leader with a strong customer-centered focus.

Wendy said, 

“I am thrilled to join AJMLS’s team, and I am excited about the opportunity to lead the Foundation in securing scholarship support for our students. I look forward to building strong relationships with our alumni and the community who desire to support our students as they pursue their educational goals of becoming future lawyers.”

She added 

“Every gift is an investment towards the success of our students. The gifts we receive allow us to attract and retain future leaders to AJMLS. It also helps us to ease the burden of student loans on our students so they can focus on the pursuit of their desired educational goals.”

Wendy has both a bachelor’s degree in English, as well as a master’s degree in Educational Administration & Policy. Both degrees were earned from the University of Georgia. For additional information on how you can partner with us please contact Wendy Aina at waina@johnmarshall.edu or (678) 916-2674.

You may also make a gift to the Law School at the link

A Decade and a Dream: Let Evelyn Uba Be Your Inspiration to Succeed

As the bar exam draws ever closer, nerves, anxiety, and fears of failing often begin consuming bar takers, and that is why today I wanted to share the story of Evelyn Uba with you.

You likely don’t know Evelyn, and in fact, you may have never heard of Evelyn before today. However, over the past ten years, she has shared something in common with you, and that is a dream to succeed and pass the bar exam.

Evelyn’s road wasn’t easy. She graduated law school in 2011 and failed the bar exam multiple times – and by multiple times – a quote from her sums it up nicely, “I took the exam more than ten times. I stopped counting after a while but giving up certainly wasn’t in my dictionary.” Evelyn was a full-time working mom, while also raising a family of four, so it would have been easy for her to give up. She was strong though and kept pushing past her challenges, fighting through adversity, and she didn’t let anything stand in the way of her accomplishing her goals. She had plenty of excuses, but she didn’t let all of the reasons why she should not be successful stop her, and she persevered.

On January 9, 2021, Evelyn received notification that she had passed the bar exam, almost ten years after graduating from law school. You can see the video here of when she found out the results, and I highly encourage you to watch it and read about her journey.

I’m sharing Evelyn’s story with you to put things in perspective for you during this stressful and anxiety-ridden time of the year, and to remind you of one thing. You are in control, even when it feels like things are out of your control as you prepare for the bar exam. Ultimately, no one can stop you if you commit to your goal and reach for your dream.

Like Evelyn, you cannot control what appears on the test, but what you can control is your commitment to succeed and your daily work ethic. Recommit yourself today to the realization of your goal to pass the bar exam. Leave nothing on the table over the next few days, focus on doing what you need to improve, and believe in your ability to be successful. Dedicate yourself to working hard, visualize yourself being as happy as Evelyn when you receive your passing score, and make your dream a reality. 

Work hard this week, and believe in yourself. You can do this. I know you can. Be like Evelyn, and don’t let anything stand in the way of your success.

The AJMLS Alumni Association Announces its 2021 Board of Directors

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Alumni Association is proud to announce the newly reconstituted Alumni Association Board of Directors. The Alumni Association Board of Directors consists of attorneys, judges, and executive officers in all areas of practice. Many members of the Board are owners of their law firms, while others work for major organizations including Grady Memorial Hospital, Uber, and the United Way of Greater Atlanta.

The 2021 Board was selected by a committee that focused on a wide range of factors to capture a diverse representation of our alumni base, including, range of practice, graduation date, previous Board experience, among others. Board members will serve three-year terms, meet a minimum of twice per year, will promote engagement and participation through involvement, and provide opportunities to recruit new board leaders, volunteers, members, and supporters.

The first meeting of the reconstituted AJMLS Alumni Board was held on January 15, 2021. AJ Doucett, Director of Alumni Relations, said of the Board and first meeting,

“This Board consists of some of the most amazing people I have ever met. The underlying theme during the meeting was the fact that each member was so appreciative of what AJMLS offered them, how it prepared them for the practice of law, and that they were now honored to give back to their law school.”

“When asked, ‘Why did you join the AJMLS Alumni Board?’ they each in their own way embodied our hashtag of #AJMLSProud and want every current student to know why they should also be proud to be an AJMLS student.”

It is Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School’s honor to present to you its 2021 Alumni Association Board of Directors and Officers.

Officers

Randy Fry, Class of 1999, Chair

Where were you raised?

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

Belmont University, Bachelor of Business Administration

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

The Fry Law Firm; Trial Attorney/Owner; Personal Injury

What do you do in your free time?

I enjoy many fitness related activities including lifting weights, yoga, and hiking. I also love to read personal growth and finance books, travel to as many beaches as possible each year, and keep my french bulldog “Atticus Fry” entertained. Most importantly, I am fulfilled by working with special needs children and adults, staying active with my church, Buckhead Church, and spending time with my friends and family.

Why did you join the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors?

John Marshall took a chance on me, when many other law schools would not. I learned not only the theory of practicing law while a student at John Marshall, but how to put that into daily practice. I want to do all I can to encourage students, that with hard work and determination, success is in reach.

What do you want current AJMLS alumni and students to know about you?

I applied to 13 law schools; 12 would not give me a chance.  The world of academia has always been a challenge for me, but I did well in law school due to a supportive family, and working as a personal trainer in order to maintain my health, financial stability, and sanity. John Marshall gave me the opportunity, and I now have my dream job and career as the owner of a mid-sized personal injury law firm located in midtown Atlanta.

Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert, Class of 2012, Vice-Chair

Where were you raised?

Poughkeepsie, NY

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

Marist College in New York

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

I am the Owner/Founder of Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group. We Help People & Their Families Navigate The Insurance Process After They’ve Been Seriously Injured in an Accident.

What do you do in your free time?

Spend time with my husband and three kids, work out, study business, travel, and listen to podcasts.

Why did you join the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors?

To connect with the students

What do you want current AJMLS alumni and students to know about you?

I’m an eternal optimist. I’m still learning. There’s always a next level.

Yashica Marshall, Class of 2013, Secretary

Where were you raised?

Dublin, Georgia

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

MBS-Barry University, BS/Georgia College & State University

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

Director of Compliance & Risk Management at Morneau Shepell

What do you do in your free time?

My free time is generally spent preparing for my webcast, savoring a nice Pinot and trying to expand my foundational knowledge in areas that interest me.

Why did you join the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors?

I care about AJMLS. The people and times that I spent there have left a lasting impact on my life for which I am grateful. I hope by serving on the board I will have the opportunity to shape a different narrative about the school where everyone who passed through cares about it too.

What do you want current AJMLS alumni and students to know about you?

My dedication to the board is my personal dedication to them. I am available resource that is always willing and happy to help.

Evie Frye, Class of 2005, Treasurer

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

Senior Contract Negotiator at Intuitive

Members

Sonja Brown, Class of 2004

Where were you raised?

Freeport, Bahamas

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

Clark Atlanta University

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

Cobb County Magistrate Court – Judge

What do you do in your free time?

Spend time with my nieces and nephews, watch college football, teach Zumba, run, and spend time with friends.

Why did you join the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors?

To build a stronger connection between the students and alumni, and, to continue to raise the AJMLS profile in the Georgia legal community and beyond.

What do you want current AJMLS alumni and students to know about you?

I am committed to service, and believe that we are called to give back to the people and institutions who support us along our journey to success.

Tavis Knighten, Class of 2005

Where were you raised?

Northwest Ohio

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

College of the Holy Cross, Bachelor of Arts

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

Sr. Counsel, Insurance Litigation at Uber

What do you do in your free time?

Travel, DIY home projects

Why did you join the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors?

To help strengthen the AJMLS alumni network

What do you want current AJMLS alumni and students to know about you?

I am proud to be an AJMLS alumnus

DeAngelo Norris, Class of 2006

Where were you raised?

Monticello, Georgia

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

Presbyterian College (Clinton, SC)

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

Grady Memorial Hospital Corp. d/b/a Grady Health System Senior In house attorney that handles the full range of transactional, litigation, employment and other risk aversion legal needs for one of the largest teaching hospitals in the nation.

What do you do in your free time?

Beekeeper and drone flyer that enjoys college football on the side.

Why did you join the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors?

To connect current students to alumni and to help promote positive images of JMLS and it’s vital role in the community.

What do you want current AJMLS alumni and students to know about you?

That my journey of a million miles started with my first step at John Marshall and I enjoy giving back to current students who are taking their first steps.

Chad Dillard, Class of 2008

Where were you raised?

Lilburn, Georgia

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

University of Georgia

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

Chief Development Officer at United Way of Greater Atlanta

What do you do in your free time?

Fly-fish, read and spend time with family

Why did you join the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors?

I want to help foster supportive connections between AJMLS alumni.

Corey Martin, Class of 2009

Where were you raised?

North Courtland, Alabama

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

Excelsior College, B.S. Mathematics; Calhoun College, A.S. Mathematics and A.S General Education

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

I am the Managing Attorney at The Law Offices of Martin & Associates, Douglasville, GA. I practice Criminal Defense, Immigration and Personal Injury.

What do you do in your free time?

I like to watch movies and sports, spend time with the family, go for long rides in the convertible and go to comedy shows and car shows.

Why did you join the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors?

I wanted to give back to my law school in a way that would help to raise our profile in the community and to build relationships with other alumni.

What do you want current AJMLS alumni and students to know about you?

I am the Supervising Attorney for AJMLS’ Veteran’s Law Clinic at Fort McPherson. If anyone would like to Extern or Volunteer at the Law Clinic or at my Law Office, please contact me or Career Services and Professional Development.

Shilpa Jadwani, Class of 2012

Where were you raised?

I was raised in Gujrat India until I was 7, and then in South New Jersey.

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

Seton Hall University (Bachelor’s in Psychology & Legal Studies) & Fairleigh Dickenson University (Certificate in Paralegal Studies)

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

Owner and Managing Attorney at One Path Legal specializing in Immigration (nationwide), Family & Business Law (Georgia Only).

What do you do in your free time?

Bollywood Dancing

Why did you join the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors?

I would want the board and students to know that I love what I do, and I received all the connections, networks, and education that I needed to be successful in the profession from my days at AJMLS. I want to offer the same to the next generation and look forward to continuing to work with other AJMLS Alumni who have the same goals.

Samuel Samson Sykes II, Class of 2014

Where were you raised?

Atlanta, Georgia

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

Southern Methodist University, B.A. in Political Science

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

An Associate at Hall Booth Smith, P.C., focusing in general liability and insurance defense litigation.

What do you do in your free time?

Spend time with my family, watch Braves baseball, and play golf when I can.

Why did you join the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors?

To help promote the great education students receive at John Marshall, as well as to help current students find their own path to successful careers upon graduation.

What do you want current AJMLS alumni and students to know about you?

I am proud of my time at John Marshall, and have seen first hand how students from John Marshall are more prepared for the practice of law than many of their peers. I’m available anytime for mentorship and guidance to fellow John Marshall students/alumni, and will help to continue to build John Marshall’s reputation in the legal community.

Erik Provitt, Class of 2016

Where were you raised?

Detroit, Michigan

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

Troy University, MBA Management

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

Equifax- Identity and Fraud Consultant

What do you do in your free time?

Golf

Why did you join the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors?

I love the opportunity the school provided me and I want to help further its mission via a reengaged alumni board

What do you want current AJMLS alumni and students to know about you?

That “showing up ready to work” is my superpower. I’ll always be present and willing to help wherever I’m needed.

Maurice “Reece” Riden II, Class of 2018

Where were you raised?

Flowery Branch, GA

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education?

I completed my undergraduate at Emmanuel College( Franklin Springs, GA).

Where do you currently work, position, and responsibilities/area of practice?

I currently work at Groth & Makarenko as an Insurance Defense attorney specializing in auto collisions and premises liability.

What do you do in your free time?

I enjoy hiking, running, and cycling.

Why did you join the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors?

I am currently the youngest member on the AJMLS Alumni Board. I look forward to being able to help bridge the gap between the younger alumni and AJMLS.

What do you want current AJMLS alumni and students to know about you?

I am always willing to help any AJMLS student. I remember having several mentors while at AJMLS, and i look forward to being able to do the same for the next generation.

Bar Prep in February: Finish Epically

It’s hard to believe, but February is here! It is with that thought in mind that I share this quote with you:

Starting off strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.” ~Robin Sharma

This is a peculiar time of year. Those with their eyes forward on the February bar exam find themselves often wishing they had done more, whether it was starting studying earlier, devoting more hours, utilizing a different method, reading more outlines, doing more practice essays, reviewing more MPT’s, etc. I promise you that if you look back in time, you will always find the opportunity to have done something differently, wasting time and energy worrying over something that you cannot change.

Guess what? Right now, it does not matter. What you did in December and January is irrelevant in terms of what you will do in February. No matter what you have done well, poorly, or wish you had done differently, that time is in the past and it cannot be changed. Looking back on the past with wishes and regrets does nothing for you in the present. Your time to shine is now in the present.

Regardless of what you have done previously, whether you have performed beyond your wildest expectations or not engaged in the manner that you had hoped, that is all in the past. The only thing that you have control over is what you do moving forward.

I encourage you to take a moment today and re-dedicate yourself to your bar exam preparation. Commit to yourself now to make the most of each day between now and the bar exam. Do not waste a single day, and approach each and every day with an appreciation for the opportunity that it provides for you to learn and grow. 

Instead of looking back in a month and wishing that you had done more, do more. Rather than looking back in a month and wishing you had reviewed more essays, do so. Do not look back and wish you had engaged more with your outlines, but rather start engaging more today. This is your time, and you have to own it. You have to seize the opportunity that the next weeks provide, and use that time to lift yourself to bar exam success.

The only person who can ultimately be responsible for your success is you. Your bar prep programming, your academic supporters, your friends, your families – we are all rooting for you to be successful.

However, your destiny is in your hands. Only you control how much you put in, how hard you work, and how driven you will be for success.

Do not look back on this time and say, “I wish I had…” Look back on this time and know that you did everything in your power to be successful. You can do this. Work hard every single day. Finish epically!

AJMLS 1L, Dr. Rashad Richey, Named to Atlanta Magazine’s Atlanta 500

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates 1L student, Dr. Rashad Richey, for his recent honor of being named one of the most powerful leaders in Atlanta on Atlanta Magazine’s Atlanta 500 list.

Dr. Richey’s work ethic knows no bounds as he maintains numerous responsibilities during the day and is completing his J.D. after hours in the law school’s part-time evening program. Richey was voted “Best Talk Radio Personality in Atlanta” by readers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for his weekly morning show on News & Talk 1380-WAOK and named “Most Trusted Voice in Atlanta Radio” by readers of the Atlanta Business Journal. Rashad is also the Political Commentator for The People’s Station V-103, the nations’ largest urban station. When Rashad is not on radio, he’s on television as the Political Analyst for CBS 46 News and Peachtree TV Atlanta, where he provides insightful commentary, special reporting and breakdowns of local and national news. Rashad was nominated for an Emmy Award for his riveting television news coverage of a small Georgia town still dealing with the very real effects of racism and systemic segregation. Nationally, Rashad is a regular commentator on MSNBC and the Fox News Channel, providing insightful commentary on social justice and political matters. Beyond broadcasting, Rashad serves as the Chief Editor-At-Large and Sr. Writer for Rolling Out Magazine, which has a national millennial readership of 2.2 million and is the largest free print urban publication in America. 

Believing service is what connects humanity, Rashad serves on the Board of Directors for Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, Recovery Consultants of Atlanta (a federally funded drug treatment center and medical clinic), and Children’s Rights (a policy and legal advocacy organization dedicated to the rights of children). Rashad is also an active volunteer with STAND, Inc., Liberty Church Mentoring Program, and Fulton County CASA. 

After completing his doctoral studies at Clark Atlanta University, Rashad knew his next educational journey would be to dedicate himself to the study and ultimately the practice of law. Not to settle some intellectual curiosity, but to be a more fierce and equipped champion for disenfranchised communities.

Dr. Richey noted of his road to law school,

“I’m not the traditional law student. I have a busy schedule, studying and taking the LSAT was the last thing I wanted to add to my “to-do” list, but it was worth it. I come from very humble beginnings, overcame significant societal barriers and even made some mistakes along the way. While many would say these elements tend to hinder a person from going to law school, I believe it has propelled me on this journey.”

On how he chose Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School,

“When applying to various law schools, I knew my schedule would only allow for an evening program. My friend Kieth Gammage, who serves as the Fulton County Solicitor General gave me great advice and implored me to consider Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. I took his advice and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I also had many supporters in the legal community who guided me through the process and hold deep convictions about restorative justice; Chief Magistrate Judge Cassandra Kirk, Court of Appeals Judge Ken Hodges, Congressman Hank Johnson, and Judge Penny Brown Reynolds.”

Considering his future after graduation, Dr. Richey has a plan,

“Once I complete my law studies and pass the Georgia Bar, I plan to use my legal training to work on federal civil rights cases and ensure those who have been historically shut out of the legal process will have another ally in the profession.”

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is honored to be a part of Dr. Richey’s journey and we look forward to following his legal career and championing his work serving the community. Thank you, Atlanta Magazine, for celebrating his incredible leadership!

Bar Prep Motivation: Almost There

It is that time of year. Bar preparation has been in full swing for a good while now, and your motivation might begin lacking. You might be getting tired of reading, and the thought of writing another essay or doing another question set may seem like daunting tasks. You might be asking yourself when will you have done enough? How long do you need to keep working this hard?

My personal belief is that each and every day is an opportunity to grow and learn, and that this is no time to rest on your laurels. Now is the time to work even harder than you did previously. This is your time to achieve.

There is a (slightly modified) quote I love to share at this point in the bar preparation process, and it comes from Herodotus:

“Some people give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory, by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before.”

Let this quote define you and your efforts over the next few weeks. Over the past months you have been putting in the time and effort to pass the bar exam, and now you have almost reached the goal. However, now is not the time to take your foot off of the gas or slow down, but rather instead it is the time for you to redouble your efforts and exert even more. You can see the finish line, and although you may be fatigued and exhausted, you must push to cross that finish line and achieve the result you have dreamed of so often.

Work hard, and don’t leave anything in the proverbial gas tank. Do everything in your power to learn, take every opportunity to improve, practice often, and leave nothing on the table as you study and prepare for your future bar exam success.

This is your time. You are writing the story, and you control the narrative. Make your dream come true. Obtain your goal, achieve your victory, and pass the bar exam.

Bar Exam Motivation: MLK Day 2021

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Martin Luther King, Jr, once said the following:

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

On this day honoring and remembering him and his legacy, I encourage you to keep the above quote in mind as you go through your bar exam preparation. It is not how hard you study on any one day, how well you perform on a single quiz, or how eloquently you write a single essay that matters during this time. Rather, it is your consistent effort each day that ultimately will result in your success. You have to keep moving forward.

Some days you will perform well and you will fly high. Some days you will perform decently and feel as if you are running quickly towards success. Some days you will trudge at a frustratingly slow pace towards your goals. Some days you will crawl slowly forward, inching your way towards success. 

Regardless of whether you soar quickly in your learning or crawl towards knowledge painstakingly slowly, always remember to keep pushing yourself to continue to consistently move forward. Progress is progress, no matter the speed, and what matters is that you always stay in motion with your eyes on the prize. Believe in yourself and believe in your journey, because you can do this. Work hard each day to be successful on the bar exam, and you will never have to look back on this time with regret that you did not put forth your best effort.

Always keep moving forward towards the success that awaits you. I believe in you. You can pass the bar exam. Do whatever you have to do, but always keep moving forward.

AJMLS Dean, Jace C. Gatewood, Joins Law Deans in Joint Statement About the Election and Events at the Capitol

“In difficult times, such as the times we find ourselves in today, it may be necessary to speak in one collective voice so that all our voices are heard. As lawyers and future lawyers, we are in a unique position to have our voices heard the loudest. I hope you will find the joint statement of Law School deans signed by the deans of more than three-quarters of the nation’s law schools on the recent attempts to overturn the election to be a loud voice.”

– Jace C. Gatewood, Dean and CEO of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School

The following is a joint statement signed by 157 sitting law school deans. Written as a collaboration after a joint virtual meeting.

January 12, 2021

Law Deans Joint Statement on the 2020 Election and Events at the Capitol

We are deans of a diverse range of law schools across the country. We do not use our positions to advance our individual views. But we do have an obligation to support the rule of law and preserve the integrity of the legal profession. On rare occasions, despite our differing situations and views, that obligation requires us to speak as one to defend the fundamental commitments of our profession. This is such a moment.

The violent attack on the Capitol was an assault on our democracy and the rule of law. The effort to disrupt the certification of a free and fair election was a betrayal of the core values that undergird our Constitution. Lives were lost, the seat of our democracy was desecrated, and our country was shamed.

Many lawyers and judges worked honestly and in good faith, often in the face of considerable political pressure, to ensure the 2020 election was free and fair. However, we recognize with dismay and sorrow that some lawyers challenged the outcome of the election with claims that they did not support with facts or evidence. This betrayed the values of our profession. Our profession demands that when lawyers pursue legal action, they must bring claims in good faith, grounded in facts and evidence, and demonstrate respect for the legal system. Only then can lawyers fulfill their responsibilities as lawyers and public citizens to promote public confidence in the rule of law and the justice system — duties that extend to all professional activities, whether lawyers are representing a client or not. The rule of law is as much a touchstone of our profession as it is of our Constitution.

As law deans, our mission is to train the next generation of leaders to uphold the core values of our profession and sustain the rule of law. This should be a moment of reflection for legal educators and members of the legal profession. A sustained effort will be necessary to repair and preserve our precious democratic institutions. As legal educators and lawyers ourselves, we must redouble our efforts to restore faith in the rule of law and the ideals of the legal profession. We have enormous faith in the law’s enduring values and in our students, who will soon lead this profession. We call upon all members of the legal profession to join us in the vital work ahead.

