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

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

Dean Malcolm L. Morris notes,

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

About Mr. Keith Blackwell

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

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

Additional 2017 AJMLS Commencement Information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alumnus Adam Malone Receives Honors

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

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

Congratulations, Adam!

AJMLS Team Awarded Best Defendant’s Memorandum of Law at Stetson Pretrial Competition

Stetson Law hosted their eighth annual National Pretrial Competition this past weekend and the team from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School has once again been awarded Best Defendant’s Memorandum of Law. This is the third time during the past five years that Atlanta’s John Marshall has won the best brief award at the Stetson competition.

The winning team was composed of Michael Barrett (3L), Amber Reed (3L), Sadia Ali (2L), and Olivia Fisher (2L). The team was coached by Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School alumnus Mathis Wilkens, Assistant District Attorney in Dekalb County, and the team Director was Professor Suparna Malempati.

Congratulations to all the competitors!

Stetson 2015-2 Stetson 2015-3 Stetson 2015-1b

John Marshall Ranked 4th Most Diverse Law School by National Jurist

Providing a diverse learning environment for students is important to the faculty and administration at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. 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 the National Jurist to name Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School the fourth most diverse law school in the nation in their winter issue. Other top diverse law schools joining John Marshall on the list are Texas Southern University (1), University of the District of Columbia (2), University of La Verne (3), and Florida A&M University (5). In the article, National Jurist explained how the rankings were determined.

“We broke down each school into six categories – percentage of minority faculty; percentage of black students; percentage of Asian and Hawaiian students; percentage of Hispanic students; percentage of American Indian students; and percentage of Caucasian students. We assigned each school a score from one to 10 for all categories, except for American Indians. We assigned each school a score from one to five for that category, given the much smaller number of students.

A school that matched the U.S. national average for any race received a seven (or 3.5 for American Indian), and a school that was 30 percent or greater than the national average received a 10 (or 5 for American Indian). We then weighted the student categories as 75 percent of the final diversity score and faculty at 25 percent. The final outcome is a list of schools that have a breadth of races both in student bodies and faculties.”

The full article gives prospective students and law schools a detailed look into what socioeconomic factors have caused an increase in black and Hispanic students while simultaneously creating a decline in white and Asian students. Regardless of the trend, a diverse law school should offer more than just ethnic diversity. At Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, the student population are also diverse in life experiences and professional background. A well-rounded understanding of diversity allows John Marshall to continue producing practice-ready, ethical, and knowledgeable members of the legal community.

For more on the various programs the law school provided, view our program offerings.

The National Jurist Names AJMLS Among the Best Law Schools for Practical Training

In the March 2014 issue of The National Jurist, the magazine names the law schools with the most comprehensive experiential learning offerings. By analyzing the information each school provided to the American Bar Association in December, the magazine was able to assign a letter grade to each law school. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School’s Office of Pro Bono and Experiential Learning earned a “B” for their efforts to provide students with a quality and in-depth variety of pro bono and externship opportunities. Congratulations to Director Renata Turner and Assistant Director Bridgett Ortega for all their hard work and dedication to improving the student experience at the law school. To read the full article, click here.

AJMLS Ranked No. 24 of Top Law Schools for Externships by PreLaw Magazine

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School was ranked one of the nation’s top law schools for externships by PreLaw Magazine in their most recent issue. The Back to School edition includes a two-page spread of the top law schools for externship opportunities. AJMLS ranked 24th amongst schools like Brigham Young University (5th) and Drexel University (21st).

According to PreLaw Magazine, “Externship programs continue to expand each year as law school strive to teach more real-life skills and students seek the experience employers’ desire.” The article goes on to say, “Legal educators have been calling for more experiential opportunities since the early 1990s. Now, fueled by the need to better prepare graduates, law school are responding.”

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School would like to recognize Renata Turner and Bridgett Ortega in our Pro Bono and Experiential Learning Department for their hard work and commitment to maximizing opportunities for students through experiential learning.

For the full article from PreLaw Magazine, click here.