Signed,

Alicia Ouellette
President and Dean
Albany Law School

Robert Dinerstein
Acting Dean and Professor of Law
American University, Washington College of Law

Jace C. Gatewood
Dean and CEO
Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School

Melanie Leslie
Dean and Samuel Belkin Professor of Law
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University

Vincent Rougeau
Dean and Professor
Boston College Law School

Angela Onwuachi-Willig
Dean and Professor of Law
Boston University School of Law

Michael T. Cahill
President, Joseph Crea Dean & Professor of Law
Brooklyn Law School

Sean M. Scott
President and Dean
California Western School of Law

J. Rich Leonard
Dean
Campbell Law School

Reynaldo Anaya Valencia
Dean and Professor of Law
Capital University Law School

Anita K. Krug
Dean and Professor
Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology

Charles H. Rose III
Dean and Professor of Law
Claude W. Pettit College of Law, Ohio Northern University

Lee Fisher
Dean and Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University

Gillian Lester
Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law
Columbia Law School

Jens David Ohlin
Interim Dean & Professor of Law
Cornell Law School

Joshua P. Fershée
Dean and Professor of Law
Creighton University School of Law

Henry C. Strickland
Dean
Cumberland School of Law, Samford University

Mary Lu Bilek
Dean and Professor of Law
CUNY School of Law

Rodney A. Smolla
Dean & Professor of Law
Delaware Law School, Widener University

Jennifer Rosato Perea
Dean and Professor
DePaul University College of Law

Jerry L. Anderson
Dean and Richard M. and Anita Calkins Distinguished Professor of Law
Drake University Law School

Kerry Abrams
James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean and Professor of Law
Duke University School of Law

April M. Barton
Dean and Professor of Law
Duquesne University School of Law

Leticia M. Diaz
Dean and Professor of Law
Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law, Barry University

Horace Anderson
Dean and Professor of Law
Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University

Luke Bierman
Dean and Professor of Law
Elon University School of Law

Mary Anne Bobinski
Dean and Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law
Emory University School of Law

Deidré A. Keller
Dean and Professor of Law
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University College of Law

C. Peter Goplerud
Dean and Professor of Law
Florida Coastal School of Law

Antony Page
Dean & FIU Foundation Professor of Law
Florida International University College of Law

Erin O’Hara O’Connor
Dean and McKenzie Professor of Law
Florida State University College of Law

Matthew Diller
Dean and Paul Fuller Professor of Law
Fordham University School of Law

William M. Treanor
Dean & Executive Vice President
Georgetown Law

Leslie E. Wolf
Interim Dean and Distinguished University Professor
Georgia State University College of Law

Eric C. Christiansen
Dean of the Law School (Interim, 2020-21), Professor of Law
Golden Gate University, School of Law

Jacob Rooksby
Dean and Professor of Law
Gonzaga University School of Law

John F. Manning
Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law
Harvard Law School

Danielle Holley-Walker
Dean and Professor of Law
Howard University School of Law

Austen Parrish
Dean and James H. Rudy Professor of Law
Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Karen E. Bravo
Dean and Professor of Law
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Gordon Smith
Dean and Woodruff J. Deem Professor of Law
J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University

Jennifer J. Johnson
Dean and Erskine Wood Sr. Professor of Law
Lewis and Clark Law School

Matthew R. Lyon
Vice President & Dean
Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law

Colin Crawford
Dean and Professor of Law
Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville

Lee Ann Wheelis Lockridge
Interim Dean and Professor of Law
Louisiana State University Law Center

Michael Waterstone
Dean and Professor of Law
Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

Michael J. Kaufman
Dean and Professor of Law
Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Madeleine M. Landrieu
Dean and Judge Adrian G. Duplantier Distinguished Professor of Law
Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Gail Prudenti
Dean
Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University

Cathy Cox
Dean and Professor of Law
Mercer University School of Law

Lincoln L. Davies
Dean & Frank R. Strong Chair in Law
Michael E. Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University

Melanie B. Jacobs
Interim Dean & Professor of Law
Michigan State University College of Law

Patricia Bennett
Dean & Professor of Law
Mississippi College School of Law

Anthony Niedwiecki
President and Dean
Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Scott P. Brown
President and Dean
New England Law/Boston

Anthony W. Crowell
Dean and President
New York Law School

Trevor Morrison
Dean and Eric M. and Laurie B. Roth Professor of Law
New York University School of Law

James Hackney
Dean and Professor of Law
Northeastern University School of Law

Cassandra L. Hill
Dean and Professor of Law
Northern Illinois University College of Law

James Speta
Interim Dean
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

José Roberto (Beto) Juárez, Jr.
Dean and Professor of Law
Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law

Jim Roth
Dean and Professor of Law
Oklahoma City University School of Law

Danielle M. Conway
Dean and Donald J. Farage Professor of Law
Penn State Dickinson Law

Hari M. Osofsky
Dean, Penn State Law and Penn State School of International Affairs
Distinguished Professor of Law, Professor of International Affairs, and Professor of Geography

Paul L. Caron
Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and Professor of Law
Pepperdine University Rick J. Caruso School of Law

Fernando Moreno Orama
Dean
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico

Jennifer Gerarda Brown
Dean and Professor of Law
Quinnipiac University School of Law

Gregory W. Bowman
Dean & Professor of Law
Roger Williams University School of Law

David Lopez
Co-Dean & Professor of Law
Rutgers Law School

Kimberly M. Mutcherson
Co-Dean & Professor of Law
Rutgers Law School

Elizabeth Kronk Warner
Dean
S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah

William P. Johnson
Dean and Professor of Law
Saint Louis University School of Law

Judith Daar
Ambassador Patricia L. Herbold Dean and Professor of Law
Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University

Douglas J. Sylvester
Dean and Professor of Law
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University

Anna M. Han
Interim Dean
Santa Clara University School of Law

Camille M. Davidson
Dean and Professor of Law
School of Law, Southern Illinois University

Martin H. Brinkley
Dean and Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor
School of Law, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Annette E. Clark
Dean and Professor of Law
Seattle University School of Law

Kathleen M. Boozang
Dean and Professor of Law
Seton Hall University School of Law

Jennifer M. Collins
Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law
SMU Dedman School of Law

John Pierre
Chancellor
Southern University Law Center

Susan Westerberg Prager
President and Dean
Southwestern Law School

Michael A. Simons
Dean and John V. Brennan Professor of Law
St. John’s University School of Law

Jenny S. Martinez
Richard E. Lang Professor of Law & Dean
Stanford Law School

Michèle Alexandre
Dean and Professor of Law
Stetson University College of Law

Andrew Perlman
Dean & Professor of Law
Suffolk University Law School

Craig M. Boise
Dean and Professor of Law
Syracuse University College of Law

Gregory N. Mandel
Dean & Peter J. Liacouras Professor of Law
Temple University, Beasley School of Law

Dayna Bowen Matthew
Dean and Harold H. Greene Professor of Law
The George Washington University Law School

Christopher J. (C.J.) Peters
Dean and C. Blake McDowell, Jr. Professor of Law
The University of Akron School of Law

Mark E. Brandon
Dean and Thomas E. McMillan Professor of Law
The University of Alabama School of Law

Katharine Traylor Schaffzin
Dean & Professor of Law
The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

Sergio Pareja
Dean
The University of New Mexico School of Law

Benjamin Barros
Dean and Professor of Law
The University of Toledo College of Law

Lyn Suzanne Entzeroth
Dean and Dean John Rogers Endowed Chair
The University of Tulsa College of Law

Daniel M. Filler
Dean and Professor of Law
Thomas R. Kline School of Law, Drexel University

Elena B. Langan
Dean and Professor of Law
Touro Law Center

David D. Meyer
Dean and Mitchell Franklin Professor of Law
Tulane University Law School

Theresa Beiner
Dean & Nadine Baum Distinguished Professor of Law
UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law

Kevin R. Johnson
Dean
UC Davis School of Law

Jennifer L. Mnookin
Dean and Ralph and Shirley Shapiro Professor of Law
UCLA School of Law

Darby Dickerson
Dean and Professor of Law
UIC John Marshall Law School, The University of Illinois at Chicago

Barbara Glesner Fines
Dean & Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law
UMKC School of Law

Aviva Abramovsky
Dean and Professor of Law
University at Buffalo School of Law, The State University of New York

Marc L. Miller
Dean & Ralph W. Bilby Professor of Law
University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

Margaret Sova McCabe
Dean & Professor of Law
University of Arkansas School of Law

Ronald Weich
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Baltimore School of Law

David L. Faigman
Chancellor & Dean and John F. Digardi Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California Hastings College of the Law

Erwin Chemerinsky
Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California, Berkeley School of Law

L. Song Richardson
Dean and Chancellor’s Professor of Law
University of California, Irivine School of Law

Thomas J. Miles
Dean and Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics
University of Chicago Law School

Verna L. Williams
Dean and Nippert Professor of Law
University of Cincinnati College of Law

S. James Anaya
Dean and University Distinguished Professor
University of Colorado Law School

Eboni S. Nelson
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Connecticut School of Law

Andrew Strauss
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Dayton School of Law

Bruce P. Smith
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Phyllis L. Crocker
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

Laura Ann Rosenbury
Dean and Levin, Mabie & Levin Professor of Law
University of Florida Levin College of Law

Peter B. Rutledge
Dean
University of Georgia School of Law

Camille A. Nelson
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, William S. Richardson School of Law

Leonard M. Baynes
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Houston Law Center

Jerrold Long
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Idaho College of Law

Vikram David Amar
Dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law
University of Illinois College of Law

Stephen W. Mazza
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Kansas School of Law

Mary J. Davis
Dean and Ashland-Spears Distinguished Research Professor of Law
University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law

Donald B. Tobin
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Eric J. Mitnick
Dean & Professor of Law
University of Massachusetts School of Law

Anthony E. Varona
Dean and M. Minnette Massey Professor of Law
University of Miami School of Law

Mark D. West
Dean and Nippon Life Professor of Law
University of Michigan Law School

Garry W. Jenkins
Dean & William S. Pattee Professor of Law
University of Minnesota Law School

Susan H. Duncan
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Mississippi

Lyrissa Lidsky
Dean & Judge C.A. Leedy Professor of Law
University of Missouri School of Law

Richard Moberly
Dean and Richard C. & Catherine S. Schmoker Professor of Law
University of Nebraska College of Law

Daniel W. Hamilton
Dean & Richard J. Morgan Professor of Law
University of Nevada, Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law

Megan Carpenter
Dean and Professor of Law
University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law

Michael S. McGinniss
Dean and Professor of Law
University of North Dakota School of Law

Katheleen R. Guzman
Interim Dean and Professor
University of Oklahoma College of Law

Marcilynn A. Burke
Dean and Dave Frohnmayer Chair in Leadership and Law
University of Oregon School of Law

Theodore W. Ruger
Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law
University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Amy J. Wildermuth
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Vivian I. Neptune
Dean
University of Puerto Rico School of Law

Wendy C. Perdue
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Richmond School of Law

Robert Schapiro
Dean and Professor of Law
University of San Diego School of Law

Susan H. Freiwald
Dean and Professor of Law
University of San Francisco School of Law

William C. Hubbard
Dean and Professor of Law
University of South Carolina School of Law

Neil Fulton
Dean
University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law

Andrew T. Guzman
Dean and Carl Mason Franklin Chair in Law, and Professor of Law and Political Science
University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Robert K. Vischer
Dean and Mengler Chair in Law
University of St. Thomas School of Law

Douglas Blaze
Interim Dean and Art Stolnitz and E.O. Overton Professor of Law
University of Tennessee College of Law

Renée McDonald Hutchins
Dean & Rauh Chair of Public Interest Law
University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law

Michael Hunter Schwartz
Dean and Professor of Law
University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Risa Goluboff
Dean and Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law and Professor of History
University of Virginia School of Law

Mario L. Barnes
Toni Rembe Dean and Professor of Law
University of Washington School of Law

Daniel P. Tokaji
Fred W. & Vi Miller Dean and Professor of Law
University of Wisconsin Law School

Klint Alexander
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Wyoming College of law

Chris Guthrie
Dean
Vanderbilt Law School

Thomas McHenry
President and Dean
Vermont Law School

Mark C. Alexander
Arthur J. Kania Dean and Professor of Law
Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

Jane H Aiken
Dean and Professor of Law
Wake Forest Law School

Carla D. Pratt
Dean and Professor of Law
Washburn University School of Law

Brant J. Hellwig
Dean and Professor of Law
Washington and Lee University School of Law

Nancy Staudt
Dean and Howard & Caroline Cayne Distinguished Professor of Law
Washington University School of Law

Richard A. Bierschbach
Dean and Professor of Law
Wayne State University Law School

James McGrath
Dean and President
Western Michigan University Cooley Law School

Sudha Setty
Dean and Professor of Law
Western New England University School of Law

Allen K. Easley
Dean & Professor of Law
Western State College of Law at Westcliff University

Brian Gallini
Dean & Professor of Law
Willamette University College of Law

A. Benjamin Spencer
Dean & Chancellor Professor
William & Mary Law School

John E. Taylor
Interim Dean and Jackson Kelly Professor of Law
WVU College of Law

Heather K. Gerken
Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law
Yale Law School

Bar Prep Advice: It’s Okay to Hate Bar Prep

One thing you may not know about me is that I am a huge fan of sports – all sports – from the mainstream to the obscure, I really enjoy the thrill of both competing personally and watching others in their athletic pursuits. As you also may or may not know, I’m in the midst of recovering from a pretty horrific mountain bike accident that I experienced during my race training in October 2019, and, have recently had multiple surgeries to put ol’ Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Today, I was thinking about how far I have to go on my comeback trail, and wondering if I’m ever going to be able to race again. I was thinking about the state championships I won previously, how out of shape I am now in comparison, and just dreading the idea of getting my arm out of this sling and beginning the dreaded process of training. I was full of self-doubt, anxiety, and concerns that I’ll never be successful again in the future, but I was also filled with the overwhelming thought of how much I hate training. I wondered if it is even possible for me to ever be successful on the trails again, and that also makes the idea of training even more difficult. This is not to mention that I am also worried about my skills deteriorating, and whether I will ever feel confident and capable enough to ride again.

Why am I telling you all of this personal information? How does this relate to you and your bar motivation? Like me, you may be feeling discouraged, and the thought of another day, week, or even month of bar prep may seem overwhelming and daunting. You may be exhausted, and saying to yourself each day, “I HATE BAR PREP!” You may wonder if you can pull this off, and your dread of the day to day may really be weighing you down.

I’m here to tell you that it is okay to hate bar prep, and that liking bar prep isn’t a prerequisite to being successful. Rather, it is what you do after you make that statement that matters.

In fact, it is the next step that I took today that I want to highlight, and I encourage you to do the same thing whenever you are faltering. I pulled this quote out from Muhammad Ali, who once said, “I hate every minute of training. But I said, don’t quit. Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.” 

I felt my anxiety drop today about my recovery when I read that quote because I then remembered that it is okay to hate training. Training isn’t the goal, it’s just a necessary part of the journey. Success in daily pursuing your goals, working hard to give yourself a fighting chance, and knowing that you did everything possible to win – all of these things require that training must be endured. Nothing says that you have to like it or that you can’t get tired of it, but rather what matters is perseverance. Reading that quote reminded me that I’m going to be tired and frustrated, that I am not always going to enjoy the process, but the process is important if I want to be successful and ever have the opportunity to achieve my goals and realize my dreams. I also remembered that there is a reason I mountain bike, I love a lot of things about it beyond racing, and recognized that I am getting too caught up in thinking about a binary event that is taking away from my focus on my daily recovery. I need to live in the present and focus now, versus being worried about the future.

This mentality applies directly toward bar preparation. Although there are undoubtedly aspects of the law that you will enjoy during the process, other aspects will feel like a grind and you will struggle at times to force yourself through your daily activities. Every video that you watch takes effort, every multiple-choice question that you carefully review and study will require concentration, and each essay will engage your mental faculties in ways that can leave you exhausted. Like me, you may find your tasks daunting, and you may hate the thought of another day of studying. In essence, you may find yourself like Ali hating every minute of training and preparation. You may worry so much about the future exam that you fail to recognize the leaps and bounds in learning that you are achieving each and every day.

I encourage you to keep Muhammad Ali’s words in mind and realize that this is all okay. Your feelings about your day-to-day activities, your short-term stumbles, and your mental fatigue may all lead to you hating your own bar exam “training.” These thoughts are normal for everyone, and even the greatest of champions feels this way, so you shouldn’t expect yourself to feel any differently.

However, remember what he said, “…don’t quit. Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.” Put your hard work in now, study outlines, practice, write and review essays, and do everything in your power to be successful no matter how hard it is each day. Work hard, and pass the bar exam. Train now, to later become a bar pass champion. Focus on what you need to be successful each day and accomplish your tasks for that day, and whether you find yourself hating bar prep or not, you will assuredly find yourself on the road to improvement and eventual success.

Work hard. Train hard. Be a champion like Ali. You can do this. You will never look back and regret trying your best, but if you do not put forth your best, you will live your life with regret.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Enters 2021 as a 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Law School

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is delighted to start the New Year as a qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt Law School following its conversion effective January 1, 2021.

The Law School was founded as a nonprofit in 1933, and its recent conversion is a welcome new beginning and homecoming to its original roots. The change in status will not impact its students and will be a seamless transition for its employees. “The process of converting to 501(c)(3) status has been a long time in the making and we see nothing but positive outcomes as a result of our new status. I am extremely excited for the future of the Law School and the enormous potential benefits to our students under the new status change,” said AJMLS’s Dean Jace C. Gatewood.

The Law School will now be operated by Atlanta Law Center, Inc., a Georgia nonprofit corporation doing business as Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.

Dr. Michael C. Markovitz, Chairman of the Board, commented, “John Marshall Law School was founded in 1933 as a nonprofit institution with the specific mission of providing legal education for those underserved by the then existing establishment. That mission has continued uninterrupted to this day. In the mid-nineties, the Law School faced the possibility of failure. I was fortunately able to intercede then with economic assistance, and, with the help of our board, faculty and staff, and our many friends in the community, including the Georgia Supreme Court, the Law School was able to obtain both American Bar Association accreditation and financial stability.” He goes on to say, “I am now delighted that my initial goals have been realized and the Law School can once again become a true community asset, functioning as a fully qualified 501(c)(3) able to accept charitable gifts and donations in furtherance of its mission.”

A full-circle moment of pride has also been realized by long-time professor and administrator, Robert D’Agostino, who will celebrate 27 years with the institution this year. Professor D’Agostino was Dean of the Law School in the 1990’s and recalls, “In 1999, the school was in dire need of a major capital infusion. Dr. Michael Markovitz recognized AJMLS’s potential as a community oriented school. He had the foresight, the educational commitment, and access to the finances to support the Law School’s vision. The transition to a for profit status allowed AJMLS to rely on the financial strength of the Markovitz’s family business interests which also included a well-respected educational component. I look back on those times, and recognize that the school would not have survived without Dr. Markovitz. AJMLS now transitions back to a 501(c)(3) law school financially stronger with an excellent faculty, and strong internal leadership.”

The newly appointed Chief Development Officer of AJMLS, Wendy Aina, will now be responsible for planning and implementing strategies to secure donors and contributions in support of the Law School and the John Marshall Law School Foundation. She will also provide oversight of the fund development program, monitor development activities, and address issues to enhance growth and success. “We are really excited about the new 501(c)(3) status” said Aina, “and the opportunity to provide more opportunities for our students. Community and alumni support benefits our students, programs and continues to promote our educational mission. The Law School looks forward to building lasting relationships with and providing services to the Law School’s outstanding local and international alumni base.”

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School looks forward to serving the Atlanta community for another 88 years and longer.

Learn Hearsay the Easy Way: 7 Simple Steps

Introduction

When it comes to the bar exam, one of the areas that students struggle with the most is evidence, and within that topic the biggest struggle seems to occur in the world of hearsay. This article will teach you how to take hearsay from an area of concern into an area you look forward to, by providing guidance on how to handle this area of the black letter law (for purposes of this writing, all references refer to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (‘FRCP’)).

At first glance, hearsay can be overwhelming. After all, when it comes to the topic of hearsay, there are seemingly an endless array of definitions, exemptions (referred to as exclusions in FRCP 801), exceptions, and possibilities for potential questions and answers. However, I’m here to tell you today that hearsay is actually not that complicated, and as long as you follow these seven simple steps you will be able to do well when it comes to hearsay on the bar exam.

1. You must know the terminology. 

Quite simply, you have to know what a statement is, who falls under the definition of a declarant, the definition of hearsay, and always be on the lookout for whether the statement is being made in court or was made out of court. This is the foundation of everything, and if you consistently overlook the basics, you will struggle, guaranteed. You must memorize these definitions verbatim and always be aware of who the declarant is and where the referenced statement took place.

2. You must understand hearsay and the rationale behind its potential exclusion.

What is hearsay? Broadly speaking, hearsay is an out of court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted. As such, it is generally inadmissible unless an exception or an exemption applies.

You have to know that definition, but you also must understand why hearsay is potentially problematic in court. Imagine how unreliable the judicial process would become if anyone could come into a court and claim that they heard someone say something without proffering proof. What if someone misremembers? What if someone intentionally lies? This is the whole point of the rule against hearsay, in that the law strives to prevent unreliable or unprovable out of court statements from being used as evidence in court.

The best way I have found to teach students this rationale is to have them take on the mindset of a party in a trial. Imagine how it would feel to have hearsay be used as evidence against you without limit. Anyone could walk in and say whatever they wanted, claiming to have heard you say something or claiming to have said something, and offer it as truth of the matter asserted against you. The courts would potentially be filled with make-believe lawsuits, prosecutors would be able to get convictions based on the flimsiest of basis, and our judicial system would fall into turmoil. No one would be safe! You can also flip this around and place yourself in the mindset of the prosecutor or plaintiff, and just imagine what things could come into court that would prevent any successful court appearance because the defendant would be able to bring any number of people in to refute most evidence.

All of that said, you must also understand that despite this underlying rationale regarding hearsay, there is a competing rationale to allow credible evidence into court. This is the basis for the exemptions and exceptions to the rule against hearsay, where courts have more than just a statement to rely upon, and instead can somewhat lean on the surrounding circumstances that make the statement more likely to be reliable. And, this leads us to step #3.

3. You must think about the circumstances surrounding the potential hearsay. 

Do these circumstances in the fact pattern tend to lend credibility to the statement or make it more reliable? If so, it makes it much more likely to come in under an exception or an exemption. Alternatively, if the circumstances seem to indicate no increase in credibility, or seem to add nothing to giving a sense that the statement is more reliable, your odds of such a statement being admitted decrease. This can serve as an early warning radar to help point you in the right direction when it comes to selecting the proper answer.

4. You must divide and conquer.

One of the issues that I consistently see students struggling with is keeping track of the relatively long list of exemptions and exceptions when it comes to determining whether or not a statement is hearsay, whether it falls under an exemption, or whether an exception is required.

However, I’m here to tell you that there is a relatively easy way to handle this with relatively little additional effort on your party. All you need to do is divide hearsay into three categories, and you will soon be able to confidently handle this material. The first thing you do is take three separate papers (or pages in your document, but I recommend separate papers) and create broad overview sheets. Label them as Hearsay Exemptions (things that would be hearsay but-for (as mentioned previously, sometimes referred to sometimes as exclusions)), Hearsay Exceptions: Declarant Unavailable, and Hearsay Exceptions: Declarant May or May Not Be Available.

After you make these headings, the next step is to fill in under each heading the full list of what falls under each. The idea is that you create a very basic, one to two-line indicator of what falls under each heading (labeled a., b., c. or 1, 2, 3). After you finish this task, I recommend that you then count everything that falls under each specific heading, and place the total number applicable in parentheses next to each heading. Next, I suggest that you color code each of three three categories and each indicator. Example: Hearsay Exemptions (8).

5. You must take the time to learn and memorize!

Now that you have your lists made, the next step is to work on learning and memorization. This is one of those areas of that law for the bar exam where memorization is especially important, so you want to proceed with a plan. First, take each of your headings and short indicators from your overview sheet and expound upon them in a different document or on a different page.  (You’ll want to keep your initial list relatively clear for memorization of what is under each category). Specifically, you want to go beyond the topical nomenclature and dive into the exact elements of these exemptions and exceptions. I highly recommend that you separate your work into three separate sections, piles, or documents (depending on your strategy and preferred methodology). Color code each page and part of your list according to the broad overview heading that it falls under (this will help you keep track of what you are working on and learning, making it easier to apply and retain). It is very important to memorize each and every element of each exemption and exception, as most bar exam questions come down to a missing element being the difference between an answer that is right and one that is wrong.

Now, you are set to begin the next aspect of learning through memorization, which occurs through repetition and review. Although normally trying to learn hearsay can feel overwhelming, now that you have divided it into categories you will find that you are able to concentrate on one of the three specific areas, boosted by the knowledge of how many exemptions or rules should fall under each heading, and with the color code assisting you as a reminder. You can also make your own mnemonics (make them personal to better remember). Additionally, you should either bring with you or make copies of your initial overview list, and you should review them on a regular basis. This will help you learn the law, create a manageable approach to this important topic, and help you also to keep track of which things should be under each category heading. Put some time into this, and you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you develop this knowledge.

Bonus tip for flashcard lovers: Although I seldom recommend bar students reinvent the wheel outside of their commercial courses, this is one area where I do highly recommend making your own flashcards. It’s a relatively small amount of flashcards, and if you ensure that you keep the heading, full exemption or exception (broken down into all elements), and color code this side of the flashcard, you’ll find that this builds nicely on the above.

6. You must make examples and engage with practice questions.

There are three final tasks in terms of becoming strong in this area of the law, assuming you have engaged in everything I have suggested. The first is to personally create one or two examples under each exemption or exception that will help you learn and understand the material. Next, whenever you are engaging in practice questions (which you should be doing regularly and with purpose), make note under your own examples of examples you see in questions to build your pattern recognition and cognitive abilities to increase awareness of pitfalls and red herrings. The last must-do is that whenever you stumble with a question, you must then engage directly with your created hearsay review materials to increase your memorization and understanding (for example, if you missed an element, work on memorization for that exception or exemption).

7. You must continuously review on a weekly basis.

You should never be “done” when it comes to studying for the bar exam, and hearsay is no exception. After you find that you have mastered the materials, make sure that you schedule at least a 2-3 times short review of the materials that you have created and continue to work on some practice questions. This will ensure long-term retention and increase your ability to find the correct answer.

Conclusion

If you do everything that I’ve written here, you will be able to confidently approach and get correct multiple-choice hearsay questions, while also improving any relevant essays that you may encounter on the bar exam. Your confidence, performance, and knowledge will grow rapidly, and you absolutely will improve your performance in this area. Try these techniques, and I am certain that you will see rapid improvement after you put in the time and work following the steps put forth here. Good luck, and I encourage you to reach out to me and let me know about your improvements and success!

Failed the Bar Exam? Don’t Worry. It’s Going to Be Okay.

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” 

~Winston Churchill

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and John F. Kennedy, Jr., all have something in common – they failed the bar exam. The fact of the matter is, no matter how smart you are, how hard you study, or what great things you are destined for, sometimes you fail the bar exam. Sometimes, in fact, you’ll fail it more than once.

The important thing to remember is that this is not the end. Just as success on the bar exam would not be your final step on the path towards being a practicing attorney, failure is not the end nor is it fatal to your chances of becoming a lawyer. Instead, failure on the exam is a momentary setback, but it does not have to, and should not, end your journey. You can, regardless of anything that has happened before this moment, pass the bar exam in the future and fulfill your dream of being a licensed, practicing attorney.

But, let’s take a moment and be realistic. If you are reading this right now, the odds are that you do not feel very good about yourself or your odds for future success. You are disappointed, upset, possibly questioning your life decisions, your study habits, your intellectual abilities, and may also perhaps be facing a whole host of other overwhelming doubts and fears that have been lurking in the dark recesses of your mind as you awaited your results. The notification from your respective board of examiners that you failed the bar exam hurts. It makes you feel like you let yourself down, like you disappointed friends, family members, employers, and all kinds of other people that you felt had some type of investment in your success. Right now, you are likely in a dark place, and it may feel hopeless. You may feel like your dreams are dashed, all hope is lost, and that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. This is natural. This is okay.

However, as I referenced above, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, the good news is that you aren’t at the end of the tunnel at all. As a specific reference, I’ll tell you about one of the numerous times that I was on the subway in NYC and we came to a halt between station stops. The power then shut off on the train. Darkness was all around us, it felt like I couldn’t breathe, and whether it was seconds or minutes (or once it actually lasted an hour), it felt like time had ceased moving and I was going to be trapped in that moment of darkness forever. 

Guess what though? The train got moving again, and although I was delayed and felt powerless when that subway car was sitting in that dark tunnel, everything worked out and I got to my destination. The same is going to be true for you. You are going to escape this time of self-doubt, anxiety, and worry, and you will be successful on the bar exam. Sometimes a journey does not go exactly as planned, but that does not mean that you will not reach your destination.

I do not have to personally know you to say this. I do not have to know your score, have ever seen a writing sample of your work, or listened to you discuss torts until I want to accuse you of battery upon my ears. It doesn’t matter whether you failed by a few points or by a lot. The fact of the matter is that you can pass the bar exam. 

I’ve seen people fail multiple times, but ultimately be successful. I have seen people on the verge of giving up, who then choose to give it one more try and really buckle down, and then put the time, work, and effort in to be successful. In the end, I have seen it pay off. I have seen them pass the bar exam. You can pass the bar exam as well.

That is what I am telling you today. You can make changes, adapt, work harder, differently, or utilize different techniques. You can study more, do more practice questions, write and review more essays, or work on more performance tests. You are not stuck in this moment. You are merely at a pause, and when you start your journey again you have control of your own success. It is up to you to dedicate yourself to working hard and holding yourself accountable. It is up to you to utilize the resources provided to you by your school and to let the people who care about you assist you, mentor you, tutor you, and guide you. I believe in you.

I also want to make sure that you know that the people at your law school believe in you. Here in Academic Achievement and Bar Success (AABS), we are all here because we are passionate about seeing our students successful, and because we believe that you can and will achieve. The Deans, professors, staff, and alumni all believe in you, and we all want you to be successful. 

Personally speaking, I care about your goals and I am passionate about your legal career dreams. Your ultimate success fuels the fire of the passion that brought me here, and my favorite aspect of being the Director of AABS is when I see someone graduate law school, pass the bar exam, and celebrate all the hard work and dedication paying off. The joy of seeing someone pass the bar exam never gets old to me, and each time a student gets that ‘pass notification’ is equally amazing to me and also makes me appreciate the astounding amount of time, work, diligence, and effort that goes well beyond that individual’s success at that one moment. It encompasses the realized hopes and dreams of families, represents overcoming obstacles, following passions, and is the crowning achievement of your law school career as you transition into your professional role. I want you to feel the joy that comes with passing the bar exam.

Over the next few days, you will be hearing from me personally about assisting you as you prepare for the next exam, but I wanted to remind you today that you are not alone. I believe in you. The school administration, faculty, and our alumni believe in you. We are to do everything in our power and work with you to help you be successful.

Relax and breathe. Prepare to re-dedicate and perhaps try new things that are outside your comfort zone. Take it easy on yourself and realize that you are not alone, even though it often feels that way, and know that someday this will likely be a story you tell to an aspiring law school graduate about how you overcame adversity and this obstacle (and others) to ultimately realize success. Rest now, recuperate, and be prepared to come out with your best efforts for the next round. Your fight isn’t over. Be courageous, and continue forward.

*One final note: sometimes, finding out that you were unsuccessful on the bar exam can be especially overwhelming, and you may find that you need to seek professional help to deal with your troubling thoughts, anxieties, or worries. I highly encourage you to remember that AJMLS has resources, that there are professionals that are only a click or a call away, and that this time of seeming despair will pass. The unfortunate thing getting through something and processing is that it takes time, but everything will be okay. However, if you find yourself considering hurting yourself, please know that you can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255), utilize the lawyer’s assistance program in your state, call a friend, or even dial 911 if you are in crisis. The bar exam results in the now do not define your tomorrow, so take a deep breath and know that everything will be okay. I promise.

Monday Motivation: Woman Takes Bar Exam While in Labor, Gives Birth, then Finishes the Exam the Next Day – and Passes!

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Happy Monday! I hope that this Monday following this all-too-short weekend finds you healthy, well-rested, and with your eyes firmly on the prize of your ultimate goal – passing the bar exam!

There are a variety of factors and obstacles that can impact your journey towards success, and one of the things that I always try to make abundantly clear to examinees is that with determination and grit, you can overcome anything and be successful. In order to highlight this, today I wanted to share a story with you about a woman who graduated from Loyola University School of Law.

When Brianna Hill was originally scheduled to take the July UBE bar exam in Illinois, she knew there would be challenges with being around 28 weeks pregnant. However, with all of the uncertainty around COVID-19 and the challenges surrounding a safe exam administration, the exam ended up getting pushed to October. Suddenly, that manageable 28-week pregnancy was going to be a 38-week pregnancy. Determined to success with her goals and motivated to become an attorney, Brianna pushed on and was ready for on October 5, 2020, the first day of the two-day test period.

The remote exam in Illinois was divided into 4 90-minute sections, and 30 minutes into the test Brianna felt a sensation that led her to think, “I really hope my water didn’t just break.” However, due to the exam software proctoring, she couldn’t even get up to go to the bathroom and check. Clearly, this was an opportunity to panic and abandon the exam, but Brianna held fast to her ambitions and dreams, persevering until the break. 

During the break, Brianna realized that her water had indeed broken, and called her husband, midwife, mom, did some crying, but after some discussion around her current state, realized that she had some time before she needed to be at the hospital. Incredibly, Brianna decided to complete the second 90-minute section in the afternoon, before then heading to the hospital where she arrived around 5:30pm. A little under 5 hours later, Brianna and her husband welcomed a new baby boy to the world.

This story could stop right here and already be pretty inspiring, but Brianna, with the support of hospital staff and family, decided to finish the bar exam the following day. Having just given birth, and aware of the strict requirements of the bar examiners, the hospital provided Brianna with a private room, hung a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the entrance, and fully supported her finishing the exam. You may be wondering about the new baby boy during all this, and amazingly, Brianna was feeding the baby during breaks!

Months later, Brianna got news that probably wasn’t quite as exciting as the birth of a new baby, but had to be satisfying in an entirely different way. Last week, Brianna found out that she passed the Illinois Bar Exam! Can you imagine overcoming all of that, successfully performing on the test despite giving birth, changing locations, and literally having all of your plans upended? It’s really incredible.

I hope this motivates you to remember that anything is possible, no matter what the obstacle or obstacles that you face or must overcome. Remember that people here at the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success (AABS), your friends, and your family all want you to succeed, and we all believe in you. And most importantly, you should believe in yourself, because if you put the time, effort, follow a plan, adapt, and believe, you will succeed. 

Brianna had this to say: “I’m so thankful for the support system I had around me. The midwives and nurses were so invested in helping me not only become a mom but also a lawyer,” She added. “My husband and law school friends provided me with so much encouragement so I could push through the finish line even under less than ideal circumstances. And my family, especially my sister, just kept reminding me how I could do it even when I wasn’t so sure myself.” (as reported by CNN)

Remember that you have a support system that is always here for you, the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success. Not only are we here to provide guidance and support, but we are also here to provide belief in you and encouragement when you are struggling. I personally believe that each of you has the ability to be successful on the bar exam, and that if you dedicate the time, energy, and effort, you will be successful.

On a personal note, the best moments of my year are when I receive a call, email, text, or note from a student informing me that they have been successful and are going to become licensed attorneys. There is no better feeling than helping someone to achieve their dreams, and I want to help you achieve yours.

Have a wonderful Monday, and remember to stay motivated and believe in yourself. If Brianna Smith can go into labor and give birth in the midst of the bar exam and pass the bar exam, you can overcome obstacles and challenges in your life and also be successful.

I believe in you. You can do this. You will be successful.

Black Law Students Association (BLSA) Named Outstanding Student Organization of Fall 2020

The Office of Student Affairs is proud to award the Fall 2020 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:

  • John Lewis: Good Trouble: A Movie and Conversation with film director Dawn Porter (This event was co-sponsored with the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee)
  • Voting Rights Initiative for 2020 Election
  • SBA/BLSA Trivia Event for First-Year Students
  • Movie Night

The Selection Committee was impressed by the effort and hard work of the Black Law Students Association. The Committee would also like to give an honorable mention to Outlaws and Allies. The organization also sponsored impactful events for the community. Congratulations, Black Law Students Association, on being chosen as the Fall 2020 Outstanding Student Organization. We look forward to continuing to work with all of you to make the law school and the community better! 

You, Me, and the MPRE: 2021 Dates and Deadlines

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

One of the key things discussed in our original You, Me, and the MPRE series is the importance of allocating a proper amount of time to study for the MPRE exam. Of course, how can anyone plan accordingly if they don’t have the dates and deadlines?

No worries, as the information for the MPRE dates and deadlines for the 2021 administrations are available now at https://www.ncbex.org/exams/mpre/registration/, and you can learn about them below.

As a brief overview of the dates and deadlines, this year there will be six total administrations of the MPRE, however unlike last year, these dates will be grouped in three back-to-back dates (you’ll only take the exam on one of the six dates). Remember to ensure that you know the registration deadline for the administration that you want to take. Also, it is important to note that there is a difference between the registration deadlines and the recommended accommodation deadlines, so you will want to make sure to pay close attention to both if you intend to apply for accommodations.

The first administration of the 2021 MPRE will take place on March 29th or 30th, and the deadline for registration is January 28, 2021. If you are seeking accommodations, it is recommended that you submit those requests no later than January 4, 2021.

The next administration of the 2021 MPRE will take place on August 11th or 12th, and the deadline for registration for this exam is June 10, 2021. If you are seeking accommodations, remember that it is recommended that you submit those requests no later than May 4, 2021.

Your final opportunity to take the 2021 MPRE will occur on November 4th or 5th, and the deadline for registration for this administration is September 17, 2021. The recommended submission date for those seeking accommodations is August 2, 2021.

Remember, that the MPRE score requirement in Georgia is 75 (if you are intending to become licensed in a different jurisdiction you can find your specific requirements here). Regardless of where you intend to practice or what score you require, putting in the proper amount of study and utilizing the correct resources are both key to your success.

If you are looking for advice on how to be successful on the MPRE exam, including information about the content, free resources, and studying advice, check out our You, Me, and the MPRE series.

AJMLS Project 470: Supplemental Bar Success Program for First-Time Takers

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

When it comes to the bar exam, there are a lot of factors that come into play in order to achieve success. However, one of the biggest indicators of success is the amount of quality study time that students invest in their preparation. Time and time again, statistical indicators show that students who approach the bar exam in a structured manner and put in sufficient hours perform better than their peers who do not have a plan. Additionally, hitting certain quantifiable milestones in terms of time invested combined with study guidance leads to better bar success outcomes. Generally speaking, students who have an adaptive study plan with enough quality study hours dedicated to learning and skills-improvement perform better than those without such a plan and dedication.

This is where Project 470 comes into play. The numbers 4-7-0 represent more than the new area code that Georgia got on February 26, 2010. They also represent the optimal number of hours for students to study to help ensure they successfully pass the bar exam, and this time commitment is the foundation for Atlanta John Marshall Law School’s Project 470.

The general guidance for most first-time bar exam takers is vague, with guidelines, study plans, and subject order varying depending on which commercial bar course students are enrolled with. This leads to confusion, and can sometimes cause difficulty due to the lack of individualization. Students are also confused about strategies, as there are those that claim you need to only do x amount of practice questions, study y amount of hours, or take z amount of essays. These claims can be misleading, because bar study is not a linear path, and what works for one may not work for another. Further, merely checking off a particular box is not sufficient to indicate understanding and skills development. The ability to course-correct and change in response to progress is of additional paramount importance. There are things that are absolutely necessary for success, it is true, but paying attention to any single metric will not be sufficient to ensure an individual’s success. This is where Project 470 enters the picture.

Project 470 is more than a plan to study for a stated number of hours. As mentioned previously, the time commitment is just the foundation. Project 470 goes beyond taking a certain amount of questions, studying a certain amount of hours, or practicing with some amount of essays. It is a guided, structured program designed to coincide with and supplement your commercial bar preparation course. It includes time management strategies, individualized adaptive study plans, workshops, small group sessions, multiple-choice strategy guidance, performance test practice, essay writing tips, writing review, and individualized tutoring. The commercial cost of this program would be expensive, but first-time bar takers at Atlanta’s John Marshall will receive the entire program at no cost, so long as they agree to adhere to the program guidelines and keep pace with the Project 470 requirements. Participation in the program requires commitment and active participation.

The goal of this unique pilot program offering is straightforward: Project 470’s goal is to help every first-time February 2021 taker who participates in the program to pass the bar exam. Our goal is to be one and done, and we will aim for a 100% pass rate for program participants.

As stated above, Project 470 requires dedication and a firm commitment to participate in the program. All program participants will be expected to fully complete their commercial bar prep courses, attend Motivation Monday check-in activities, attend “Saturday Score More” workshops, and to complete a rigorous, directed program that will be a combination of individually developed guidance, one-on-one tutoring, and directed group sessions. Optionally, Small Group Sundays, Tuesday Tips and Tutoring, and Friday Friends Advice programming will be available and recommended to students.

If you want to achieve bar exam success on the February 2021 exam, and are willing to dedicate your time, effort, and energy to passing the bar exam, then Project 470 is for you. All Project 470 participants will be required to attend a mandatory meeting and to sign a memorandum of understanding regarding the program’s requirements. Additionally, all Project 470 participants will be required to adhere to attendance policies, achieve performance metrics (a combination of attendance at workshops, review sessions, tutoring meetings, assignment completion, and satisfactory progress in a commercial bar review course).

Contact Scot Goins, Director of the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success, to join the initial Project 470 cohort. Indications of interest must be received by Sunday, November 15, 2020.

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

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. 

2007 Alumnus, AJ Doucett, Named Director of Alumni Relations for Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) and the John Marshall Law School Alumni Association proudly announce that AJ Doucett, Class of 2007, has been named the new Director of Alumni Relations at the Law School. As a long-time employee of the Law School, he is a known champion of the AJMLS community and students. During his law school graduation, he was awarded the John Marshall Law School Award for Outstanding Service to the School & Community. His enthusiasm and passion for his alma mater is the perfect match for his appointment as Director.

Prior to moving to Atlanta, Doucett always knew he wanted to be an attorney. He attended a high school magnet law program, participated in mock trial teams, and was one of the first teenage student-attorneys in the Duval County Teen Court Program. After graduating from the University of North Florida, he enrolled at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. During his time at AJMLS he was the Vice-Justice of Phi Alpha Delta, President of the International Law Society, and President of ATLA. During his second year he started working at the Law School Library at the circulation desk then moved to the sixth floor working in the library technical services department.

While preparing for the bar exam and waiting for results, Doucett continued to work in the library and began managing the student workers and supporting the library research assistance. After successfully passing the Georgia Bar Exam, his previous experience with research assistance led to the Library Director offering him his first job as a Legal Research and Reference Librarian. While he intended for the position to be short-term, he enjoyed working with the students so much that he held the post for twelve years.

When asked about his time at AJMLS, he said,

“My passion for serving AJMLS as a student has carried over into my job as I have enjoyed working with and helping our students become better legal researchers. As the students have come through the library, I have been able to get to know so many of them over the years. This has been such a privilege and the ability to reconnect with those students that are now alumni is what excites me the most about being named the Director of Alumni Relations.”

Over the past three months, the Law School has hosted numerous virtual alumni events where Doucett and others have been able to connect and enjoy time together. He went on to say that “While I look forward to continuing these virtual events, I cannot wait to start planning in-person events. I am excited to reestablish our Alumni Association that is comprised of so many amazing graduates. I look forward to hosting class reunions, getting our alumni connected with our current students, and getting our students connected with our outstanding alumni so they can see what they can achieve as an AJMLS graduate.”

Doucett is particularly interested in what the school can do to help its alumni. He is committed to supporting them maintain a lifelong relationship with their alma mater while also supporting the Alumni Association’s mission.

AJ Doucett welcomes all alumni and friends to connect with him at adoucett@johnmarshall.edu – he’d like to know each person personally and connect or reconnect them with their school!

Congratulations on this exciting move, AJ! The Law School is looking forward to all the wonderful things you have planned for the Alumni Association.

2010 Alumnus, Judge Vincent A. Lotti, Appointed to State Court of Henry County

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates Judge Vincent A. Lotti, Class of 2010, for his recent appointment to the State Court of Henry County. Judge Lotti will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Ernest Blount in February. Previously, he had been serving as a Henry County magistrate judge

At the Law School, Lotti served as both a Peer Mentor and a Student Ambassador, and was a three time Dean’s Award recipient and member of the moot court team. He found that the first two positions allowed him to help younger students get acclimated to law school and the final activity allowed him to be a representative of the law school while gaining “real world” experience. A notable achievement at AJMLS was when he and his moot court team placed in the top four at a national pre-trial competition in Florida. 

Judge Lotti is a lifelong resident of Henry County, graduated from Union County High School, and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government from The University of Georgia. After graduating from the University of Georgia, Judge Lotti went back to his hometown to take a job with the Henry County Juvenile Court as a probation officer. This was his first experience with the legal world and courtroom and he fell in love. After over two years as a juvenile probation officer, he decided to return to law school and enrolled at AJMLS.

When asked of his experience in the juvenile courts, he noted:

“My experience at Juvenile Court made me feel as though I could help more people as their attorney and at the end of the day that was my goal, to help people.”

After graduating from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, Judge Lotti entered private practice and founded his own practice representing clients in criminal cases and family law. This allowed him to meet numerous attorneys and citizens in his county that he did previously know from his upbringing. In 2018, he ran for an open State Court seat but ultimately lost the election. However, he noted that he had a great showing and this led him to be appointed as an associate Magistrate Court Judge.  

Judge Lotti said of his magistrate appointment,

“A big reason the Magistrate Court job opened up for me was because of how I treated everyone, including my opponents, during the election. I refused to engage in “dirty politics” and kept everything above board. In fact, my opponent was with the Magistrate Court at the time of the election, became a dear friend throughout the campaign, and was extremely helpful to me as I sought an appointment from the Governor. Ultimately, it all boiled down to treating people the right way.”

The Law School wholeheartedly agrees with his final remarks of his interview, when he said,

“It costs nothing, no money nor effort, to be kind to people. Follow the ‘Golden Rule’ and treat people how you wish to be treated and you will be amazed at how far life will take you.”

The Law School is incredibly proud of Judge Lotti’s service to the community and outstanding ethics and we look forward to celebrating his continued success.

Wondering If You “Belong” in Law School? Feeling Like an Imposter? Part 2

Don’t worry. It’s completely normal.

Part 2

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Introduction: Law Students and Impostor Syndrome

In Part 1 of this post, we discussed how students here at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) or any law school, can fall victim to negative self-talk and doubts. The stress and new challenges associated with a law school education can lead many to suffer the aptly named Imposter Phenomenon (also referred to as Imposter Syndrome). Below we discuss helpful strategies that you can utilize to be more realistic in assessing your own abilities and to increase your confidence.

Recognize That You Are Not Alone In Feeling Like an Imposter

Sometimes, a simple reminder of the fact that a student is not alone in feeling this way is all it takes to shake them out of these impostor feelings. It is easy to self-isolate when feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, and then to develop a sense of being the only one in the proverbial boat. It can be helpful to take time to look around and realize that self-stigmatization is something internal, and then to focus externally and realize that others are very likely feeling the same way. Communicating with other students generally quickly reveals that other people are also experiencing doubts and struggling with similar feelings.

Talk To Your Mentors

Although reading about feeling like an imposter and developing a cognitive understanding that you are not alone in feeling this way is important, there is something to be said for talking and sharing with someone who has ‘been there, done that.’ Sharing your feelings with someone who has likely experienced similar feelings can be cathartic, and can help you realize that although your feelings are normal, they are also irrational. Here at AJMLS, the Peer Mentor Program can be an excellent resource for students to benefit from social and personal support, and the Office of Student Affairs encourages students to reach out.

Practice Recognizing Your Own Expertise

Although looking to others who are more experienced can be helpful, so can working with your peers. You may find yourself surprised to realize how much you actually have learned and retained, or how in-depth your understanding actually is, upon engaging with a study group or in a discussion about your legal learning with others. This can often be an eye-opening experience and help you to realize that you know more than you think, or that others are also struggling with the same things you are. Not only will this assist you in realizing that you aren’t alone in your feelings, it may also help generate new feelings of support and decreased isolation by opening doors to communicate with others who are similarly situated.

Remember What Got You Where You Are Today

Although you may be currently struggling with self-confidence or experiencing self-doubt, your life before this was likely filled with many academic achievements and personal successes. Sometimes, it is helpful to remember this and reinforce your awareness of everything you have done well that has put you in position to embrace your current opportunities. It can be helpful to write down accomplishments you have previously realized, moments where you have been fearful but ultimately succeeded, and even to make a realistic list of things that you feel are your strengths. An additional opportunity is to also make a list of areas that might be a weakness and to write down things you can do to improve those areas, or to seek out guidance for assistance in those areas. Being proactive in your approach can help you regain a sense of control and confidence. The Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success at AJMLS is composed of caring and dedicated professionals who are passionate about helping you to succeed on your learning journey, and if you want to seek out assistance you can fill out this form and start the process.

Look Around You and Realize that No One is Perfect

I’m not perfect. You aren’t perfect. No one is perfect. If you aren’t certain of this, I highly encourage you to do an internet search for ‘fails’ for a reminder. The truth of the matter is that everyone makes mistakes, and no one person is perfect at everything. Everyone has their areas of strengths and weaknesses, as well as their good days and bad days. Albert Einstein has a famous quote that says, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Remember that law school is a new experience, and like any new endeavor, may take some time to adjust to and become proficient at, and each individual will have different experiences for how long this process takes. Be patient with yourself.

Be Aware of Your Internal Monologue

Professional athletes and coaches often laud the virtues of a positive internal monologue, or self-talk, and this makes sense on every level. It is difficult to imagine someone catching a successful touchdown pass, hitting the game winning free throws, or pitching a no-hitter if all of their internal monologue is a constant refrain of, “You aren’t good enough. You can’t do this. Everyone is better than you. You are a failure. You might as well give up.” In contrast, making efforts to become aware of negative self-talk and instead substitute it with positive self-talk is more likely to lead to success. When we consider professional sports, something as simple as, “I can do this!” makes sense, but many law students fail to consider that the same is true for them. Positive self-talk can be extremely beneficial for anyone struggling, and it is helpful to practice engaging in such when you recognize that you are engaging in negative self-talk. It is also helpful to visualize success, as opposed to focusing on potential negative outcomes.

Counseling Services

Sometimes, being a law student can lead you to have a vast array of conflicting thoughts, feelings, self-doubts, both in terms of feeling like an impostor and beyond. Here at AJMLS, you always have professional counseling resources that can assist you in dealing with any feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, or really anything else that you have going on. Being proactive in dealing with your mental and emotional well-being can help you be the best version of you!

Conclusion

Although it seems likely that everyone will experience some combination of fatigue, self-doubt, and concerns about belonging at some point in law school, the good news is that there are a variety of ways to proactively take of yourself and to put yourself in the best position to continue achieving success on your academic journey.

 

Wondering If You “Belong” in Law School? Feeling Like an Imposter? Part 1

Don’t worry. It’s completely normal.

Part 1

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Introduction: Law Students and Impostor Syndrome

If you are like many law students over the years here at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (‘AJMLS’), you can probably relate, at least in part, to the following quote:

“I would sit in class, desperately hoping and praying to any deity that would listen that I wouldn’t get called on. Before, during, and after class, my stomach would be in knots and I would be filled with dread and a sense of impending doom at the mere thought of any of my professors directing their attention towards me. When my classmates were called upon, I would marvel at their answers, certain that if I were to be posed the same question that I would miserably and memorably be unable to deliver a comprehensive answer. I was certain that I didn’t belong. I lived in fear of being found out, and that the law school would figure out that they had made a mistake in admitting me. In my heart and mind, I was a law school imposter, and I was just waiting for everyone else to figure it out. I felt like a fraud, and worried constantly about letting down my family and friends. Everyone thought I was on top of it academically and in life, but I knew better. I was an imposter and didn’t belong.” ~Anonymous Law School Graduate

The above quote resonates, especially with first-year law students who are struggling to adapt to the rigors of law school. Whether it is the Socratic method, time requirements, case-briefing, self-imposed pressure, or any of the other numerous law challenges that can present themselves to new law students here at AJMLS (or really any law school), almost everyone faces multiple scenarios that can potentially create self-doubt. Students can find themselves questioning their abilities, their intelligence, and even their decision to attend law school. However, despite this seemingly bleak picture, there is some great news.

It’s perfectly normal to feel this way!

It surprises many students to learn that they aren’t the only ones that feel like imposters. Too often, individuals get lost in their own thoughts and think that they are the only ones that suffer these doubts and feelings of inadequacy, but in fact the reality is that it is fairly common, especially during the first year of law school. There is even a term for it, ‘Imposter Phenomenon’ or as it referred to more commonly in law school circles, ‘Impostor Syndrome.’ (Note: I’ll use these terms interchangeably throughout.) It is indeed entirely normal to have these feelings. Students tend to focus inwardly when struggling, whereas an external focus would reveal that others feel the same.

What is the Imposter Phenomenon?

Although not officially recognized in the DSM-V or the ICD-11, psychologists such as Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes have been researching the Imposter Phenomenon since the 1970’s, and it is generally said to occur among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their own success. Students suffering from this syndrome often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud. Law students fit nicely into this general student definition as a population subset, as these students are those who generally have achieved success on the undergraduate level, but when faced with the pressures, uncertainties, and challenges of obtaining a legal education, experience self-doubt and lose confidence. This can be further compounded by the limited exposure to feedback typical of many law school environments, where students may only receive midterm and final exam grades, leaving them floundering to develop a sense of where they are at any time during their courses. Further, the issue-spotting skills and analytical reasoning required by law school can be a challenge for many law students. Unlike many undergraduate courses which have a clear right or wrong answer, the legal analysis and the “it depends on” scenarios that present themselves in the study of law can lead students to develop a sense that they will never be able to arrive at a correct answer or gain a firm understanding of what law applies in what situation and when. Finally, the pressures of being called upon by professors and participating in the Socratic method in front of peers can lead students to feel that all of their studies are for naught, especially in comparison to what others may respond when volunteering or called upon.

The Imposter Phenomenon Versus Reality

Although students, again, especially first-year law students, often have moments where they feel like so-called impostors or worry about not being up to snuff, the reality is that their intelligence and abilities are up to the challenge. Although law school does present unique hurdles to overcome and requires the development of new ways of thinking and skills, it is important to note that students are evaluated substantively before being admitted to law school to ensure that they are capable of academic success. The law school application process, through a variety of metrics, assesses and ensures that law school students are in fact suited for the study of the law. By reviewing essays, undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, and LSAT scores, law school admissions teams ensure that students who are admitted possess the requisite intellectual skills and abilities to be successful in law school. 

The simple truth and reality is that if you are a student in law school, you have previously worked hard and your labors have borne fruit. You wouldn’t be an enrolled law student unless you were both intelligent and capable of being successful. It may be helpful to realize that about 40% of people who apply to law school don’t get in anywhere (see here for more info). So the truth is if you have been feeling like an imposter, you actually are not.  Instead, you are just a successful, capable individual experiencing the typical doubts that almost every law student faces at some point, again most often in the first year.

That’s great to read, but I still feel like an imposter

Although self-awareness is a great first step in overcoming feeling like an impostor, there are definitely more proactive, positive steps that you can take to help deal with these feelings and to boost your confidence. Check out Part 2 of ‘Doubting Yourself and Your Abilities? Wondering If You “Belong” in Law School? Feeling Like an Imposter? for helpful advice on overcoming this negative mindset.

 

You, Me, and the MPRE – Part 4

MPRE Study Timelines and Review Strategies

Part 4

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

In the previous parts of this MPRE series, we have had an introduction to the MPRE, looked at the 5 W’s, reviewed the four free recommended resources, and generally gotten a good sense of what you will need to know to attain the score you need in your relevant jurisdiction. In Part 4 of the series, we will bring it all together and discuss study timelines and review strategies.

MPRE Study Timelines

The typical ‘how long should I study for?’ questions that arise around the MPRE are nothing new. Generally, as I have mentioned previously, students tend to both overlook the importance of studying for the MPRE and the time requirements that success on this exam takes. Furthermore, almost everyone has heard a rumor of someone who studied for a day or two, or didn’t study at all. Some students believe that completing a professional responsibility course during law school is all that they need, while others erroneously believe that their own personal ethics and morals are enough to guide them.

All of this brings us back to the original question asked, and that is how long should you study for this exam? The answer, like so many things in law school, is that it depends on a variety of factors:

  1. Professional Responsibility Class (PR): The first thing to consider is whether or not you have taken a PR class? If you have not, or if your class was more focused on case law than the model rules and code referenced in Parts 2 and 3 of this series, then you will want to schedule additional time to give yourself time to get familiar with these resources.
  2. Standardized Test-Taking Skills: Are you a good standardized test taker? Do you normally do well on multiple-choice style exams? If the answer to either of these questions is no, then you will want to give yourself additional study time.
  3. Pass Urgency: Given various timelines and the requirements by almost all jurisdictions to obtain a passing score on the MPRE, the closer you get to your required deadline, the more urgent it is to obtain a passing score on the next administration of the exam. If you want to ensure that you pass on the next administration, you must give yourself adequate time.
  4. What Else Is Going On?: Take a look at your life, be it socially, academically, professionally, or any other area that requires your time and attention. Are you going to be busy? Can you afford to allocate enough hours to the MPRE and take focus away from these other areas, or do you have less available time to devote to this exam? Understanding your various time commitments can help you get a head start on your studying and ensure you put yourself in a position to experience success.
  5. Failure to Pass the MPRE Previously: This one should seem obvious, but if you have previously failed the MPRE, then you need to make sure that your next attempt is successful. If you look back on your previous attempt, almost always you will find that you didn’t allocate enough time to your studies. Plan to do things differently this time.

Keeping those five factors in mind, my generally recommended study time is a minimum of 40 hours to guarantee success. This obviously can vary individual to individual, but allocating a minimum 40 hours to this process will put you in the best place for success. This breaks down as follows:

  • 12 hours of commercial bar vendor MPRE course videos
  • 15 hours of practice tests (minimum 4) and review of these tests
  • 8 hours of outline and notes review (provided by commercial bar vendor)
  • 5 hours of model rule and code review (including focus on comments)

Individuals will vary, so if either of the five factors above are an issue for you, it is likely that you will want to devote additional hours to each of these areas to maximize your chance for success. You can break this down however you like, but I would recommend a minimum of two weeks of study at 20 hours a week, up to a maximum of 4-6 weeks (allocating the appropriate hours for your needs). Creating a plan for your studies in alignment with the aforementioned factors and the review strategies that follow will put you in a position to succeed. Remember that a failure to plan is a plan for failure, so make sure you plan!

Review Strategies

As indicated in the previous section, I generally breakdown MPRE study into 4 component parts, and my review strategies align with those.

  1. Commercial Bar Vendor MPRE Course Videos (12 hours): These courses provide lecture-style videos and accompanying notes that will cover the most heavily tested topics on the exam. Watch them at least once, and you may want to re-watch any heavily tested area or areas that you struggle with.
  1. Practice Tests and Review (15 hours): Much like the bar exam itself, all of the knowledge in the world is useless if you cannot apply it, and the MPRE is no different. Not only will practicing help you get a sense for what will be on the exam, but it will also help you to apply the knowledge you have learned and also to identify any gaps in that knowledge. A careful review of the answers and explanations will assist you in focusing your review, and also help you to understand the distinctions and nuances that will help you correctly identify the right answer.
  1. Outline and Notes Review: This goes hand-in-hand with strategies 1 and 2. It isn’t enough to mindlessly read outlines, but rather you need to engage with the material. By watching lectures and taking practice tests, you will enhance your review of the material by allowing yourself to focus on shoring up your weaknesses and building upon your strengths. Identifying where you need work, researching nuances, and clearly understanding distinctions will help you be successful. Lastly, it is important to firmly establish an understanding of the outline material, which will cover most of what appears on the exam.
  1. Model Rules, Code, and Commentary Review: This is what I like to call low-hanging fruit that is often overlooked. The vast majority of the MPRE comes from the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct. Thus, it only makes sense to spend some time reviewing the heavily-tested areas at the least, and also to focus on the commentary in those areas. When you take your practice exams, you will develop a sense of where to focus, and you can also refer back to Part 2 of this series. Remember, the commentary provides insight on how to deal with potential problem areas, insight into the mindsets of the drafters, and generally will be beneficial to study.

Conclusion

If you have explored the MPRE series in its entirety, then you will find yourself well-situated to be successful on this important exam. Remember, however, that merely reading through this and gaining the knowledge of how to be successful is not enough. You have to take this information and apply it to your life, your approach, and your studies. If you do that, and invest the time into obtaining new knowledge, enhancing your understanding, taking practice tests, and reviewing the materials appropriately, you will be successful on the MPRE. 

Good luck and best wishes!

 

You, Me, and the MPRE – Part 3

MPRE Resources

Part 3

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

After introducing you to the MPRE, in Part 1 of this MPRE series we partook in a high level overview of the exam. In Part 2, we reviewed what subjects are tested. Today, in Part 3, we will take a look at some available resources that will enable you to successfully pass the exam.

First and foremost, I DO NOT recommend attempting to study for the MPRE on your own utilizing case books, law school outlines from professional responsibility courses, or just by heading to the library and looking up various items. The resources I list, especially in #1 below, provide a comprehensive overview of everything you need for the exam. These resources are FREE, and you should take advantage of them.

Before delving into the resources themselves, I want to provide a caveat about certain resources available on the internet that are available for you to buy. In most cases, for most people studying for the exam, there is ABSOLUTELY NO NEED to purchase any resources. There are so many options that are free that it sometimes can lead takers to think that they need to buy something additional to get an edge. This is especially true of that minority of students that fail the exam, although as you will see in Part 4 of this series, it most often is not the lack of adequate materials to prepare for the exam, but is instead a lack of preparation that leads people to fail to meet their jurisdictions requirements for passing. All of that said, there may be some examinees who struggle with certain materials, timing, test-taking skills, or other issues. These takers may benefit from tutoring or other options, but it should not be your automatic default option until you have utilized all of the other free resources available, and it is unlikely a first-time taker will need anything beyond these resources. A taker who has been unsuccessful multiple times may want to consider additional resources or engaging a tutor to work on strategies and mindset.

Now, let’s take a look at my top recommended free resources:

#1 Recommended Resource: Commercial Bar Vendor MPRE Course *MOST IMPORTANT*

It may surprise you to learn that most commercial bar vendors offer free MPRE courses. After all, the cost of a commercial bar course can be quite expensive. However, if you approach this from a logical perspective, you will quickly understand why a commercial bar vendor offers a free MPRE course.

If you are preparing to take the bar exam with such a course, how will you ever know anything beyond the marketing about any of these commercial courses? Attending a tabling session (in today’s world often virtual), a course demonstration, or talking with those who have previously taken an exam can be helpful, but the only real way to get an effective feel for the courses is to get some firsthand knowledge and experience. Since the MPRE is sometimes considered the ‘baby-bar’ by many, it makes sense to get exposure to bar vendors’ offerings through their MPRE course. Therefore, these companies generally offer a free course to allow students to experience their systems, methods, and interfaces, with the eventual hope that a student will select them for their bar preparation down the road. Additionally, since the MPRE administered does not vary state-by-state, and is instead uniform across the jurisdictions regardless of passing score requirements, an excellent MPRE course is a relatively inexpensive product that serves as both a study aid and a marketing tool for these companies.

My personal favorite free MPRE course is offered by Kaplan Bar Review, and when I last took the exam, this is what I utilized to attain one of the highest national scores (top 10%). I found the lectures, notes, outline book, practice questions, and practice exams left me more than prepared for the MPRE, to the point where I felt extremely comfortable during the exam.

I also really like BARBRI’s free MPRE course, and have also used it successfully in the past. (NOTE: MPRE scores expire over time, so you may find yourself taking this exam more than once if you move around or decide to change jurisdictions before meeting certain requirements). I’ve also reviewed BARBRI’s materials more recently, and would echo what I said about Kaplan Bar Review in that the BARBRI course will also leave you more than prepared for the exam.

Themis Bar Review (part of what I consider the ‘Big 3’ in terms of commercial vendors currently) also offers an excellent free MPRE course. Although my personal experience is not on the same level with this product, I have reviewed many of the materials and believe that this course will also provide more than adequate materials for any examinee to be successful.

There are other quality free resources from other bar vendors out there, but my personal experience with them is limited. The three aforementioned are ones that I feel comfortable recommending to anyone.

#2 Recommended Resource: The Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the Model Code of Judicial Conduct 

As I referenced in Part 2 of this MPRE series, the model rules and code are heavily tested on the exam, and although a commercial bar vendor’s offerings are generally sufficient for passing this exam, you can assuredly improve your score by studying both the model rules and code. The more heavily tested an area is on the exam (also explained in Part 2 of this series), the more time you may want to invest in reviewing that area in the model rules and code. Additionally, and perhaps the thing you can do to increase your score the most, I strongly encourage you to read the comments on specific rules. Not only will this help you gain a deeper understanding of any rules, but it will also help you to understand the mindsets behind the rules, likely leading you to get more items on the exam itself correct.

You can find the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct here and the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct here.

#3 Recommended Resource: NCBE MPRE Sample Questions and Answers

The NCBE has released sample questions (and answers) to help examinees develop a sense for what will be on the actual MPRE. You can find these sample MPRE questions and answers here. It makes sense to take a look at what the folks who design the exam put out. It should also be noted that the NCBE does offer other materials for purchase, but as I stated above, it is my personal belief and opinion that the vast majority of examinees do not need to spend money on preparation materials.

#4 Recommended Resource: Your Law School’s Academic Achievement, Success, and/or Bar Prep Programs

In the modern era, a large portion of schools have administrators, staff, professors, and/or other professionals who are dedicated to helping students be successful achieving certain milestones on their journeys to becoming lawyers. Although these programs are often focused on either academic programs and support or bar exam success, often they will also have individuals who are more than happy to assist you with advice and guidance on preparing for the MPRE. Here at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success provides our students with such support. However, if you are a student or an alumnus of a different law school, I highly encourage you to reach out to similar offices at your respective law school.

If you utilize the four recommended MPRE resources that I have identified, in conjunction with the study timelines and review strategies in Part 4 of this MPRE Series, you will be well prepared for success on the exam. Remember to check out Part 4: MPRE Study Timelines and Review Strategies to see the final part in the series that will help you to achieve the results you want.

 

You, Me, and the MPRE – Part 2

What Is Tested on the MPRE?

Part 2

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

In Part 1 of this 4-part series, we took a high-level look at the MPRE, reviewing the exam basics and the requirements to achieve a passing score. In Part 2, we will dive deeper into the content of the exam, and review how the exam breaks down into its component parts in order to help guide your studies. The percentages indicated are general guidelines, but remember that specific administrations can vary slightly.

A good starting place to reviewing what is tested on the MPRE comes from the NCBE which states that the exam ‘is based on the law governing the conduct and discipline of lawyers and judges, including the disciplinary rules of professional conduct currently articulated in the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, and controlling constitutional decisions and generally accepted principles established in leading federal and state cases and in procedural and evidentiary rules.’

One question that arises for exam takers is ‘what about changes to either the model rules or the model code?’ The good news is that any amendments won’t be reflected on the MPRE any earlier than one year after the amendments receive approval by the ABA. The bad news is that you have to keep in mind that any such rules or code that are amended may be tested by questions that reflect the aforementioned prior to being amended. It behooves an examinee to review any amendments by visiting the respective ABA sites referenced previously, just to make sure that one is aware of any potential changes that may be ripe for testing (or alternatively, that will not be ripe for testing and require adherence to rules or code that exists in its pre-amended form).

It should be noted that the NCBE states that questions outside of the conduct or disciplinary context are designed to measure an exam taker’s understanding of the generally accepted rules, principles, and common law regulating the legal profession in the United States and apply the majority view of cases, statutes, or regulations on the subject. To the extent that questions of professional responsibility arise in the context of procedural or evidentiary issues, such as the availability of litigation sanctions or the scope of the attorney-client evidentiary privilege, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence will apply, unless otherwise stated. As a general rule, particular local statutes or rules of court will not be tested on the MPRE; however, a specific question may include the text of a local statute or rule that must be considered when answering that question.’

Before we breakdown the MPRE based on this extremely helpful subject outline that the NCBE provides (which is a one-page summary overview of the exam that is helpful to review on a daily basis), there is an additional document that the NCBE provides. This helpful review tool for the MPRE relates to important distinctions regarding what I refer to as ‘may versus must’ and ‘should versus shall’ language distinctions. Much of the language in the rules and code has important modifiers, and this is an opportune time to conduct a highly encouraged review of the key words and phrases document that the NCBE provides for MPRE takers.

Without further ado, let’s examine the 12 MPRE topics prevalence breakdown: 

  1. The Regulation of the Legal Profession (6-12%)
  2. The Client-Lawyer Relationship (10-16%) 
  3. Client Confidentiality (6-12%)
  4. Conflicts of Interest (12-18%) <Highly Tested>
  5. Competence, Legal Malpractice, and other civil liability (6-12%)
  6. Litigation and Other Forms of Advocacy (10-16%)
  7. Transactions and Communications With Persons Other Than Clients (2-8%)
  8. Different Roles of the Lawer (4-10%)
  9. Safekeeping Funds and Other Property (2-8%) <Easy area to get maximum points)
  10. Communications About Legal Services (4-10%)
  11. Lawyers’ Duties to the Public and the Legal System (2-4%)
  12. Judicial Conduct (2-8%) <In my experience, often overlooked by MPRE takers>

Although this list appears short, remember that the topics themselves are internally broad and require the appropriate time and study devoted to each. As you can see from the percentage breakdowns, there are several areas that WILL be worth 10% or more of the entire exam (the lawyer-client relationship, conflicts of interest, and litigation and other forms of advocacy). In fact, those three areas alone could potentially account for anywhere between 32-50% of the entire exam, so make sure you concentrate especially on them. However, given that there are only 50 tested questions that count towards your score, you don’t want to ignore any topical area.

Remember to checkout Part 3, where we will discuss resources for your MPRE preparation, including free MPRE courses, and also Part 4, where we will discuss study timelines and review strategies to ensure that you achieve success on the MPRE.

You, Me, and the MPRE – Part 1

The 5 W’s of the MPRE

Part 1

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Previously, in the introduction to this MPRE series, I engaged in a brief overview of the exam, including what states require a passing score, what kind of mindsets students approach the exam with, and then provided an advance overview of what this series would cover. In this section, we cover the 5 W’s in order to get an understanding of where the MPRE comes from, the makeup of the exam, and to provide a firm foundation for Part 2, which breaks down the exam into its component parts. Remember also that Part 3 of the series will cover the resources available for MPRE preparation, and that Part 4 of the series will help review study timelines and strategies to help ensure you are successful on your first take.

Let’s now take a look at the 5 W’s of the MPRE:

Who: The MPRE is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) and (currently) is administered by Pearson Vue. Beginning in 2020, the test will be administered entirely on a digital platform, thereby removing old worries about sharpening pencils, erasure marks, and accidentally getting tears on your scantron (just kidding, it’s really not that bad!). In 2019, 54 jurisdictions required the MPRE.

Where: Test takers visit a Pearson Vue testing center (if you want to locate your nearest testing go here) to take the MPRE. 

When: Previously, the MPRE was administered on the weekend generally, but that all changed in 2020. During this calendar year, the MPRE takes place during the week and you can see that schedule here. An important thing to note about the MPRE registration deadlines is that they often occur more than a month before the exam. So, if you are thinking about registering for the March or August 2021 administrations, make sure to do well in advance. Also note that unlike 2020, there is no October administration of the exam in 2021 (instead, there will be a November administration).

Registration for the 2021 MPRE administrations opens on December 14, 2020, and is currently slated to have a fee of $135. It also appears the exam will be shifting to a two consecutive day format, unlike the staggered schedule seen in 2020.

Why: The MPRE is administered to test examinees on their knowledge and understanding of established standards and rules related to the professional conduct of lawyers. It does not test an individual to determine his or her personal ethical values and morals. Since lawyers can serve in a variety of roles, including as judges, counselors, legal advocates, and so forth, it is important to ensure that attorneys have an understanding of rules and expectations for them. The test questions generally deal with circumstances

The law governing the conduct of lawyers in these roles is applied in disciplinary and bar admission procedures, and by courts in dealing with issues of appearance, representation, privilege, disqualification, and contempt or other censure, and in lawsuits seeking to establish liability for malpractice and other civil or criminal wrongs committed by a lawyer while acting in a professional capacity.

What: The MPRE is an exam administered over two hours that consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. Of these 60 questions, only 50 are actually scored, and the other 10 are considered pretest questions and are generally said to be indistinguishable from the scored questions. Your takeaway from that is simple: treat all 60 questions like they count. The scaled score that takers will receive can range from a low of 50 to a high of 150.

Scores to pass the MPRE vary based on jurisdiction. Georgia requires a minimum passing score of 75, which ties with Alabama, the District of Columbia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Palau, and the Virgin Islands for the lowest required score for passing. In order to provide some perspective, the mean scaled score for the entire group of MPRE takers in 2019 was 94.9. Although this number is higher than Georgia’s required passing score, that does not mean that you can overlook this exam. Regardless of your intended practice state’s requirements, this is a test that you have to prepare for to be successful, and approaching it with the mindset that the average score is higher neglects the fact that about 20% of takers (almost 12,000!) fail to achieve a score of 75. Don’t be part of that group, and make sure you take this test seriously.

The majority of future examinees at this point, having reviewed the respective score required by their state, will then ask how to achieve that score. This is tough to state accurately because the NCBE equates the scores, so there is no hard and fast answer. However, you can approximate that a required score of 75 requires about 56% correct and an 85 requires about 60% correct. Remember, however, this is a statistical proximation and SHOULD NOT be the metric that you shoot for generally. Like the bar exam, the MPRE is somewhat a test of minimum competence in terms of scoring, but why risk failing by aiming low? My advice is always to put the time in to achieve the best score that you are capable of and EXCEED the minimum requirement, as opposed to aiming low and potentially falling short. Put the time in!

Remember to check out Part 2, where we will breakdown the different areas of professional responsibility that are tested on the exam. As I stated previously, this will help you focus your studies and maximize your time as you pursue attaining a passing score on the MPRE.

AJMLS 1L Student, Carlton “Cal” Lewis, Awarded CLEO Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. Civil Rights Scholarship

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates 1L student, Carlton “Cal” Lewis, for his recent scholarship achievement. Cal was among five scholars to receive The Council on Legal Education Opportunity Inc. (CLEO) 2020 Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. Civil Rights Scholarship.

CLEO’s 2020 Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. Civil Rights Scholarship was awarded to five outstanding first-year law students who are passionate about protecting the civil rights of all Americans. The scholarship is named to honor Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., attorney, noted civil rights leader/activist, an advisor to presidents, businessman, and a board member to several Fortune 500 companies. Each scholar was selected after displaying academic achievement, extra-curricular participation, and writing an essay on how he/she would use their law degree to advance civil rights.

An excerpt from Cal’s essay is below,

Our nation has not fully granted through policy that returning citizens should be treated like every other citizen and have the right to vote. As the late, great Rep. John Lewis is quoted in saying, “The vote is precious. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it.” Now more than ever, leadership is critical to the health of our country and its people and having one’s constitutional right to vote suppressed or taken away for the rest of one’s life as many returning citizens have had to endure is not right. I plan to fight as a change agent to make sure this injustice is abolished from our nation once and for all.    

Applications were accepted from students who attended CLEO’s 1L Prep – Attitude Is Essential pre-law seminar during the summer. After receiving more than 150 applications, the scholarship committee selected the five finalists. This is the first time CLEO has awarded this scholarship.

Thank you, CLEO, for acknowledging Cal’s commitment to advancing civil rights in his career. We are excited to follow his journey through law school and beyond.

Congratulations, Cal!

You, Me, and the MPRE – Introduction

Introduction

One of the hurdles that the vast majority of law students will face on their journeys to becoming licensed attorneys here at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (‘AJMLS’) is the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (the ‘MPRE’). In fact, unless you are intending to practice in the jurisdictions of Wisconsin or Puerto Rico, every other jurisdiction has a MPRE requirement (although it should be noted that both New Jersey and Connecticut allow law students to bypass this requirement via the successful completion of a professional ethics course in law school). However, despite the fact that almost every future lawyer will have to take this exam, it is often one of the most often overlooked and underprepared for tests that students will face. This can lead to students failing an exam that is perhaps the most straightforward and easy to prepare for exams that they will take. This failure often doesn’t serve as a long-term barrier to becoming a lawyer, but it does cause delays, anxiety, and results in costs both in dollars and time that can easily be avoided.

Given that we are a few weeks out from the October administrations of the MPRE, most students find themselves with one of three mindsets. Some students will find themselves wondering how much they need to study (if at all), and whether or not their professional responsibility class in law school or their own personal morals and ethics will be enough to carry them through. Others will have committed to a solid few days of study, likely utilizing a free MPRE course provided by a commercial vendor (recommended to use), and will just hope for the best studying when they can. Lastly, some students are full of anxiety about the MPRE and fear that no matter what they do, success may elude them on exam day.

Regardless of which mindset you have, the good news is that this series will ensure that you are on the correct path to success on the MPRE. After this introductory post, later in Part 1, we will review what the MPRE is and what score is required for your jurisdiction (here we will focus on Georgia, which is where AJMLS is located, and where the majority of our students take the bar exam). Next, in Part 2, we will breakdown the different areas of professional responsibility that are tested on the exam, in order to help you understand where to spend the majority of your study time. Then, in Part 3, we will discuss resources for your MPRE preparation, including free MPRE courses (Disclaimer: I have a favorite, but there are several nice options). Finally, in Part 4, we will review an appropriate timeline and review strategies for your studies (although individuals vary a great deal, so you may have to adjust your timeline according to your own progress).

The MPRE can be a hurdle, but the reality is that it should not be much of one. By preparing correctly, allocating adequate time for preparation, and engaging in the appropriate practice and review, this test will be one and done for you (unless you need your score later – in most jurisdictions, your MPRE score will expire after a certain amount of time). Put your time in before the test and ensure you are successful the first time you take this exam.

 

2010 Alumna, Alpa Amin, Named Executive Director for Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates Alpa Amin, Class of 2010, for her recent promotion. As of January 1, 2021, Amin will become the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network’s new Executive Director.

At AJMLS, Amin was a founder of the Immigration Law Society, research assistant to Judge Renata Turner (former Director, then Associate Dean of Experiential Learning, now Juvenile Court Judge), editor of “For The Public Good” (AJMLS’ public interest newsletter), and heavily involved in the planning/preparation of the Youth & Law Summit (which was spearheaded by Judge Turner and others).

Amin said, “The practical experience I gained through an externship with Raksha during my second year of law school, coupled with my participation in Professor Joe Rosen’s immigration law course and subsequent Asylum seminar, really paved the way for me to do the work that I’m engaged in now.”

Amin is the Director of Legal Services at the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN). She began her work with GAIN in 2008 as a Law and Policy Assistant, and in 2009 with the support from Greenberg Traurig and King & Spalding, she was awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship to establish GAIN’s Victims of Violence Program. In her current position, she oversees the provision of pro bono legal services through GAIN’s Asylum and Victims of Violence Programs. She recruits, trains and mentors pro bono 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, VAWA Self-Petitions, and Battered Spouse Waivers. She works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement and is a frequent guest speaker on issues affecting immigrant victims of crime. Amin is a 2018 graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, Workgroup Chair of the Georgia Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force, a former Adjunct Professor of Immigration Law at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, and a graduate of the Leadership Buckhead Class of 2016. She has been recognized by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of Georgia’s Top 40 Under 40 and is the recipient of the Atlanta Bar Association’s 2018 Rita A. Sheffey Public Interest Award. She is a graduate of Virginia Tech University and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.

Amin went on to say, “I benefited greatly from the guidance and tutelage of so many professors, executive/administrative staff, and of course my classmates (now colleagues). I’m grateful for their faith in me, then, and their unwavering support since.”

We are so proud of Alpa’s commitment to GAIN’s mission and the immeasurable impact she has had on the Georgia legal community. We look forward to following her journey as the Executive Director of GAIN!

Alpa will also be featured in the upcoming Alumni in Action event on October 8, click here for additional information.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Announces Creation of the John Marshall Law School Foundation, Inc.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is proud to announce the creation of the John Marshall Law School Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation. 

The mission and purposes of the John Marshall Law School Foundation, Inc. are to provide financial support, by means of funded scholarships and fundraising activities, to law students attending Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or underserved communities, and who show promise of succeeding in law school and who otherwise would not have the financial means to fulfill their educational goals.

“The creation of the Foundation now gives us an important resource to assist in our mission of educating all students who we serve,” said Dean Jace C. Gatewood, “Including those from traditionally underserved communities whose financial, family, or professional responsibilities may make law school financially prohibitive.”

Atlanta’s John Marshall was founded as a non-profit institution in 1933 with a mission to provide members of underserved groups the opportunity to enter the legal profession and serve their own communities. In the 1990s, the Law School was acquired by a for-profit company and has operated as a “stand alone” for-profit entity since. In 2018, the Law School’s Board of Directors and faculty determined it was in the best interest of the institution and its students to return the Law School to its non-profit roots to better enhance its mission and the Law School’s contribution to the community. In 2019, the Law School took its first step to achieving that goal by requesting and receiving acquiescence from its accreditor, the American Bar Association, to convert to a non-profit institution. The Law School is currently in the process of seeking final approval from the Department of Education.    

The Foundation was formed to support the efforts of the Law School in achieving its goals, and seeks to further the mission of the Law School by assisting the Law School in funding scholarships to qualified students based upon financial need to help fulfill their educational goals of becoming practicing attorneys.

Board Chair Michael C. Markovitz said, “I am proud of my twenty-five year affiliation with Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. First, helping the school secure financial stability and ABA accreditation, and now, with the assistance of our Board, the Dean, our administrative staff, and our friends in the community, returning the school to Atlanta as a non-profit asset. Our next challenge is to encourage philanthropic giving in furtherance of our long standing mission.”

The Law School is currently seeking the appointment of the Law School’s Chief Development Officer, who will be responsible for planning and implementing strategies to secure donors and contributions in support of the Law School and the Foundation, provide oversight of the fund development program, monitor development activities, and address issues that may hamper growth and success. Responsibilities will also include building lasting relationships with and providing services to its outstanding local and international alumni base.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School looks forward to serving the Atlanta community for another 87 years and longer, and returning to its original non-profit status in 2020.

A Statement from the Dean Regarding the Death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School mourns the death of a true American giant among giants in the legal community, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg was not only a legal giant, but she was also a true American hero championing the rights of women and marginalized communities throughout her legal career. She spent most of her legal career advocating for women’s rights and the advancement of gender equality. Many credit Justice Ginsburg with changing the lives of all women now and for future generations. While a tireless advocate for women’s rights and equality, she was equally passionate about mentoring young lawyers. When the students of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School had the opportunity to listen to oral arguments at the Supreme Court several years ago, Justice Ginsburg took time out of her busy schedule to meet with our students and answer their questions. While we mourn today, we will continue to celebrate the life and legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her mark on American history.

AJMLS Alumni on the Move: Fall 2020

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) celebrates its alumni and their accomplishments. If you would like to submit information for our next Alumni on the Move piece, please click here to submit the form.

Diana Simmons, Class of 2009

Diana Simmons (nee Sturgis) won the run-off election on August 11, 2020, becoming the next State Court Judge in Cobb County. She ran against fellow AJMLS alumni, Mazi Mazloom and David Willingham, as well as candidates Trina Griffiths, Scott Halperin, and Joseph Atkins.

Ben Musgrove, Class of 2013

Musgrove was sworn in as a Magistrate Court Judge for Forsyth County on July 16, 2020 by Judge Lynwood D. Jordan, Jr., Probate Judge for Forsyth County. He was appointed by Judge Walker Bramblett, Chief Magistrate, on July 1, 2020 and confirmed by all judges of the Forsyth County Superior Court.

While continuing to serve his clients with their personal injury needs, Ben will be taking on the additional responsibility of holding a seat in the Magistrate Court and will be reviewing warrant applications, and presiding over certain criminal and small claims matters.

Amanda Perez, Class of 2009

Perez was appointed as part-time judge to the Magistrate Court of Cobb County. The appointment was made by Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Murphy and unanimously confirmed by Cobb County Superior Court. 

Perez has been practicing law since 2009, with a focus in domestic, civil litigation, immigration and criminal defense work. She has a private practice in which she represents injured people who are seeking to recover payment for work and clients who want to negotiate with creditors.

Rita Cherry, Class of 1996

Cherry was appointed as part-time judge to the Magistrate Court of Cobb County. The appointment was made by Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Murphy and unanimously confirmed by Cobb County Superior Court. 

Cherry previously served as a Magistrate Court judge in 2015. She practiced law in employment and labor cases, served as a defense attorney in the Cobb County Circuit Defender’s office, worked as an assistant district attorney in Fulton County and as a senior assistant city attorney for the city of Atlanta. 

Neera Bahl, Class of 2004

Governor Brian P. Kemp announced his selection of Neera Bahl to serve on the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.

Erik Provitt, Class of 2016

Appointed to the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Bar Association for the 2020-2021 Bar Year.

Kyle M. Moore, Class of 2013

Helped a fellow lawyer obtain a 21 million dollar verdict in north Georgia federal court this year as a first run at being a trial consultant.

Nick Schnyder, Class of 2011

The Nick Schnyder Law Firm is hiring on a monthly basis, is in the third building in only four years of practice, and expanding the parking lot for the growing firm.

Kenneth French, Class of 2018

As Legal Counsel at T. Rowe Price, French was recently appointed to serve as a board member on the University of Maryland’s School of Law’s Diversity Scholars program. This initiative focuses on introducing UM Law students from diverse backgrounds into the day in the life of corporate counsel. In addition to mentoring the students, the students are also brought on site to participate in programs sponsored by participating firms. The students are identified and brought into the program by the Development & Alumni Relations department at the law school during their 1L year and many participate in the program throughout their time in law school.

Wellington Tzou, Class of 2012

Wellington founded Taiwanese American Professionals (TAP) of Georgia, where Taiwanese Americans and Americans, who are interested Taiwanese culture and professional development, joined to support one another. The organization started out with only about a handful of members, but now the Georgia organization proudly has over 100 members. Stemming from this success, Wellington was asked to join the National Taiwanese American Professional, where he now sits as the national President. Further since his tenure, TAP has hosted national conventions in Atlanta and led the initiative with voting rights, national census, and Asian community interests in the justice system. His success still continues on where he is frequently asked to join the Taiwanese government officials in Taiwan and hosts several Taiwanese leaders and politicians to Georgia to enrich the Taiwanese Americans’ lives in the United States and bridge the two nations together closer.

In addition to the development of TAP, Wellington was part of Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association, where he served as its Community Service Chair. During his tenure, he led the state-wide effort of serving the community at large by partnering with ServiceJuris, AVLF, Food Bank, and many other non-profit organizations.

Lastly, Wellington has led a successful professional career where he served corporate clients such as IBM, Coca-Cola, and WebMD as their counsel. Currently, he leads a global data privacy compliance team in Deloitte. Prior to COVID19 pandemic, Wellington frequently visited offices in China and New York working on global initiatives for Deloitte.

Fariba Bayani, Class of 2004

Bayani was invited and taught a personal injury CLE at a punitive damages seminar regarding DUI cases that cause accident and thus are subject to punitive damages. After graduating from John Marshal Law, I was immediately hired as a Prosecutor at Fulton County and prosecuted DUI cases, among other kind of criminal cases. After several years, I started Bayani Law Group in Sandy Springs. Since 2010, I have been practicing personal injury cases, criminal defense, and family law.

Michelle Reilly, Class of 2016

Michelle Reilly Law Group LLC – Opened in June 2020

Areas of practice: Personal Injury, Estate Planning, Family Law, Elder Law, General Civil Litigation

Michelle Cross, Class of 2019

Atlanta’s Law Firm – Opened in June 2020

Areas of practice: criminal defense, personal injury, contract dispute, incorporating businesses, and helping people get economic injury disaster loans through the Small Business Administration.

Gabrielle Bloodsaw, Class of 2016

Gabrielle graduated in 2016 and was quickly employed as a public defender for the city of Atlanta. A year later she achieved greater heights as a Public Defender in Fulton County working for the Metro Conflict public defenders. In January of 2019, she was accepted to be a JAG officer in the US Army. After completing basic training in Fort Benning, GA and graduating JAG school in Charlottesville, SC she was sent to Fort Hood, TX for her 3 year term. After only a few months LT Bloodsaw was promoted to CPT. Recently, she was deployed to assist in a mission overseas. In only a few short years since graduation, CPT Bloodsaw has dedicated her time to serving some of this county’s most vulnerable populations.

Mariette Clardy-Davis, Class of 2013

Mariette Clardy-Davis was invited to be a panelists for AwareHealth’s CLOSING RACIAL DISPARITIES IN MENTAL HEALTH AT THE WORKPLACE.

Mariette will share her tips and recommendations as well as her personal journey as a black female attorney living and working with a bipolar depression diagnosis.

Alpa Amin, Class of 2012

Alpa Amin was named the Executive Director for Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network.

Paul Nam, Class of 2012

Job placement at InComm as Associate General Counsel in Oct 2019.

Sara Wardlow, Class of 2016

Cain Injury Law has hired Sara Wardlow as of counsel from the Rebbeca Kay Sapp Law Firm. Wardlow is handling all types of personal injury law at her new firm.

Naja Burroughs, Class of 2019

Job placement at Kenny Leigh and Associates in its Atlanta office.

Taylor Newell, Class of 2019

Job placement at Cohen and Sinowski, a Personal Injury Law Firm in Atlanta.

Nine AJMLS Alumni Elected to Serve State Bar of Georgia Board of Governors

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates its nine alumni that were recently elected to serve the State Bar of Georgia Board of Governors.

*The State Bar of Georgia is governed by a 160-member Board of Governors. The Board controls and administers the affairs of the State Bar. Members of the Board of Governors are the voice of the members in the circuit they represent. The Board is comprised of the Attorney General of Georgia, officer members, and elected and appointed Board of Governors members.

The nine alumni who were recently elected or are currently serving a Board term are:

NameAdmit YearPostTerm Expiration
Austin O. Jones 2003Alcovy Cir., Post 2 2022
Tracee Ready Benzo 2008Atlanta Cir, Post 6 2022
Eric Alvin Ballinger 1993 Blue Ridge Cir., Post 2 2021
Carl A. Veline Jr. 1974 Houston Cir. 2022
Mitchen McKinley Shook 1992 Middle Cir., Post 1 2022
Carl Santos Cansino 1996 Ocmulgee Cir., Post 1 2022
Barry E. King 1998 Piedmont Cir. 2021
H. Burke Sherwood 1999 Southern Cir., Post 3 2022
Matthew Jackson Hennesy 2004 Waycross Cir., Post 1 2022

Thank you to our alumni for serving our legal community and representing Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. We are thrilled to celebrate your accomplishments.

*State Bar of Georgia

Professor Rapping Publishes Gideon’s Promise: A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is proud to share that Professor Jonathan Rapping, Director of the Criminal Justice Certificate Program, has published Gideon’s Promise: A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice.

The book hit shelves this month and is a #1 New Release on Amazon. The book is described online as,

A blueprint for criminal justice reform that lays the foundation for how model public defense programs should work to end mass incarceration.

Combining wisdom drawn from over a dozen years as a public defender and cutting-edge research in the fields of organizational and cultural psychology, Jonathan Rapping proposes a radical cultural shift to a “fiercely client-based ethos” driven by values-based recruitment training, awakening defenders to their role in upholding an unjust status quo, and a renewed pride in the essential role of moral lawyering in a democratic society.

Public defenders represent over 80% of those who interact with the court system, a disproportionate number of whom are poor, non-white citizens who rely on them to navigate the law on their behalf. More often than not, even the most well-meaning of those defenders are over-worked, under-funded, and incentivized to put the interests of judges and politicians above those of their clients in a culture that beats the passion out of talented, driven advocates, and has led to an embarrassingly low standard of justice for those who depend on the promises of Gideon v. Wainwright.

However, rather than arguing for a change in rules that govern the actions of lawyers, judges, and other advocates, Rapping proposes a radical cultural shift to a “fiercely client-based ethos” driven by values-based recruitment and training, awakening defenders to their role in upholding an unjust status quo, and a renewed pride in the essential role of moral lawyering in a democratic society.

Through the story of founding Gideon’s Promise and anecdotes of his time as a defender and teacher, Rapping reanimates the possibility of public defenders serving as a radical bulwark against government oppression and a megaphone to amplify the voices of those they serve.

In addition to his book publication, he has been serving as Co-Chair to the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Use of Force. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced seven Administrative Orders (AO) after receiving the Mayor’s Use of Force Advisory Council’s 45-day recommendations. The Advisory Council provided 33 recommendations spanning five areas of focus on policing practices: Mission, Vision, Values; Standard Operating Procedures; Governance; Community Partnerships; and Reporting and Transparency. The full report may be read here.

Thank you, Professor, for continuing to change the culture and practice of public defense in America. AJMLS students are afforded the very best criminal justice education from you.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Board of Directors Officially Name Jace C. Gatewood 10th Dean of Law School

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to announce the permanent appointment of its 10th Dean, Jace C. Gatewood. Dean Gatewood succeeded Dean Malcolm L. Morris on January 1, 2020 as Interim Dean and CEO, and has now been affirmed by the Board as the permanent Dean. Dean Gatewood became the first African American to serve in the role since the school’s founding in 1933.

Dean Gatewood, who has been a senior member of the faculty since 2008, said “I am deeply honored and humbled to be appointed the new permanent Dean of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. I am thrilled to be able to continue the rich legacy of the Law School as a school that provides opportunity for legal training to those who might not otherwise be able to earn a law degree. For much of its history, women and African-Americans were more welcome at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School than at many law schools, and I look forward to continuing this tradition of diversity.”

Since assuming his interim role in early 2020, the world experienced record events and the Law School required unparalleled leadership to maintain its stability. Chairman of the Board, Dr. Michael C. Markovitz noted “Dean Gatewood has come through brilliantly [the past six months]. The Law School is the better for it and is making plans for this coming year that include, among other things, an improved online learning platform.” AJMLS has continued its J.D. programs remotely and enrolled a strong Fall 2020 class amid the global pandemic.

Dean Gatewood has served in roles such as Associate Professor, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, and Associate Dean of Academic Programs. In addition to teaching, he has chaired the curriculum committee, and been a member of the admissions committee and faculty recruitment committee. Dean Gatewood has taught a range of courses including Property, Business Organizations, Sales and Secured Transactions, Wills, Trusts and Estates, and Agency and Negotiations. As a faculty member at Atlanta’s John Marshall, Dean Gatewood has authored numerous scholarly publications, with his chief research topic being the fourth amendment and an individual’s right to privacy in an increasingly technological world.

Dean Gatewood attended Georgetown University where he was a full scholarship track and field athlete. Becoming the first African American Dean of AJMLS was not his first historic moment, he was also a world and American record-holder for the Distance Medley Relay in 1980. Dean Gatewood went on to earn his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Prior to entering academia, Dean Gatewood practiced for nearly two decades in New York and Atlanta at Weil Gotshal LLP, Troutman Sanders LLP, Powell Goldstein LLP, Atlanta Housing Authority, and the Law Offices of Jace C. Gatewood. He specialized in a wide range of commercial lending and corporate and real estate finance transactions. His expertise includes the representation of lenders and foreign and domestic commercial banks in the establishment and administration of single lender and syndicated loan facilities of all kinds.

“While I understand the symbolism of my being the first African American appointed Dean of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, especially during a period of social unrest in the wake of a national antiracism movement and a global pandemic, my focus as Dean will be to move the school to be a more progressive institution by incorporating emerging technologies into the classroom to enable more innovative and engaging teaching methods and learning experiences,” said Dean Gatewood. “All while continuing the efforts of the Law School to promote diversity and inclusiveness in the legal field.”

Despite the events and challenges of 2020, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School has evolved and maintained a rigorous course of study under Dean Gatewood’s leadership. The Law School continues to finalize its new status as a not-for-profit law school and looks forward to a successful academic year.

Professor Malempati Elected to the Board of the National Association of Legal Advocacy Educators (NALAE)

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates Professor Suparna Malempati, who has been elected to the Board of the National Association of Legal Advocacy Educators (NALAE). NALAE is a newly formed organization which supports the community of educators dedicated to elevating advocacy skills education in American law schools. 

Professor Malempati will be serving as a Regional Representative for law schools in Georgia, Florida, and Puerto Rico. She will actively participate in the establishment of NALAE’s goals, bylaws, projects, committees, and other activities. Although NALAE is a brand new organization, over 500 votes were cast from 108 law schools around the country. Professor Malempati has demonstrated a commitment to advocacy education through teaching trial advocacy and working with John Marshall’s advocacy competition teams since 2009.

Prior to joining the AJMLS faculty, Professor Malempati served for two years as lead counsel for the Office of the Child Advocate Attorneys in Fulton County Juvenile Court, where she led a team of lawyers and investigators representing children in abuse and neglect proceedings. She is also an experienced trial attorney, having worked in criminal defense for ten years as an Assistant Public Defender in Fulton County. Throughout her career as a trial lawyer, she successfully defended murders, sex crimes and other complex felony cases. She also wrote briefs and argued cases to the Appellate and Supreme Courts of Georgia.

Congratulations, Professor! We can’t wait to see what great things the Board accomplishes.

2019 Alumnus, Captain Bryan Dayton, First Attorney Sworn Into the Bar of the Georgia Supreme Court Virtually

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates 2019 alumnus, Captain Bryan Dayton, for his momentous swearing-in this morning to the Bar of the Georgia Supreme Court. Capt. Dayton is currently with the Georgia Army National Guard and works with U.S Army Europe Command. He is deployed to Germany where he plans joint training missions with our NATO partners in Europe and Asia, and as such, became the first person to be sworn into the Georgia Supreme Court virtually.

Capt. Dayton is transferring from the Infantry to the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps to serve as an Army lawyer. To make the branch transfer, he is required to earn a certificate of good standing showing that he has been admitted to the highest court of the state. Capt. Dayton had two sponsors who participated in today’s remote swearing-in ceremony. One of his sponsors is Brigadier General Bobby Christine, who is also the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia in Savannah. Brig. Gen. Christine, a one-star general, has the distinction of being the only general officer in the Army National Guard JAG Corps. Capt. Dayton’s second sponsor is Colonel Brian Bischoff, who was recently appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to succeed Brig. Gen. Christine as the State Judge Advocate for the Georgia National Guard.

Upon his return to Georgia, Capt. Dayton will be taking a job with the law firm of Prieto, Marigliano, Holbert, and Prieto, LLC, specializing in recovery for victims of long-term-care negligence and elder abuse.

In 2008, Capt. Dayton received his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina. Last year, he received his Juris Doctor from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, graduating top 5 in his class.

Between his undergraduate studies and law school, Capt. Dayton spent six-years on active duty as an Army Infantry Officer. While on active duty, he deployed as a Platoon Leader to Kuwait, in support of Operation Spartan Shield. He also deployed to Latvia and Poland to support Operation Atlantic Resolve. As an Army Officer, Capt. Dayton earned a Ranger Tab, Airborne Wings, Air Assault Badge, Expert Infantrymen’s Badge, and many other decorations and awards.

Capt. Dayton made the most of his time at Atlanta’s John Marshall involving himself in several different on-campus activities. He participated in Law Review for a semester before joining the Mock Trial team. While on Mock Trial, he traveled to South Carolina and competed in the Palmetto State Classic hosted by the University of South Carolina. Additionally, he worked as a Lexis Nexus Student Representative, a student employee at the Michael L. Lynch Law Library, and led the Atlanta’s John Marshall Barbri Student Sales Team.

Capt. Dayton and his beautiful wife Kayt, who will be returning to the US this month to attend Georgia Tech’s Master in Architecture program, maintained a residence in Atlanta since 2016 while living in Wiesbaden, Germany for his work. Capt. Dayton’s hobbies include marathon-running, working out, travel, and reading.

Capt. Dayton shared, “The biggest lesson I learned at John Marshall was that every day I need to strive to be better than I was yesterday.” He sat for and passed the July 2019 Georgia Bar exam.

Congratulations to Capt. Dayton! Thank you for your service and we look forward to welcoming you back to Georgia very soon.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law Establishes Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is proud to announce it has formally established the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. The Committee was created early June 2020 by Dean Jace C. Gatewood and is Chaired by both Professor Kathleen Burch and Professor Erika Walker-Cash.

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee advises the Dean on equity, diversity and inclusion issues with the goal of ensuring that Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School becomes a more anti-racist, equitable and inclusive community for all who study, learn, teach and serve here. The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee seeks to: engage the law school community in thoughtful discussion and reflection around race; develop educational and professional programming that includes and addresses topics of diversity and discrimination; and assist students and alumni to identify opportunities to continue this work as lawyers.  

The EDI Committee has already hosted its first two events, a town hall meeting, Activism During Social Unrest: A Conversation with the Atlanta’s John Marshall Community. The inaugural Zoom event was attended by over 75 AJMLS community members ranging from current students to alumni and administrators. The discussion was led by Dr. Bridgett Ortega and breakout sessions allowed participants an intimate opportunity to connect and bring ideas to the table. The Committee also co-hosted with the Office of Student Affairs, the Student Bar Association, and the Black Law Students Association chapter at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School a panel discussion on Police Reform in the 21st Century. The program brought together experts, public officials, and organizers to examine the history of policing in America and discuss how to change policing in America in the context of broader concerns about systemic racism and structural inequality.

The Committee will be hosting and sharing additional events on their webpage here.

Questions, comments, and suggestions may be directed by email at equitydiversityinclusion@johnmarshall.edu.

What to Expect If You Choose to Come to Campus This Fall

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is committed to the health and safety of it’s students and employees. Below are a number of things you can expect to encounter if you choose to come to the building. While all classes will be remote this fall, the building is still open by appointment. Please review our COVID-19 page and your email for detailed policies.

All students and employees must execute the AJMLS COVID-19 Acknowledgment prior to entering the building. You may find the document here. Copies will also be provided at the security desk if needed but we strongly suggest you print and sign prior to arriving so not to cause physical congestion in the lobby. Executed agreements may be submitted to the security desk.

All students shall be required to wear a mask while in common areas of the Law School, including classrooms, library, hallways, stairwells, elevators, and restrooms.

Social distancing of six feet will be implemented and maintained between employees, students, and visitors in the school, including the library and classrooms whenever possible.

Please use hand sanitizer and wash your hands frequently.

A shield has been installed on the security desk for everyone’s safety.

Signage will be found throughout the building reminding students and employees of our COVID-19 policies. You may also view our policies anytime on the COVID-19 page.

There is a 6′ ruler on the floor in the lobby to help you gauge spacing between each other.

If you are unable to use the stairs, please adhere to the signage in the elevators for safe spacing.

A shield has also been installed on the 7th floor reception desk for everyone’s safety.

Thank you for reviewing our policies and helping do your part to keep our community safe.

Professor Mears Quoted in Time Magazine About the Suit Filed by Governor Kemp Against Atlanta City Council and Mayor Bottoms

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Associate Professor, Michael Mears, was interviewed by Time Magazine for their recent piece, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Sued to Block Atlanta’s Face Mask Ordinance. In the article, the writer interviewed legal experts at Georgia law schools on whether Governor Kemp’s suit to block the local ordinance mandating masks would be successful in court. 

This case has drawn national attention as Georgia is not the only state that has seen differing views between local municipalities and state leadership. Professor Mears echoed a similar point to other legal experts, telling TIME that 

“there’s a number of cases in Georgia going back to the 1930s that give the authority to the governor.” 

Mears also goes on to note,

“…the case will also likely be appealed to the state Supreme Court. Don’t be surprised if this challenge is just the beginning of a longer legal battle.”

Professor Mears has been on the faculty at AJMLS since 2007. He teaches evidence, advanced evidence, criminal law, criminal procedure, and criminal law ethics. In 2003, Michael 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. He then retired from that position in 2007 and has been an Associate Professor AJMLS since. Professor Mears is the author of numerous articles and books, and his unique and diverse background makes him uniquely qualified to comment on the issue as he too has been a Mayor in Georgia for the city of Decatur.

Thank you for your continued contributions to the legal community, Professor Mears. We appreciate all of your efforts!

Professor Mears Appointed to Board of Trustees for Georgia Institute of Continuing Legal Education

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Associate Professor, Michael B. Mears, has been reappointed to the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE). Mears has served on the Board for over seven years and has previously served two consecutive terms as Chairman of the Board.

The Georgia Institute of Continuing Legal Education is a not-for-profit educational service 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 which will provide legal education for members of the State Bar of Georgia.

When asked of his appointment, Professor Mears remarked, 

“I am honored to continue my service as a member of the Board of Trustees of the State Bar’s Institute of Continuing Legal Education. ICLE is dedicated to providing the highest level of continuing legal education to the members of the Bar.”

Professor, thank you for representing Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. Your leadership and legal expertise will continue to bring great things to the Georgia legal community.

Dr. Ortega Announced as Keynote Speaker for National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges 83rd Annual Conference

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Associate Dean of Career Services and Professional Development, Dr. Bridgett Ortega, has been announced as the opening keynote speaker for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges 83rd Annual Conference on July 20, 2020.

Dr. Ortega’s session on Compassionate Jurisprudence will help to set the tone for the conference and inspire change. This topic is of particular interest to Dr. Ortega as it is also the title of her dissertation: Compassionate Jurisprudence: As Praxis for Justice

Dr. Ortega is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and is currently the equity and inclusion officer for the Georgia affiliate of the ACLU. She has spent more than 30 years working for criminal and juvenile justice reform and is a national trainer on subjects dealing with juvenile and adult drug courts, domestic violence, equity, and inclusion, improving outcomes for children of the incarcerated, and is an expert in juvenile justice. As a law professor, she has taught ethics, trial skills, criminal and juvenile justice, and experiential learning courses. Dr. Ortega also spearheaded the creation of the Homeless Veterans Legal Clinic at AJMLS and collaborated with AJMLS students to develop and write Home for Good: Overcoming Legal Barriers to Reentry in Georgia, a self-help guide designed to answer practical, legal questions to help citizens successfully remain in their community. 

Previously in May, Dr. Ortega spoke at another national conference, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals RISE20. Her session at this conference was also entitled Compassionate Jurisprudence. The conference program described her session as,

Little is understood about human-centered judging or how judging with compassion impacts everyone in the courtroom. Given this lack of understanding, an action research study was conducted to explore how human-centered judging affected the thoughts, communications, and behaviors of 32 adult drug court judges. This workshop will explore the themes discovered that support a more compassionate approach to justice in our system of American jurisprudence.

Thank you, Dr. Ortega, for sharing your expertise and passion both in and out of the classroom. Your research is making a difference and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law students are receiving invaluable instruction from you.

Meet the Atlanta’s John Marshall 2020-2021 Executive Board

Promiss Yarber, President

Where were you raised: I was raised in Macon, Georgia.

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I completed my undergraduate education at Georgia Southern University.

What are your future career plans: My future career plans include being a practicing personal injury attorney and doing pro bono work with the public defender’s office.

What do you look forward to as the SBA President: I most look forward to hearing from students and creating a positive change through open communication with students and faculty. 

What are your goals in the position this academic year: My goals in this position this academic year is to promote healthy social and academic life here at Atlanta John Marshall and making positive strides to increase bar passage rate and students confidence in taking this exam.

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I would like my classmates to know that I am here for them and open to any suggestions and critiques that they may have. We are all in this together striving to achieve the same goals so we should all work together to accomplish this.

Edward Hardrick, Vice President

Where were you raised: I was born in Alabama, but raised in Grayson, Georgia.

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I graduated from the University of North Georgia with a Bachelor’s in Political Science.

What are your future career plans: I plan on practicing Business Law as a litigator.

What do you look forward to as the Vice President: I plan on continuing to establish the culture of study within our school by implementing plans and programs produced by the collaborative effort of the SBA and faculty.

What are your goals in the position this academic year: Establish  programs within the school that cultivate bar exam skills such as essay writing and MBE strategy that assist every student from 1L year until 3L year. What do you want your classmates to know about you: I am dedicated to the betterment of our school and student body.

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I am dedicated to the betterment of our school and student body.

Mario Pereira, Treasurer

Where were you raised: I was born in Cali, Colombia. I immigrated to the United States when I was two-years-old, and grew up in West Orange, New Jersey. I later moved to Buford, Georgia during my junior year of high school. 

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I completed my undergraduate degree with a major in criminology at Barry University which is located in Miami, Florida.

What are your future career plans: My goal is to eventually start my own practice and specialize in both immigration law and criminal defense. I also hope to grow my nonprofit organization “United Voices Foundation” which I started with Carolina Arias Cediel, a fellow John Marshall student.

What do you look forward to as the SBA Treasurer: I look forward to fostering better relationships within our John Marshall community. I want to help our student organizations with planning different events that will increase student involvement. I am also looking forward to our next Barrister’s Ball! The SBA Board has many exciting plans for this upcoming academic year. 

What are your goals in the position this academic year: As SBA Treasurer my priority will be to provide our students with the resources they need to be successful in their academics. My goal this year is to organize more events that will provide our students with study tools and information on how to prepare for the bar. 

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I want my classmates to know that I am very approachable and always open to hearing any concerns they may have. As a member of the SBA Executive Board, it is my duty to be of service to my fellow classmates. 

Brianna Smith, Secretary

Where were you raised: I was raised in Brooklyn, New York

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: Howard University 

What are your future career plans: I aspire to be an entertainment lawyer, and prayerfully begin a non-profit organization for wrongfully incarcerated juveniles.  

What do you look forward to as the SBA Secretary: I look forward to more participation from students at our events. I also look forward to programs that will help with our bar passage rates. 

What are your goals in the position this academic year: I would like to help cultivate new programs and engagement amongst the student body. 

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I would like my classmates to know that I am willing to listen and help them achieve any goals they may have at John Marshall. I would like them to know that they are not alone in any obstacle they may face.

Whitnie Carter, Parliamentarian

Where were you raised: I was raised in Woodstock, Georgia. 

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Pre-Law at Georgia State University. 

What are your future career plans: Ideally, I want to practice Intellectual Property and Sports and Entertainment Law primarily assisting athletes, artists, and others protect their brand, negotiate deals, and understand their rights.

What do you look forward to as the SBA Parliamentarian: I look forward to maintaining order at any and all meetings pursuant to Robert’s Rules of Order, and being a helping hand to our board, the students, and administration. 

What are your goals in the position this academic year: My personal goal for the 2020-2021 academic year is to allow transparency and provide as much feedback to students to allow them to have the best law school experience as we make this transition to non-profit, and continue our initiates to raise bar passage rates. 

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I want my classmates to know, I’m always here to listen and help in any way I can. I aim to be accessible and transparent with anything. We are John Marshall Proud!

Chief Judge and Adjunct Professor Steve Teske Delivers Keynote at State Bar Conference, Publishes Series of Regional and National Journal Articles

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Adjunct Professor and Chief Judge of the Juvenile Court of Clayton County, Steve Teske, has been especially active outside the court and classroom in recent months.

In January, The Child Protection and Advocacy section of the State Bar of Georgia invited Judge Teske to deliver the keynote address at their annual conference. The paper he authored was titled “How Professionalism Can Promote Child Protection and Advocacy Using ‘Procedural Fairness’ as a Court Reform”. The paper thesis is below:

“This paper contends that extending ourselves beyond the minimum standards required of our code of ethics and engaging our clients specifically, and our court system generally, through the lens of professionalism, we can improve the outcomes for our respective clients by : 1) shaping facets of our juvenile justice and child welfare systems to conform to best practices that in turn leads to; 2) producing court orders best suited to meet the needs of our clients (whether a child in a delinquency or dependency case or a parent in a dependency matter); and 3) increase the level of compliance in cases where our client is adjudicated, and is required to be under supervision for re-unification (i.e. parent); probation conditions (delinquent youth); or a child in need of services whether dependent, unruly, or truant.

This paper will focus on a particular model called “Procedural Fairness” as a methodology for exercising the values of professionalism that when employed with fidelity, outcomes for children and for parents will improve dramatically in both the juvenile justice and dependency domains of our juvenile courts. Procedural fairness is not to be confused with due process, procedural or substantive. Like our code of ethics, due process sets forth the minimal rules by which we must afford parties that appropriate modicum of fairness. Procedural fairness is all about professionalism and therefore, goes beyond the minimum. Like our values of professionalism, procedural fairness expects higher standards by which fairness is not only defined by the law, but is measured by the litigant.”

Beginning in late 2019, Judge Teske published a series of articles both regionally and nationally. While he publishes regularly for Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE), this particular series on plea bargaining in the juvenile court began with his piece, “The Contrariness of Plea Bargaining in the Juvenile Courts”, published in December 2019, which was then followed by two more articles published in January 2020 titled “Plea Bargaining Hurts Both Guilty and Innocent Kids” and “To Use Evidence-Based Programs for Kids, Get the Lawyers Out of Here”. After editors at the national quarterly journal, Juvenile Justice Update, took an interest in his thoughts on the subject, they approached Judge Teske to write an additional article, also titled “The Contrariness of Plea Bargaining”.

When asked about the content of this series, Judge Teske kindly summarized for AJMLS,

These series of articles begin with describing plea bargaining, its history and development, and leading into the pros and cons. It is the sharp difference in the role of the juvenile courts–rehabilitation over punishment–that makes plea bargaining a tool that works contrary to the rehabilitative role. To understand this how plea bargaining works conversely to rehabilitation requires an understanding of the “What Works” literature developed over the past nearly three decades, which is a collection of practices and programs proven to reduce recidivism among high-risk offenders and prevent delinquency by taking steps to avoid what I call “hyper-recidivism.” The rub is that many of these evidence-based tools that provide the most informed recommendations for rehabilitation cannot be administered prior to the guilt-innocence stage without violating the child’s 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. In other words, absent these tools, prosecutors and defenders are negotiating dispositions for kids that will be less effective to ward rehabilitation. Thus, plea bargaining should be limited or eliminated altogether as I did in my court as early as 2003 that has played a role in reducing delinquency filings to the court as much as 82 percent.  

Still forthcoming in 2020 will be Judge Teske’s article in Volume 54 Issue 4 of the Georgia Law Review titled “Georgia Juvenile Justice Reform: Using a Collective Decision-Making Approach to De-Politicize Crime and Punishment”. The abstract of the forthcoming article is below:

“Since the creation of the first juvenile court in 1899, juvenile courts have undergone periods of transition in response to legislative enactments prompted by societal events or in response to legal challenges involving due process rights of children. This Article examines the extent to which politics has played a role in shaping juvenile justice and crime policies and its impact on children and public safety. In this critical review of each period of transition, this Article concludes that the lack of success among juvenile justice agencies, including the courts, is predominately the result of the politicizing of crime and punishment in the United States. This politicization consequently disrupts efforts to employ programs and practices that empirical evidence has shown to prevent and reduce delinquency. Using Georgia’s approach to juvenile justice reform as a case study, this Article shows how using a collaborative approach coupled with employing a methodical analytic decisionmaking process de-politicizes the issues, allowing for a discussion of programs and practices that work”. 

Thank you, Judge Teske, for your incredible work in the juvenile courts. Your research and experience brings the very best juvenile law learning experience to Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School students.

Editor’s note: Since publication, Judge Teske’s article in the Georgia Law Review has been published. You may read the full article here.

Atlanta Mayor Appoints Professor Rapping as Co-Chair to Use of Force Advisory Council

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Professor and Director of the Criminal Justice Certificate Program, Jonathan Rapping, was recently appointed by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms as Co-Chair of the new Use of Force Advisory Council in Atlanta. 

Mayor Bottoms issued an Administrative Order to convene an Advisory Council comprised of community members and partners to examine the City’s use of force policies and procedures. The Advisory Council will make recommendations for operational or legislative changes to the City’s existing use of force policies.*

Professor Rapping is not new to inspiring reform, as the President and Founder of non-profit Gideon’s Promise, his work and support to public defender offices across the nation is transforming the criminal justice system. The vision of Gideon’s Promise is We envision a nation where every person has access to zealous, outstanding representation necessary to ensure “equal justice for all” in the criminal justice arena.

On June 3rd, Gideon’s Promise launched its new weekly podcast hosted by Professor Rapping. Gideon’s Promise: The Podcast explores the critical role of public defenders in systemic justice reform. Each episode explores a wide range of issues facing marginalized communities with subject matter experts, key opinion leaders, and people impacted by the American criminal legal system.

Rapping is a passionate educator, both at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and Harvard Law School. Recently, Law360 interviewed him for their Access to Justice series. In the piece, Jon Rapping Talks Pandemics, Protests And Public Defense, he addressed a question specific to teaching:

As a teacher, what do you have to say to law students preparing to enter the workforce during a pandemic and widespread civil unrest over the justice system?

I came to, and remain at, John Marshall because of its mission to prepare students for practice who otherwise would not have access to law school. Roughly half our students are students of color. They are disproportionately impacted by the issues that give rise to the protests we are seeing and disproportionately likely to use their law degrees to address these problems.

At orientation for first-year students, I say to them, at the end of your first year you’ll have read countless cases. But I bet you couldn’t tell me one thing about a single person behind those cases. And that’s because of the way we train lawyers. Good lawyers are people who can mechanically follow a set of steps to arrive at a logical conclusion. When lawyers then enter the system we do the same thing — we see people as cases to resolve and legal issues to address, not as human beings. We dehumanize.

But If we’re going to ever have a criminal justice system that treats people fairly, we have to humanize it. And public defenders are really doing that.

As ongoing national protests against police violence take place, Professor Rapping is an ally and passionate public speaker. He was a keynote speaker this past week at the Public Defenders for Black Lives Rally in Atlanta, hosted by the ACLU of Georgia, Cochran Firm, Gideon’s Promise, and Southern Center for Human Rights. 

Also this past week, Rapping served as one of five panelists for Microsoft’s Criminal Justice Reform Atlanta Forum. This was a partnership between Microsoft’s Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs (CELA) division, the African American/Black Employee Network (AA/BEN), and the Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) employee resource group to host a series of Criminal Justice Reform town halls across our nation. Other panelists included Hip Hop star David Banner, Civil Rights attorney Chris Stewart (represents George Floyd’s family), Doug Ammar, ED of Georgia Justice Project, and Judge Beryl Anderson.

Thank you to Professor Rapping for all that you do, in and out of the classroom. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law students will forever be impacted by your teaching and leadership.

*Press Release: Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Appoints Members to Use of Force Advisory Council

1996 Alumnus, Ben Miller, Jr., Appointed to Griffin Judicial Circuit Superior Court

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates 1996 alumnus, Ben Miller, Jr., on his recent appointment as Superior Court Judge for the Griffin Judicial CIrcuit. Miller will fill the vacancy created by Mack Crawford’s resignation and was appointed on May 1, 2020.

When asked about his success, Miller remarked, “I am humbled. I think I was at the right place at the right time.”

“However, I always practiced law with reverence to the profession and I believe that an attorney’s integrity and reputation are the most valuable traits that one can possess… and not to risk either for any case.”

Miller earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Georgia and has served as an attorney, solicitor, juvenile court judge pro tempore, municipal court judge, associate juvenile court judge, and presiding judge of juvenile court. He is a member of the Sixth Judicial District Alternative Dispute Resolution Board of Directors, Spalding County Collaborative Board of Directors, Thomaston Upson Arts Council, Upson Historical Society, and Thomaston First United Methodist Church. He is also a founding member of the Thomaston-Upson Community Foundation, Inc. and the chairman of the Upson-Pike County Eagle Scout Review Board.

“In a competitive selection process, Ben Miller, Jr. clearly stood out among the candidates, and I am honored to appoint him to serve on the Griffin Judicial Circuit Superior Court,” said Governor Kemp. “He has the right credentials, temperament, and willingness to serve, and I know that he will excel as a member of the Judiciary.”

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is thrilled to celebrate this appointment and wishes Judge Miller continued success on the bench.

Three AJMLS Students Selected as Virtual Judicial Interns with the Georgia Latino Law Foundation (GLLF)

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates three students who were selected for the Summer 2020 Virtual Judicial Interns Class with the Georgia Latino Law Foundation (GLLF).

Ashley Lindsey, 2L, virtual clerk for Judge Temika Murry, Dekalb County Juvenile Court

Mahham Syed, 2L, virtual clerk for Judge Rizza O’Connor, Chief Magistrate Judge, Toombs County

Rochelle Walker, 2L, virtual clerk for Judge John M. De Foor, II, Fulton County Magistrate Court

The Virtual Judicial Internship will be a hybrid mentorship/job opportunity for law students who have lost summer employment plans as a result of Covid-19. The students will have opportunities which may include learning the operation of the courts, conducting research, and working on projects such as writing memos and orders under the supervision of a judge. With a virtual approach, the barriers created by logistics and geography are removed, allowing the students to work for a judge regardless of where the court is physically located. All interns through the program will conduct at least one major research assignment on an emerging legal issue arising from COVID-19 pandemic. Each student will also be assigned an attorney mentor.

Congratulations to our students and thank you to the participating judges for offering the Summer 2020 interns this wonderful opportunity.

A Statement from the Faculty of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School

The willful and wanton murder of George Floyd serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing institutional racial and social injustices in this country. The painful wounds that flow from the unequal administration of justice run deep. In a democratic society, law is the covenant that binds free people together. The legitimacy of that covenant rests on the bedrock of equal protection—the fundamental principle that everyone stands on a level playing field in the eyes of the law. Racism, however, makes equal protection impossible. To mistreat a person on account of that person’s skin color is evil. When that racism takes the form of state-sponsored police brutality, the ties that link us together as fellow citizens sear from the pain of the oppressed.

No one is unaffected. While wrongfully imprisoned by police in a Birmingham jail, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught the world that the infection of inequality lands on each of us: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

We, the faculty of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, denounce the murder of George Floyd and the senseless killing of countless others. We share the heartache of all those who are hurting from the continuing stain of racism. We also stand in solidarity with our many students and alumni who are battling on the front lines to make this country more just. Their example inspires us, and we remain steadfast in our mission of shaping future lawyers dedicated to forging a system of justice that lives up to our nation’s stated, yet unrealized, ideals.The courage and passion of our students and alumni provide hope that the day is near when the constitutional guarantee of equal protection becomes a living, breathing reality for all races.

Atlanta’s John Marshall addresses recent events

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School joins the fight for justice and equality as we mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the countless others who have lost their lives due to racism, fear and police brutality that has plagued our society for far too long. Like many of you, our community feels the pain of the recent incidents that continue to remind us that racism and injustice is real. 

As we strive to make our community more diverse and inclusive, we understand the fear, anger and uncertainty that African Americans and people of color are feeling at this time in our nation’s history. We stand in solidarity with all Americans and communities of black and brown people all over this world who seek to fight for justice and equality. We support all peaceful and nonviolent protests. In the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “[n]onviolence is a powerful and just weapon…”

As we seek to fight injustice and inequality, we must be reminded that the fight is not just in the streets, but also in the courtrooms, the voting booths, the legislature, and countless other places that we in the legal community have the ability to affect. The real work of creating real change happens when real discussion on real issues is a reality. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is committed to the real work. 

Congratulations to Our 2020 Graduates and Award Recipients

The Law School is incredibly proud of its graduates. Your perseverance and resilience during this challenging time is a testament to your professionalism and work ethic. We look forward to following your careers and championing all your future successes.

Valedictorians

This award is given to the valedictorian from each of the school’s divisions (full-time and part-time).

J. Avery Archer, full-time program

Undergraduate Institution: Berry College

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Competing in the Phi Alpha Delta (PAD) mock trial competition.

After the Bar: I plan on starting a law practice immediately after passing the Georgia Bar. 

Fredis Romero, part-time program

Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Gwinnett College, University of North Georgia

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Going out to celebrate with my classmates post final

After the Bar: I’ll be working as an Associate at the Drake & Estes Law Firm after passing the September bar. Long term, I hope to have my own firm and offer my services pro-bono for Immigration Law. 

Outstanding Graduate Awards

This award is given annually to one graduate in each of the school’s divisions (part-time and full-time) who best demonstrates standards of competence and professionalism, a strong social conscience, high ethical standards, and a commitment to the improvement of the legal system and society, as determined by the Faculty on recommendation of the Honors and Awards Committee.

Sydni Marshall, full-time program

Undergraduate Institution: Virginia Commonwealth University

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Winning the title for the first ever Miss Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Pageant.

After the Bar: My plan after the bar exam is to continue my employment, as an associate attorney, with The Cochran Firm Atlanta and to become one of the greatest civil rights litigators in the country. I also plan to develop an organization for at-risk youth in my hometown, Richmond, Virginia, who want to pursue a career in law. The program would assist these students by providing them with internships, mentorships, and other resources to help them along the way. My ultimate dream, however, is to be happy and successful, all while remaining John Marshall Proud!

Bianca Taraschi, part-time program

Undergraduate Institution: Florida Atlantic University

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Any and every story told by Professor Mears, and working at the library and always seeing and interacting with so many of my friends, classmates, and professors. Also meeting some of the best girl friends I could find and knowing that we will be friends forever

Plans after graduation: I am currently studying for the July UBE in South Carolina and am unsure of post-bar plans. I always said I never wanted to practice law, but more so go into a federal agency such as the FBI or DEA as a special agent or a federal attorney. Right now I just want to pass the bar and I trust that what God has for me next, He will make it very clear as to where I should be and what I should be doing. 

American Bankruptcy Institute Medal of Excellence

This award is presented to the student with the highest grade in a bankruptcy course or other area of bankruptcy scholarship.

Sasha Robinson

Undergraduate Institution: Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM)

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Law school orientation where I met some of my closest friends.

After the Bar:  I plan to work at a personal injury law firm, and eventually, start my own law practice. 

Excellence In Appellate Advocacy

This award is given to the outstanding student participant on a John Marshall Law School moot court competition team.

Kristen MacKenzie

Undergraduate Institution: Oglethorpe University

Favorite AJMLS Memory: During the construction of the building next door I was studying in the law library next to a window, there was a sudden explosive racket as a crane dropped a load of metal studs which landed on about the 4th or 5th floor of the new building with force. I jumped out of my chair and my study partner goes, “Well, there’s your tort hypo…” and goes right back to reading.

After the Bar: I would like to owe my own practice one day.

Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Custer-Tuggle Award for Excellence in Family Law

This award is presented to a student at each of the Georgia law schools who has exhibited outstanding achievement in the area of family law study and who plans on practicing family law upon graduation.

Maya Jeanpierre

Undergraduate Institution: Clark-Atlanta University

Favorite AJMLS Memory: I have many favorite memories of law school, but two of the most empowering experiences were:

The first time I was cold-called in Professor Van Detta’s Contracts I class and I was able to articulate the elements of promissory estoppel correctly.
Working with Dean Ortega and Mr. Wilson in the Experiential Learning Program and learning so much about family law while gaining invaluable experience in the overall practice of law.

After the Bar: Someday I would like to own a Family Law and Estate Planning practice, but that is a goal much further down the road. Shorter-term, I am dedicated to expanding my knowledge of family law so that I can advocate for those in need of legal services. I also plan to resume activities from my pre-law school life; traveling and experiencing new cultures, enjoying time with friends and family, and restarting hobbies I haven’t had time to enjoy while in law school.

Excellence in Pro Bono

This award is given to those students whose pro bono hours are among the top 10% earned in the graduating class. This award is not merit-based.

Kathryn Emig

Undergraduate Institution: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Working in the Office of Admissions.

After the Bar: I plan on working at an immigration law firm and becoming certified in Spanish.

Breeahna Gresham

Undergraduate Institution: Clark Atlanta University

Favorite AJMLS Memory: When I started AJMLS during orientation, Professor Rapping spoke and he said what you came to law school to study would not be what you leave here wanting to do. I remember sitting there looking at him like he does not know what he is talking about and I will be a prosecutor. Little did I know he was talking directly to me. I became apart of the Criminal Justice Certificate Program, took his classes, bombarded him during his office hours, and now I’m on the pathway to becoming a public defender and gained one heck of a mentor in Professor Rapping.  

After the Bar: My plan after the bar is to work in the public defenders office and become apart of Gideon’s Promise.

Chelsie Hinton

Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Southern University

Favorite AJMLS Memory: I have two. The first is getting to meet Stacy Abrams and hear her speak at the fundraiser for the Georgia lawyer chapter of the American Constitution Society. The second is participating in Professor Burch’s civil liberties seminar in education law. That course provided me the opportunity to meet with various community leaders, practice brief writing, and most importantly make a lasting impact on the young people we were helping.

After the Bar: My wildest dream is to be a co-host on The View and have the lawyer chair like Sunny Hostin or Star Jones (I love discussing politics). In the meantime I plan on practicing family law or being a real estate closing attorney.

Robert Leone

Undergraduate institution: University of North Georgia

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Getting to know the students, faculty, and staff at AJMLS. Everyone I met was awesome and I made many new friends.

After the Bar: Practice criminal defense in North Georgia

Sydni Marshall

Undergraduate Institution: Virginia Commonwealth University

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Winning the title for the first ever Miss Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Pageant.

After the Bar: My plan after the bar exam is to continue my employment, as an associate attorney, with The Cochran Firm Atlanta and to become one of the greatest civil rights litigators in the country. I also plan to develop an organization for at-risk youth in my hometown, Richmond, Virginia, who want to pursue a career in law. The program would assist these students by providing them with internships, mentorships, and other resources to help them along the way. My ultimate dream, however, is to be happy and successful, all while remaining John Marshall Proud!

Marie Wofford Sussenbach

Undergraduate Institution: Kennesaw State University

Favorite AJMLS Memory: So thankful for our evening division and the incredible bond we created together during this journey. My favorite moments were spent over-analyzing EVERYTHING in our GroupMe, in and out of school. 

After the Bar: Continuing to work on federal litigation cases, likely in the area of Intellectual Property. Eventually I’d also like to serve as a Guardian Ad Litem on child abuse cases – the area of interest that brought me to law in the first place. 

Traci Trippe

Undergraduate Institution: Kennesaw State University

Favorite AJMLS Memory: When I got the email requesting my participation in the peer mentor program, I realized that no matter how far we have come, how much or how little we have, we always have something to contribute. That request marked a change in the direction of my career and sense of community at John Marshall. Service is inherent in the legal profession, and the most important work I will do as both an attorney and a member of the community. 

After the Bar: I plan to work in public service.

Georgia Association for Women Lawyers Outstanding Graduate Award

This award is given to a woman from each Georgia law school based on academic accomplishments and contributions to women’s issues.

Teana Overton

Undergraduate Institution: Longwood University

Favorite AJMLS Memory: It is a difficult task to pick just one memory as my favorite. Earning awards, winning titles, and learning complex material were all memorable. However, nothing will compare to the lifelong friendships I have made with my AJMLS family. 

After the Bar: I plan to work as an attorney representing injured persons while continuing my education. This fall, I will start graduate school part-time to earn my masters in Social Foundations of Education. Eventually, I plan on earning my Doctorates degree in education and establish a program to assist and mentor first generation students like myself.

Edward J. Henning Award for Excellence in Dispute Resolution

This award is given to an outstanding ADR student at each of the state’s five ABA-accredited law schools. These awards are given in memory of Ed Henning, one of the “founding fathers” of mediation in Georgia.

Chelsie Hinton

Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Southern University

Favorite AJMLS Memory: I have two. The first is getting to meet Stacy Abrams and hear her speak at the fundraiser for the Georgia lawyer chapter of the American Constitution Society. The second is participating in Professor Burch’s civil liberties seminar in education law. That course provided me the opportunity to meet with various community leaders, practice brief writing, and most importantly make a lasting impact on the young people we were helping.

After the Bar: My wildest dream is to be a co-host on The View and have the lawyer chair like Sunny Hostin or Star Jones (I love discussing politics). In the meantime I plan on practicing family law or being a real estate closing attorney.

The Honorable Harold R. Banke Advocacy Award

This award is given to the outstanding student participant on a mock trial competition team.

J. Avery Archer

Undergraduate Institution: Berry College

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Competing in the Phi Alpha Delta (PAD) mock trial competition.

After the Bar: I plan on starting a law practice immediately after passing the Georgia Bar. 

Bryce Bell

Undergraduate Institution: University of the Cumberlands

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Competing in the Phi Alpha Delta Mock Trial competition in Washington D.C.

After the Bar: I plan on working for a criminal defense attorney in downtown Atlanta.

Hunter Burkhalter

Milissa Fisher

Undergraduate Institution: Southern New Hampshire University 

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Studying for finals with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. John Marshall Proud!

After the Bar: After passing the bar, I plan to open my own firm, and to continue my pro bono work within the community. 

The Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears Pro Bono Award

The highest award is given to the student whose pro bono service had the greatest impact or who completed the highest overall pro bono hours.

Teana Overton

Undergraduate Institution: Longwood University

Favorite AJMLS Memory: It is a difficult task to pick just one memory as my favorite. Earning awards, winning titles, and learning complex material were all memorable. However, nothing will compare to the lifelong friendships I have made with my AJMLS family. 

After the Bar: I plan to work as an attorney representing injured persons while continuing my education. This fall, I will start graduate school part-time to earn my masters in Social Foundations of Education. Eventually, I plan on earning my Doctorates degree in education and establish a program to assist and mentor first generation students like myself.

National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Law Student Award

This award is given to a third-year law student who who best exemplifies the following characteristics:

  • Contributes to the advancement of women in society
  • Promotes issues and concerns of women in the legal profession
  • Exhibits motivation, tenacity, and enthusiasm
  • Demonstrates high academic achievement
  • Earns the respect of the faculty and administration

Jessica Swords Burton

Undergraduate Institutions: Gainesville State College, University of North Georgia

Favorite AJMLS Memory: I can’t just pinpoint one event. I’m going to have to say first semester. Very exciting and new. I got to meet really good people who grew to be friends, and I had never worked so hard in my life, and that was very fulfilling. 

After the Bar: I hope to work in criminal defense, and hopefully work my way into focusing on post-conviction appellate work, especially for indigent defendants. 

Pro Bono Distinction

This distinction is given to students who have completed 75 hours or more of pro bono work during their law school career.

Paige Duncan

Undergraduate Institution: The University of South Alabama

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Barrister’s Ball

After the Bar: My plan after the bar is to work in the area of corporate/business law in Georgia. 

Ekram Ismael

Undergraduate Institution: University of Colorado Denver

Favorite AJMLS Memory: All the good laughs and inside jokes I experienced with my evening cohort.

After the Bar: I plan to pursue a career in Entertainment Law or as a Criminal Defense Attorney after passing the September bar.

Fredis Romero

Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Gwinnett College, University of North Georgia

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Going out to celebrate with my classmates post final

After the Bar: I’ll be working as an Associate at the Drake & Estes Law Firm after passing the September bar. Long term, I hope to have my own firm and offer my services pro-bono for Immigration Law. 

Bryce Stephens

Undergraduate Institution: University of Georgia

Favorite AJMLS Memory: Barrister’s Ball

After the Bar: My dream after the bar exam is to practice with immigration law or international dispute resolution in Georgia.

December 2019 and May 2020 Graduates

Nikita Ali
Jarrett A. Archer, summa cum laude
Amber R. Austin
Mahjula Bah-Kamara
Joseph McCarroll Banks
Brittany Elizabeth Bard
Bryce A. Bell
Jonathan S Blackwell
Keona M. Blunt
Gregory W. Bowen Jr., cum laude
Brittany M. Bromfield
Hunter M. Burkhalter, cum laude
Jessica Swords Burton, cum laude
Jada S. Butler, cum laude
Mayara Q. Carvalho
Carol Chapman
Elizabeth G. Chapman
Sana A. Cheema
Jayla Cooley
Angela M. Cross
Austin Christopher Dabney
Logan F. Dale
Stephanie J. Dennis
Abhish Desai
Somalia D. Dixon
Paige Duncan
Rosa Dunkley
James D. Elliott
Kathryn E. Emig, cum laude
Angelica L. Evans
Thomas W. Farmer
Melanie N. Fenley, cum laude
Milissa M. Fisher, cum laude
John L. Gibson
Shaniqua C. Golding
Breeahna H. Gresham
Ashley D. Hamby
Robert M. Hamilton
Breana L Hampton
Isaiah I. Harry
Cassie N. Hartpence
Jeremy P. Harville
Dallas L. Hawkins
Aisha A. Hill
Taneris T. Hill
Chelsie C. Hinton
Jeremy B. Holmes
Vladimir Holmes
Kiyana Hunt
Ekram Ismael
Maya Jihan Jeanpierre
Terence D. John
Bethany N. Johnston
Jessica Kortman
Robert Leone, magna cum laude
Margaret J. Long
Joseph E. Lynch
Dillon R. Mackel
Kristen L. MacKenzie
Awa F. Marenah
Sydni S. Marshall
Sabrina Martin
Ashley Mashburn
Pamela McCloud
Melissa J. Mckinney
Hali R. Minter
Alix Orlando
Teana S. Overton
Ariel M. Patrick
Nicholas Pope, magna cum laude
Belinda Ramon
Courtney N. Rickles
Chanceity Robinson
Rasheda Robinson
Sasha S. Robinson
Sydney Robinson
Fredis Romero, cum laude
Marta Romero
Cierra Nicole Shope-Rushton, cum laude
Christopher James Smith
Shauki Smith
Rebekah A. Sprayberry
Bryce A. Stephens
Lauren B. Tapp
Bianca L. Taraschi
Lauren E. Thompson
Traci E. Trippe, cum laude
Sydney Tucker
Angel S. White
Marie Wofford Sussenbach

2011 Alumna, Ashley Gholamhosseini, Appointed Fulton County Magistrate Judge

Chief Judge Cassandra Kirk (left), Judge Ashley Gholamhosseini (right)*

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates Ashley Gholamhosseini, Class of 2011, for her recent appointment as a Fulton County magistrate judge.

Gholamhosseini, who was appointed to the Fulton County Magistrate Court bench on May 8, 2020, said “This opportunity to serve the citizens of the county where I was born and where I proudly live means the world to me. I am humbled by the task before me. There is work to be done, and I am grateful for the trust Chief Judge Cassandra Kirk has placed in me.”

An Atlanta native, Gholamhosseini graduated in the top 15 of her class at Atlanta’s John Marshall. She was a member of the moot court team where she competed nationally and also served on the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law Journal where her legislative summary was published in 2011. She also received the CALI Award for Immigration Law and received academic scholarships from Just the Beginning Foundation and the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers Foundation. In 2011, She and four other students were named Peer Mentors of the year for mentoring 1L and 2L students at AJMLS. During law school, Gholamhosseini externed under the Third Year Practice Act at the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office and the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.

The future Judge Gholamhosseini began her legal career as a prosecuting attorney for Georgia’s two most populous counties. As a criminal prosecutor, she gained a significant amount of trial experience and helped thousands of crime victims. Her trial experience let to her joining Bey & Associates’ litigation department as a trial attorney in their Atlanta office. She later joined Bader Scott Injury Lawyers as a trial attorney and attorney captain in their personal injury department.

Gholamhosseini is a member of the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers (GAWL). She successfully completed the prestigious ATLA Ultimate Trial Advocacy Course: Art of Persuasion at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA and was a featured panelist at the American Association for Justice, Women’s Caucus in Denver Colorado.

Gholamhosseini resides in Atlanta with her husband Michael Drake, Esq.

The Law School is so proud of Judge Gholamhosseini and we look forward to following her career on the bench!

*Photo courtesy of Timothy Ezell

Christian Legal Society Honored for Spring 2020

The Office of Student Affairs is proud to award the Spring 2020 Outstanding Student Organization of the Semester Award to the Christian Legal Society. 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 the Christian Legal Society sponsored this semester:

  • Faith in the First Week
  • Black History Month Church & Brunch (Co-Sponsored with SBA & BLSA)
  • Weekly Scripture of the Week
  • Prayer Request Box
  • Bible Study Brunch (“Overcoming the Idea of Impossible”)
  • Winter Survival Blessing Bags 

The Selection Committee was impressed by the effort and hard work of the Christian Legal Society. Congratulations, Christian Legal Society on being chosen as the Spring 2020 Outstanding Student Organization. We look forward to continuing to work with all of you to make the law school and the community better! 

July 2020 Georgia Bar Exam Postponed

In the light of the uncertainty about the duration of the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 in Georgia and throughout the United States and the extent to which public health may require the continuation for several months of measures to impede the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and after consultation with the Department of Public Health, the Supreme Court of Georgia has determined that the July 2020 administration of the Georgia bar examination should be postponed.

To the extent that circumstances permit the administration of the bar examination in September 2020, the Court has directed the Board of Bar Examiners and the Office of Bar Admissions to make the necessary arrangements for the administration of the bar examination on September 9 and 10.

The full executive order from the Court may be read here, including information on provisional admittance to the Georgia Bar.

Winter preLaw Magazine Names Atlanta’s John Marshall Among Best Law Schools for Diversity

Providing a diverse learning environment for students is important to the faculty and administration at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS). While this diversity enriches the academic environment, it also challenges the law school to meet the educational needs of students, many of whom are either returning to the rigors of an academic experience, or are simply seeking a supportive environment for the study of law. Therefore, it is a great honor for preLaw Magazine to name Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School one of their most diverse law schools in the nation for African Americans in their winter issue.

According to the publication, “Not only do these schools boast a high number of students of a particular race – as well as having a diverse faculty – but they also offer a wide range of support for their minority students.” The 2019-2020 student enrollment is 66% female and 66% minority and the 2019 entering class is 59% female and 52% minority.

We thank preLaw Magazine for this recognition and are incredibly proud of our diverse and welcoming community. 

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School – different on purpose.

AJMLS Alumnus and Students Volunteer at 10th Annual Young Litigators Moot Court Competition

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) participated in the 10th Annual Young Litigators Moot Court Competition this past Friday, March 6, 2020. The event was held at the Fulton County Government Center Assembly Hall.

Tracy Swearingen, Class of 2016, volunteered his time as the coach of Crawford Long Middle School’s team (Nicholas Andrews, Xyion Amani Hudson, Jeronimo Dye, Hannah Dillard), who compete against King Middle School and Genesis Innovation Academy.

Additionally, second year students Melanie Finley and Yvette Hill volunteered as student coaches for The Life School’s team (Maymuna Sabree, Azad Earl, Nurayah Deen, Kiley Domineck, Ammanah Deen), who compete against Berkmar High School, Fulton Leadership Academy, and Grady High School. Notably, Maymuna Sabree of The Life School was awarded the Overall Advocacy Award.

The scoring criteria that were considered in the competition were: substantive content of argument, knowledge of the record, extemporaneous ability and attention to time limit, courtroom demeanor and professionalism, words clearly spoken and correct pronunciation, proper sense stress and voice modulation, enthusiasm for argument and warmth and feeling, naturalness and appropriate pausing, principal ideas and arguments emphasized, and visual contact. 

Congratulations to all the teams for an excellent competition, we look forward to next year!

As a pro bono activity, Dr. Bridgett Ortega, Associate Dean of Career Services and Professional Development, and Paul Wilson, Experiential Learning Program Administrator, volunteered alongside the students. The Law School is pleased to volunteer in the community and offer pro bono experiences to its students and alumni.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Welcomes Kwaku C. George to the Board of Directors

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is pleased to announce the appointment of Kwaku C. George (KC), a Director of the National Development Council (NDC), to the Board of Directors. George’s background in the for profit, public, and non-profit sectors bring unique perspective to the Law School as it is currently converting to a non-profit institution.

The NDC is one of the nation’s oldest and most experienced not-for-profit corporations specializing in community and economic development financing and real estate development strategies. George provides his expertise through providing technical assistance to NDC’s clients ranging from municipalities, affordable and mixed income housing developers, nonprofit housing organizations, housing authorities, and universities. George also provides advisory client services that are directly related to real estate based financing and community economic development solutions. George delivers services in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South and Puerto Rico on the East Team at NDC.

George is involved with various organizations such as Invest Atlanta’s AEMI/New Market Tax Credit Advisory Board, Atlanta Regional Councils Social Equity Advisory Committee, 2008 Leadership Atlanta Class, the Regional Leadership Institute Class of 2003, Housing Partnership Network, National Affordable Housing Lenders, Urban Land Institute, Council for Urban Economic Development and Opportunity Finance Network, and is pursuing his Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation. He has also provided consultation to the US Treasury/CDFI Fund, HUD and the EPA on programs such as New Market Tax Credit Initiative, the Economic Development Initiative, the Brownfield Economic Development Initiative, and the Section 108 Loan Program.

Prior to his current role at NDC, he was the Senior Director of Housing Finance and Administration for the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc. (ANDP) and Community Redevelopment Loan and Investment Fund (CRLIF). George also brings nearly three decades of experience from former posts such as SunTrust Bank, Barnett Bank, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc., and Metro-Dade County/Miami Dade County and the Environmental Protection Agency. The sum of these experiences in the for profit, public and non-profit sectors encompass corporate and commercial lending, economic development, housing finance and development, real estate development, strategic planning and sound financial management.

George earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration concentrating in Banking and Finance, minoring in Economics from Morehouse College. He is also a Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government fellow who completed the Community Builder Fellowship and Management Program for executives. George has been an Atlanta resident for the past 31 years with his wife, Karissa, and three children, Bakari, Josiah, and Abrielle.

George joins the following members of the Board of Directors:

Dr. Michael C. Markovitz, Ph.D.

Chairman

Dean Frank T. Read

Vice Chairman

President & Dean Emeritus, South Texas College of Law

Honorable Carol W. Hunstein

Former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia

Adam Malone

Partner, Malone Law

Patrise M. Perkins-Hooker

County Attorney, Fulton County, Georgia

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

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Information

The Law School is actively monitoring the situation and is keeping the well-being of our community our top priority. Dean Gatewood will be communicating by email with all updates, which will also be summarized below. We are currently following the lead of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), as well as other local, state, and federal agencies to make sure we have the most up-to-date information available.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may resemble the common cold or seasonal flu, which is a far greater risk this time of year. The best way to prevent infection with any respiratory virus is to use the same preventative strategies used during a normal cold and flu season: get a flu shot, wash hands regularly, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay home when experiencing symptoms of illness until they resolve. It is important to remember that viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities or racial backgrounds and this type of stigma should be avoided.

Note: you must be signed into your AJMLS email account to access the graphic links below

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II, known as HEERF II (updated 3/1/2021)

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (updated 3/31/20)

CDC COVID-19 Page

How it spreads (CDC)

Symptoms (CDC)

Prevention and treatment (CDC)

Frequently asked questions (CDC)

Georgia Department of Public Health COVID-19 Page

June 9, 2021 Vaccination Update

Dear Students:

I hope this email finds you well and that you are preparing for a terrific summer. With final exams behind us, we are in the midst of planning for relocating and for re-opening in the fall at our new facility, One Marquise Tower. The recent data from the CDC and other local governments, and recent actions by the Governor, have been influential in allowing us to develop a plan for the fall semester. Based upon the latest CDC guidance regarding fully vaccinated individuals, and after conferring with the Board of Directors, and the Deans of many independent law schools like ours, we are planning to return to normal operations in August. In doing so, we will implement a vaccination requirement (with medical and religious exemptions, including pregnancy) for all faculty, staff, and students. Please refer to the Policy regarding requests for exemptions or to provide proof of vaccination.

Students with exemptions will be accommodated consistent with student accommodations afforded students who need accommodations due to illness or other afflictions that prevent them from attending class. In no event shall accommodations include hybrid, online, remote or distance education options.

Any student that refuses to be vaccinated and does not otherwise qualify for an exemption will be treated similar to those with exemptions. Students needing accommodations should contact Associate Dean Barger (jbarger@johnmarshall.edu) for further details.

July 1, 2020 Fall 2020 Update

Dear Students:

First, I hope you and your families are all well and safe.  As I am sure you are aware, the trajectory of the pandemic is of increasing concern, statewide and nationally. And I know that you, like many across the globe, are feeling the impacts in your personal and professional lives. In light of this, I write to share important news about the coming Fall semester. 

After careful consideration and continued evaluation of the current Coronavirus situation, I have decided that the entire Fall 2020 semester will be taught remotely. This decision was not an easy one, but it was one that needed to be made now to give everyone some level of certainty and to provide ample opportunity to adjust your schedules and prepare for the fall. Our paramount responsibility during this time is the health and safety of our entire Law School community.

While courses will be taught remotely, the Law School will be open and there may be a time in which you may need to visit the campus to access the Library or other services, or for limited face-to-face meetings with faculty, staff, or administrators. In these cases, the Law School has developed a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan applicable to the entire Law School Community. Our COVID-19 Preparedness Plan follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) guidelines, federal OSHA standards related to COVID-19 and Executive Order 20-48.

Below is a list of pertinent provisions applicable to students while visiting the Law School so long as the Plan is in effect:

  • Students are encouraged to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Students are required to execute and return the COVID-19 Acknowledgement (see email from Dean Gatewood), acknowledging the that they are aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and commit to self-monitor and report any symptoms to an Associate Dean before entering the Law School. Students who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are required to notify an Associate Dean and stay home until they are free of fever (100.4°F or greater using an oral thermometer), have no signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Students who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify an Associate Dean and seek further direction. Students will have access to a touch-less forehead/ temporal artery thermometer to self-check their temperature if they should become ill or sick while at the Law School. Any student who reports a fever (100.4°F or greater) shall be sent home and shall not be allowed to return to the Law School until: 
  • He or she has had no fever for at least three (3) days without taking medication to reduce fever during that time; AND
  • Any respiratory symptoms (cough and shortness of breath) have improved; AND
  • At least fourteen (14) days have passed since the symptoms began.
  • A student may return to school earlier if a doctor confirms the cause of a student’s fever or other symptoms is not COVID-19 and releases the student to return to school in writing.
  • Basic infection prevention measures will be implemented at the Law School at all times. Students shall wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water frequently throughout the day. All students will be required to wash or sanitize their hands prior to or immediately upon entering the Law School. Hand-sanitizer dispensers (that use sanitizers of greater than 60% alcohol) will be placed at the entrance and throughout the Law School so it can be used for hand hygiene in place of soap and water.
  • All students shall be required to wear a mask while in common areas of the Law School, including classrooms, library, hallways, stairwells, elevators, and restrooms. 
  • Social distancing of six feet will be implemented and maintained between employees, students, and visitors in the school, including the library and classrooms whenever possible.

Until the start of school, on August 10, 2020, the Law School will remain closed to students except by a prior scheduled appointment with a faculty member, staff member, or administrator. However, the Library will reopen Monday, July 6, 2020 exclusively for recent graduates who will be taking the September bar exam. The hours of the Library will be Monday-Thursday, 10:00am to 4:00pm. You must make an appointment with a member of the Library staff, either AJ Doucett (ajdoucett@johnmarshall.edu) or Mary Wilson (mewilson@johnmarshall.edu) to visit the Library. 

Although this Plan provides a level of certainty regarding Fall 2020 instruction, I realize that the changes I am announcing will be welcome news to some and disappointing to others. I spoke at length with the senior leadership team, and we wrestled with the issues and conflicting interests inherent in this situation. Our decision affirms prioritizing the health and safety of our students and other community members.

Dean Boone and the Registrar’s Office will follow up with additional information about instruction, registration, grading, and exams. For now, please note the Law School will return to traditional grading scales. As Dean Boone will explain, Fall 2020 exams will be either online or take‐home, as designated by your professor, though we may adopt remote‐proctoring software that supports closed‐book exams for some classes, including bar classes, if available.

We will not reduce tuition, despite the switch to all‐remote courses this fall. The cost of providing an outstanding legal education for our students is essentially the same, whether it is delivered in person or online. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, our faculty and staff will provide students with an innovative and engaging educational experience—one that builds community and fully prepares students for a successful professional career.

I want to thank you for your patience and wish you well as you plan for the year ahead. I look forward to seeing many of you on campus in the fall, even if classes are remote. I remain hopeful that the spring will bring solid ground on which to build more in‐person instructional choices. You have all shown great patience, resilience, and fortitude, which lives up to the School’s hashtag #JohnMarshallProud. 

Dean Gatewood

April 17, 2020 Georgia Bar Exam Update

The Georgia Supreme Court has made the important decision to postpone the July 2020 Georgia Bar Exam. Please read the full post and read the executive order here.

April 2, 2020 Law School Update

Yesterday, the Governor of the State of Georgia issued a statewide shelter-in-place order effective Friday, April 3, 2020, until April 13, 2020. As such, the Law School building will be closed until April 13, 2020. Distance learning is not impacted by this physical closure. Please check your email frequently for updates.

March 18, 2020 Law School Update

Based upon the most recent recommendations from the CDC, and local and national governmental officials, the best course during this time is for everyone to stay home. Effective immediately, the building will be closed to all students and visitors (other than deliveries) except by previous appointment. Students wishing to use the library or other resources, such as the computer lab or Zoom rooms, must make an appointment with AJ Doucett or Mary Wilson for library services, or Dean Boone or Dean Barger for other services or needs, or your professor. No student should come to the building without having made a previous appointment with someone who will be present on campus and available to you. When present on campus, students should practice “social distancing” and vacate the building as soon as your business on campus has been concluded. Most meetings that might have otherwise happened face-to-face will be held by telephone or Zoom video conference until further notice.

Faculty and Staff will still have access to the building to conduct essential work. Students should use email to communicate with the various departments in which they have business. 

Of course, any face-to-face meeting or events that were scheduled during this time are canceled. As members of the community, we must all exercise caution for the betterment of society. This is bigger and more important than all of us, but if we do our small part, we become a part of the solution and not the problem.

Please continue to review your email and social media sites for continuous updates.

March 18, 2020 Course Delivery Update

The Law School will begin offering all courses through virtual learning principally through Zoom technology, beginning Monday, March 23, 2020. However, some professors may choose another form of online teaching, such as TWEN live chat or recorded lectures uploaded to TWEN, Google Drive, or sent via email. Courses that were already online will continue using the same format. Each Professor will notify you as to how they intend to conduct their particular class. Unless otherwise advised by your professor, classes will be conducted on the same days and times as your normal class schedule. We will be operating in the virtual format for the remainder of the semester and through final exams. Please monitor your emails and TWEN site frequently for updates from your professor regarding your course.

Most Professors will opt to use Zoom Technology. A Zoom account isn’t required to attend a meeting. Users do need a Zoom account to host a meeting, but anyone can join a meeting by clicking on the zoom link sent to you by your professor. When you join a zoom meeting for the first time, the necessary zoom app will download into your device automatically. You also may manually download the necessary apps by clicking on the following link: https://zoom.us/download. If you don’t have a computer, you may access the zoom app through a mobile app, which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store for Android users or Apple Store for Apple users.

To ensure a pleasant experience with your first Zoom Meeting, we highly encourage students to download and install the Zoom Application beforehand. 

To download and install the Zoom Application:

  • Go to https://zoom.us/download and from the Download Center, click on the Downloadbutton under “Zoom Client For Meetings”.
    • This application will automatically download when you start your first Zoom Meeting.
  • Once the download is complete, proceed with installing the Zoom application onto your computer or mobile device.

Below is a link of Zoom Video Tutorials that you may find useful as you navigate our new virtual reality for the remainder of the semester. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your Professors if you have any additional questions regarding your particular course.

https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206618765-Zoom-Video-Tutorials

March 12, 2020 Library Update

Please see following Library Hours for remainder of the week and next week (Spring Break):

Thursday, March 12 through Friday, March 13: Library staff will respond to the doorbell from noon until 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 14 through Sunday, March 15: Closed

Monday, March 16 through Thursday, March 19: Library staff will respond to the doorbell from noon until 7:00 p.m.

Friday, March 20 through Sunday, March 22: Closed

Monday, March 23: To be announced, depending on class schedule and building closing times.

March 12, 2020 Law School Update

Dear Law School Community:

We are fortunate to have no known cases of COVID-19 within our community. Though we continue to believe the risk of transmission on our campus is currently low, we know that community spread is happening in parts of the United States and the World Health Organization has officially declared the outbreak a pandemic. While much remains unknown about COVID-19’s epidemiology and impact, we know the best time to put policies in place to effectively slow the spread of the virus is now rather than later—even when there are no cases on our campus of which we are aware. Our goal is not to react to fear in the midst of this complex time, but to be proactive in the preventative measures we can take as an institution.  Accordingly, we take the following steps towards that goal:

SPRING BREAK

After much thoughtful consideration, we have decided to extend Spring Break effective today, March 12, 2020, through Sunday, March 22, 2020. All classes scheduled for today, March 12, 2020, and tomorrow, March 13, 2020, are canceled. The Law School will remain open.

ONLINE COURSE DELIVERY

Beginning Monday, March 23, 2020, the Law School will transition to online delivery of all classroom content via Zoom or other distance learning technology for up to the remainder of the semester. Your Professors in each course will notify you as to the platform they will utilize to deliver their online content. The online classes will be conducted at the same time and on same days as your normal in-class schedules unless otherwise directed by your Professor. Zoom technology can be accessed through your computer or other internet-based device or by downloading the free Zoom app on your phone through Apple Store or Google’s Play Store. If your professor prefers TWEN, TWEN is accessed using your normal TWEN account. Please be prepared to resume classes online beginning March 23, 2020 until further notice.

EVENTS

In order to reduce the risk of exposure to and transmission of the virus, all events, including but not limited to, the Barrister’s Ball, are canceled until further notice. This decision is based on the CDC’s recommendation of “social distancing,” i.e., decreasing the number of instances that require community members to gather in large groups or spend extended periods of time in close proximity with each other.

Please know that these decisions were not made lightly. We understand these measures will cause a level of disruption to our law school community, but we strongly believe that by being proactive now, we have the greatest chance of decreasing our risk. The potential consequences of not acting far outweigh these short-term disruptions as these are indeed unprecedented times that call for unprecedented measures.

I would like to thank the members of our staff and faculty who have been working on these issues daily. We are fortunate to have a team of dedicated, knowledgeable, and committed professionals here to help us navigate this complex situation. We will continue to work with our local, state, and federal partners to address the impacts of COVID-19 to plan accordingly. 

I ask all of you to join in supporting these policies. John Marshall is an extraordinary community of care and concern, especially in trying situations, and now is a time to exercise generosity and support for each other. Acting in that spirit, I have every confidence we will meet the challenge before us and come out of this stronger and more resilient.

Dean Gatewood

March 11, 2020 Law School Update

The decision of whether to move to online course delivery will be made during the Reading Period/Spring Break. Please monitor your email during the break and be prepared if the school decides to deliver classes online after the break. Thank you for your ongoing support.

March 6, 2020 Law School Update

At this time, there does not appear to be a basis for canceling classes or law school activities. In consultation with the faculty, Dean Gatewood has implemented the following policy:

  1. We will continue to hold classes and other events until advised otherwise.
  2. In the event it becomes necessary, we will endeavor to record/Zoom all classes to the extent we have the capacity to do so. Our IT Department will work with individual professors to devise the best instructional approach for each class. We are immediately embarking to train all instructors in the use of Zoom, which will allow instructors to teach their students remotely. Classes will continue to meet in regular fashion unless advised otherwise.
  3. Although students are strongly encouraged to attend classes, we, of course, do not want students to feel any pressure to come to school if they are feeling ill or in a high-risk category. We recognize that law school classes are inherently interactive and something is lost when an in-person class is transformed into a distance learning class by the use of recording or streaming technology. But under these extraordinary circumstances, we ask every professor to be flexible with regard to attendance requirements during this time. Nevertheless, professors will be instructed to continue to record attendance and students may be asked to provide a doctor’s note or other documentation in the event they are sick or in a high-risk category.
  4. In the event it becomes necessary, professors are being asked to create some capacity during office hours to be available by phone or some other technology, such as Zoom.

Thank you for your patience, this situation is unprecedented and poses many challenges for all involved. This is a time when our community will work together to support and assist each other. As always, please wash your hands.

Inaugural Members Welcomed to AJMLS Order of the Quill

Archer, Pope

The Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Order of the Quill (“Order”) is an honor society that recognizes significant academic achievement in designated required doctrinal courses (“Quill” courses). Students who achieve the required cumulative grade point average in the Quill courses will be eligible for admission into the Order. Members of the Order shall receive certificates of membership and be recognized at graduation. Other rights and privileges may be bestowed upon them as is appropriate.

Van Detta, Archer, Morris

Jarrett Archer was welcomed as the inaugural member to the Order on December 16, 2019 by then Dean Malcolm L. Morris and Deacon of the Order, Professor Jeffrey Van Detta. Jarrett Archer (Avery) is a 3L at AJMLS who will be sitting for the Georgia Bar in July of 2020. In his free time, Avery enjoys spending time with his fiancé, Ashlyn, hanging out with friends, watching football and golfing. Before law school, he attended Berry College in Rome, Georgia after graduating from Washington County High School in Sandersville, Georgia. At Berry College, Avery obtained a Bachelor of Arts in history and played football for four years. Currently, Avery has an interest in various areas of law, including criminal defense, personal injury, and contract litigation, all of which he developed through his time working at both Conoscienti & Ledbetter, LLC, and The Orlando Firm, P.C. in Decatur, Georgia throughout his time at AJMLS. Avery also enjoys being in the courtroom and strives to become a trial attorney. After law school and the Bar, Avery plans on opening a law practice in Cobb County Georgia that focuses on criminal defense and personal injury.

Gatewood, Pope, Van Detta

Nicholas Pope was welcomed as the second member to the Order on February 10, 2020 by Dean Jace C. Gatewood and Deacon of the Order, Professor Jeffrey Van Detta. Pope was born and raised in Athens, Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia, where he became a member of the Zeta Iota Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. He graduated in 2015 with degrees in Marketing and Sport Management. Before matriculating at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, he spent time working for CNN in its International Sales Operations Department. Pope is the first in his family to attend law school. He is a recipient of the Dean John E. Ryan Scholarship and is currently in the top three of his class. He also currently serves as the Executive Managing Editor of the Law Journal, a peer mentor in AJMLS’ Peer Mentorship Program, a member of AJMLS’ Sport and Entertainment Law Society, and as a Legal Intern at Georgia’s Own Credit Union under AJMLS Alumnus, Nikolas Kitchens. His passion is in sports and he aspires to work in sport and entertainment law as a player agent or as in-house legal counsel for a sports organization. He also has a strong interest in working in corporate business law.

Congratulations to the inaugural members of the Order, we look forward to seeing all you accomplish at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and the profession.

Eligibility Requirements, as outlined in the Student Handbook:

  • A student with at least a 3.0 grade point average in the Tier I Quill courses qualifies for membership in the Order. If admitted, the student shall be a Member of the Order.
  • A student with at least a cumulative 3.0 grade average in the Tier I and Tier II Quill courses qualifies as for Scholar membership of the Order. If approved, the student shall be a Scholar of the Order.
  • A student who graduates with a least a cumulative 3.3 grade point average in the Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III Quill courses qualifies as an Honor Scholar, and if approved, will graduate as an Honor Scholar of the Order.
  • A student who graduates with a least a cumulative 3.5 grade point average in the Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III Quill courses qualifies to graduate as an Exemplar Scholar, and if approved, will graduate as an Exemplar Scholar of the Order.
  • The Order graduate with the highest cumulative grade point average in the Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III Quill courses shall be designated the Marshal of the Order.

Quill Courses:

Tier I Quill courses are Contracts I and II, Torts I and II, Civil Procedure I and II, Property I and II, Criminal Law, and Constitutional Law I. 

Tier II Quill courses are Constitutional Law II, Evidence, Criminal Procedure, Business Organizations, Mastering Legal Principles I, and Mastering Legal Skills.

Tier III Quill courses are Mastering Legal Principles II and Remedies.

Dr. Ortega Advocates for Reentry Education, Homeless Veterans, and Talks Voting Disenfranchisement

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Associate Dean of Career Services and Professional Development, Dr. Bridgett Ortega, is on the move in Georgia, advocating for others.

In her capacity at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, Dr. Ortega collaborated with AJMLS students to develop and write Home for Good: Overcoming Legal Barriers to Reentry in Georgia*, a self-help guide designed to answer practical, legal questions to help citizens successfully remain in their community. This publication is distributed free of charge and is available on the Law School website here. Dr. Ortega’s office provides pro-bono opportunities for students to reach their community at events such as the Restoration Resources Fair for Ex-Offenders, hosted by Congressman Henry “Hank” Johnson on Thursday, February 20th. The 4th edition of the publication is forthcoming in 2020.

As a veteran herself, Dr. Ortega spearhead the creation of the Homeless Veterans Legal Clinic. Now under the leadership of her office and AJMLS alumnus, Corey Martin of Martin and Associates, the second Friday of each month, AJMLS provides representation and advocacy to system-involved veterans through its Homeless Veterans Legal Clinic in partnership with the Atlanta V.A. Medical Center. These services are provided at Ft. McPherson in the Justice Programs Office.

In January, Dr. Ortega was the lead presenter at the January meeting of the End Mass Incarceration Georgia Network, where her presentation spoke to the background on voting disenfranchisement for felonies in Georgia. Georgia law states that anyone convicted of a “crime involving moral turpitude” will lose their voting rights. However, it does not clearly define what “moral turpitude” means. Dr. Ortega lead the discussion and sought to educate, organize, and help disenfranchised people to understand their rights.

As a law professor she has taught ethics, trial skills, criminal and juvenile justice, and experiential learning courses. She has nearly 30 years experience in legal and programmatic positions aimed at criminal and juvenile justice reform. Her life’s work has been the zealous advocacy for and on behalf of children and disenfranchised adults, as a public defender, researcher, and policy consultant. Dr. Ortega was formerly Deputy Director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Reclaiming Futures, a juvenile justice reform initiative aimed at creating strategies for intervening with young people with substance abuse and other issues that bring them into the criminal justice system. She is also a trainer for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and former member at large of The National Juvenile Defender Center. Her dissertation is entitled Compassionate Jurisprudence: A Praxis for Justice.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School students have had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Ortega since 2011 and we thank her for her tireless service!

*The guide is information only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal advice in any particular situation. If you need legal help or have questions about your particular situation, call a lawyer. Only licensed attorneys can interpret the law for you. See the resource section at the end of the book.

Professor Rapping Inspires Criminal Justice Reform in North Carolina and California

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Professor and Director of the Criminal Justice Certificate Program, Jonathan A. Rapping, has been on the move in December and January speaking about criminal justice. In addition to his roles at AJMLS, Professor Rapping serves as the President and Founder of Gideon’s Promise, is a Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard University Law School, and is a frequent presenter and contributor to national conversations on criminal justice reform. Rapping is also the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, the American College of Trial Lawyers Emil Gumpert Award, Harvard Law School Wasserstein Public Interest Fellowship, Cardozo Law School Inspire Award, and the George Soros Open Society Fellowship along with many other honors and recognitions.

In December, Professor Rapping was the keynote speaker in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at “Where Do We Go from Here? A community forum on criminal justice reform in Orange County”. The event was co-sponsored by Orange County and the District 18 Bar Racial Justice Task Force. Invested panelists included the District Attorney, Public Defender, County Sheriff, Police Chief, Superior Court Judge, and representatives from the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office, University of North Carolina School of Government, North Carolina Justice Center, and the District Courts. The impressive table of panelists engaged in discussions about “The role of stakeholders in criminal justice reform” and “The intersection of poverty and the criminal justice system”. Professor Rapping’s keynote was entitled: Rewriting the Criminal Justice Narrative.

Later in January, Professor Rapping will travel to Los Angeles to participate in three separate events on the topic of criminal justice reform. The first, a lecture hosted by the University of Southern California’s Dornsife Pre-Law Speaker Series discussing “The Lawyer’s Role in a Just Society”. The second, Professor Rapping is presenting to the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office a lecture discussing “A public defender movement to transform criminal justice”. The third, a lunch event presented by UCLA Law’s Criminal Justice Program and David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy discussing “Gideon’s Promise: Building a Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice”.

When asked of his work, Professor Rapping remarked “Lawyers have always played a critical role in the ongoing struggle to push our nation to achieve its stated ideals. The criminal justice system is one example of how far we are from living our democratic values. It is not enough that lawyers help administer the system as it exists; they must be change agents to make society more just. How law schools educate future lawyers determines whether they are prepared to raise the standard of justice or perpetuate the status quo. I am proud of our mission at John Marshall and our commitment to creating lawyers who will leave the legal system better than when they entered it. ”

The Law School is proud to offer its students the opportunity to learn criminal law from one of the nation’s leaders working to improve the criminal justice system. Thank you, Professor!

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Names Jace C. Gatewood Interim Dean and CEO

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to announce the appointment of its 10th Dean, Jace C. Gatewood. Dean Gatewood succeeded Dean Malcolm L. Morris on January 1, 2020 as Interim Dean and CEO, becoming the first African American to serve in the role since the school’s founding in 1933.

Dean Gatewood, who has been a senior member of the faculty since 2008, said “Atlanta’s John Marshall has offered the opportunity for legal training to those who might not otherwise have been able to earn a law degree. For much of its 87 year history, women and African Americans were more welcome at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School than at many law schools, and the Law School today proudly continues its tradition of diversity.”

Dean Gatewood has served in roles such as Associate Professor, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, and Associate Dean of Academic Programs. In addition to teaching, he has chaired the curriculum committee, and been a member of the admissions committee and faculty recruitment committee. Dean Gatewood has taught a range of courses including Property, Business Organizations, Sales and Secured Transactions, Wills, Trusts and Estates, and Agency and Negotiations. As a faculty member at Atlanta’s John Marshall, Dean Gatewood has authored numerous scholarly publications, with his chief research topic being the fourth amendment and an individual’s right to privacy in an increasingly technological world.

Dean Gatewood attended Georgetown University where he was a full scholarship track and field athlete. Becoming the first African American Dean of AJMLS was not his first historic moment, he was also a world and American record-holder for the Distance Medley Relay in 1980. Dean Gatewood went on to earn his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Prior to entering academia, Dean Gatewood practiced for nearly two decades in New York and Atlanta at Weil Gotshal LLP, Troutman Sanders LLP, Powell Goldstein LLP, Atlanta Housing Authority, and the Law Offices of Jace C. Gatewood. He specialized in a wide range of commercial lending and corporate and real estate finance transactions. His expertise includes the representation of lenders and foreign and domestic commercial banks in the establishment and administration of single lender and syndicated loan facilities of all kinds.

“Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School occupies a unique place in American legal education,” said Dean Gatewood. “I am extremely proud of the opportunity to share in this rich legacy of the school.”

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is looking forward to flourishing under the leadership of Dean Gatewood as it converts to a non-profit institution in 2020.

Christian Legal Society and Business Law Society Honored for Fall 2019

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is proud to award the Fall 2019 Outstanding Student Organization of the Semester Award to the Christian Legal Society and the Corporate and Business Law Society. 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 the Christian Legal Society and the Corporate and Business Law Society sponsored this past semester:

Christian Legal Society

Faith in the First Week
Weekly Community Service with My Sister’s House
Blessing Bags and Bar Prep Initiative
Chrisitan Identity Speaker Event
Bible Study Brunch
Scriptures of the Week

Corporate and Business Law Society

First Place Winner in the ABA Regional Negotiation Competition
CBLS/BLSA Book Drive for First-Year Students
CBLS/BLSA First-Year Study Series
Sponsor for Covenant Youth for Christmas
Community Service Event with Covenant House
Hurricane Dorian Relief Effort
From Law Student to Practicing Attorney Speaker Event

The Selection Committee was impressed by the effort and hard work of the two organizations. The Committee would also like to give honorable mentions to the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers-AJMLS Chapter and the Black Law Students Association. These organizations also sponsored numerous impactful events for the community. Congratulations, Christian Legal Society and Corporate and Business Law Society on being chosen as the 2019 Fall Outstanding Student Organizations. We look forward to continuing to work with all of you to make the law school and the community better!

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Dean, Malcolm L. Morris, Announces Retirement

Dean Malcolm L. Morris, who is Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School’s (AJMLS) ninth dean, announced his retirement to the AJMLS community on November 14.

Dean Morris, who has served since July 1, 2014, said “Fifty years ago I entered law school. Except for a brief hiatus to practice law, I have been working in law schools ever since. It has proven to be a wonderful experience and a career choice never once second-guessed.”

During Dean Morris’s tenure, the Law School made significant advancements in admissions, bar preparation programs, and upheld its mission to serve both traditional and non-traditional students. Professor Michael Mears noted, “The past several years have provided many challenges to our school and because of Dean Morris’s vision and leadership our law school has met those challenges with very positive outcomes. His leadership footprint will remain a part of our school for decades to come.”

Dean Morris, who is known for his wit, stories, and trivia, was often found checking-in with his employees around the school. He enjoyed getting to know each person personally and sharing great laughter and conversation. His work ethic was reflected in his schedule as the first to arrive and the last to leave, also being found most weekends jean-clad in his office tending to law school business.

Dean Morris continued “During my time in the academy I have taught at five different law schools and delivered lectures to students in every section of the country. I was privileged to be mentored by some outstanding faculty colleagues, befriended by many other wonderful colleagues, and to teach generations of students. It also was my good fortune to work with a number of professional and lay organizations as well as national and local bar associations. A number of them graciously recognized my contributions, something for which and I am appreciative. In sum, it has been a rewarding and enjoyable career which most importantly was fun.”

“Over the last five and one-half years I have led the Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School through some difficult times. It now has the academic programming and student support needed to serve those who come to learn how to become and succeed as lawyers. This is a legacy of which I will be most proud for as most of us who teach know student success is our raison d’etre.”      

“Many years ago I was taught a simple lesson—leave wherever you have worked a little better place than it was when you arrived. I have always strived to meet that goal and my sincere hope is that I have done so. What I also learned along the way is to enjoy what you are doing. It makes the effort much easier and life more enjoyable.”

The road to Dean at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School was paved with impressive leadership positions, research, and service to legal education and the legal community. As one of the most prominent legal scholars in notary law, Dean Morris was the inaugural recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Notary Association. Dean Morris was the Director of Graduate Estate Planning Programs and the Associate Director of Graduate Tax Law Programs. He also served two terms as the Associate Dean and one term as the Interim Dean at Northern Illinois University College of Law. During his tenure there, he was elected Secretary of the Faculty Senate and was a member of the Strategic Planning Committee and the University Council, as well as the University Personnel Advisor. Additionally, he has been active as an ABA accreditation site visitor, Board Member and Treasurer of CLEO, Inc., LSAC trustee, and member of various AALS and ABA committees. During his time in Illinois, Dean Morris chaired and participated on numerous Illinois State Bar Association committees, received a number of awards for those efforts, including the prestigious Austin Fleming Award, all of which led to his induction as a Laureate in its Academy of Illinois Lawyers. He also has an extensive scholarship record that includes works published in both law reviews and practitioner-oriented publications.

Dr. Michael Markovitz, Chairman of the Board, remarked, “As the law school’s third Dean since achieving American Bar Association accreditation, Dean Morris has presided over the law school through a troubling time for legal education. With his usual good cheer and positive attitude, Dean Morris has seen our law school through these hard times. He strengthened the curriculum and significantly improved student outcomes. He set the school on a positive trajectory, leaving the law school on an up-note for his successor to build upon. We wish him and his wife Terry all the best in retirement.”

“I cannot imagine having enjoying any other career as much as I did during my time in the academy,” said Dean Morris. “Thank you to everyone who made it possible.”

Dean Morris is a graduate of Cornell University (B.S.), SUNY Buffalo (J.D.), and Northwestern University (LL.M.). In retirement, Morris will reside in the greater metropolitan Chicago area with his bride of 36 years, Terry Morris.

As of January 1, 2020, Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, Jace C. Gatewood, was appointed Interim Dean and CEO of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Remains Approved ABA Law School, Seeks Non-Profit Status

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is pleased to announce that the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association at its recent meeting found that the Law School demonstrated full compliance with the ABA Standards. The Law School has continuously been an approved ABA law school since 2009. The Law School recently took specific measures to ensure its compliance with the ABA Standards while continuing to meet its mission, viz., providing legal education opportunities to both traditional and non-traditional students.

“We at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School are proud of our students and graduates, and remain committed to their success in law school and the practice of law,” said Malcolm L. Morris, Dean and Professor of Law at Atlanta’s John Marshall. “The Law School now plans to convert to a non-profit institution that will further strengthen its relationship with the community it serves.”

Over the last two academic years, the Law School increased its entering class 75th percentile LSAT score by three points to 152, its median score by four points to 150, and its 25th percentile by three points to 147. The Law School’s Georgia Bar Exam first time pass rate also increased over the past two years by 28% for the July administrations.

Located in one of America’s most vibrant cities, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is proud to continue to provide access to a high-quality program of legal education, and maintain a flexible program of full-time and part-time study for all qualified applicants.

1996 Alumna, Angela Duncan, Appointed Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates 1996 alumna, Angela Duncan, on her recent appointment as the 11th Superior Court Judge for Gwinnett County. Gwinnett County is Georgia’s second largest county and this position was created by Governor Brian Kemp to assist in the increasing caseload. It is speculated that Duncan will be Gwinnett’s first openly gay Superior Court judge as she joins a handful of other officials who are members of the LGBTQ community and hold high profile positions in the county.

Judge Duncan has worked as a Gwinnett County Magistrate Court judge for the past 15 years and is the current chief judge for the city of Chamblee’s municipal court. She earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from North Georgia College and served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1987 to 1995.

Duncan attended AJMLS part-time attending both day and night classes while also maintaining a full time job. Throughout her study, she sought to experience different areas of law by working at a different firm each year of law school. She learned every aspect of private firms, from working in the file room to becoming a law librarian assistant and court runner. She also experienced many different law practices prior to graduation, from labor law and appellate work to personal injury and criminal defense.

It was during her third year of study, and work at the former Gambrell and Stolz, that her interest was piqued in serving on the bench. Irwin W. Stolz, Jr., who served on the Georgia Court of Appeals from 1972-1977, was an excellent mentor and teacher during her employment at the firm.

When asked if she had advice for the Atlanta’s John Marshall community, she noted:

“Whatever it is you want to do, find a passion in it- it’s a lot less like work.”

Duncan also remarked to her University of North Georgia alma mater,

“I have always been open about who I am. My wife and children have accompanied me and are a huge part of my success.”

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is pleased to celebrate this appointment and wishes Judge Duncan much success as she takes the bench in the New Year.