AJMLS Ranked No. 13 of Top 50 Most Diverse Law Schools

The National Jurist recently ranked every ABA-accredited law school in the nation to find the school with the most diverse student population. Their results landed Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in the Top 20. The November 2012 issue of the magazine ranks AJMLS number 13 among schools like the University of the District of Columbia (#1), American University (#25), and Harvard Law School  (#43).

To determine how the schools would be ranked, The National Jurist judged each school based on six elements: percentage of minority faculty, percentage of African-American students, percentage of Asian and Hawaiian students, percentage of Hispanic students, percentage of American Indian students and other minorities, and percentage of Caucasian students. Each school was assigned a number from one to 10 in each category.

Schools that matched the U.S. national average for any race, received a seven. However, schools with 30 percent or higher than the national average, received a 10. The National Jurist offers this example, “13.1 percent of the U.S. population is black. Florida Coastal School of Law, with 13.2 percent black students, received a seven. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, with a 24.2 percent black student body…received a 10.”

For the full article, click here.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Announces Launch of New School Website

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) – Georgia’s only fully ABA-accredited, independent law school – today launched the school’s new website. The website features bold colors, a clean uncluttered design and content to support AJMLS’s vision of providing both prospective and current students, and the AJMLS community with accurate and useful information.

The website, which will retain the URL, was the final step in the school’s rebranding initiative, which began in 2011. AJMLS partnered with Julie Low, Principal at Fancy Agency to create the website’s sleek, modern design. “Working with AJMLS to bring a new energy to its brand has been exciting,” said Low. “It takes a client open to fresh thinking to make such a positive transformation happen. The new AJMLS personality is current, personable and full of life.”

In an effort to create a more user-friendly experience, AJMLS consulted higher education marketing company, Stamats to construct the new website. The redesign preserves all of the original content from the previous website, with the addition of contemporary features to maximize user interaction.

“It is critically important for an institution to have an interesting, compelling and engaging web presence,” said Julie Staggs, Senior Client Consultant at Stamats. “Just as Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School has been an innovator with their online and mobile application option, they are now providing an exceptional web experience for students to learn about and become a part of the institution. It has been our pleasure to be a partner in this digital transformation.”

AJMLS Dean and Professor of Law, Richardson Lynn is confident the redesign accurately portrays the climate of the school and will aid prospective AJMLS students in the law school decision-making process. “We are keenly aware that the majority of students initially research institutions through their websites. The decision to improve our web presence is to ensure prospective students’ first interaction with AJMLS is both engaging and informative. We also strive to create a quality user experience for our current students and alumni,” said Lynn.

AJMLS Launches Online, Resident LL.M. Programs for Foreign-educated Attorneys

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) today announced the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Council on Legal Education and Admissions  has acquiesced to its application to launch online and resident LL.M. programs for foreign-educated attorneys.  Classes begin Fall 2012.  These new programs bring to three the number of LL.M. programs offered by AJMLS.  The school began offering an LL.M. in Employment Law in 2010.

AJMLS is joining the growing number of U.S.-based law schools offering LL.M. degrees for foreign-educated attorneys. According to, in the increasingly global legal market, lawyers practicing a number of specialties need to master more than one legal system. Pursuing an LL.M. in the United States offers many advantages for a foreign lawyer, providing the opportunity to develop not only knowledge, but also a strong contact base.

Key facts about the AJMLS Global Programs:

The Resident LL.M. in American Legal Studies

→   Two-semester program offering a comprehensive curriculum drawn from both required and elective J.D. program courses;

→   Classes begin after a required one-week seminar in summer 2012 to introduce students to American law and legal education;

→   Candidates must possess a J.D. degree or equivalent whether at undergraduate or graduate level in the lawyer’s home country in addition to other program requirements; and

→   Candidates who received their legal education in a language other than English will be required to submit proof of English proficiency.

 The Online  LL.M. in American Legal Studies

→   An online-only, four-semester LL.M. program to educate foreign-trained attorneys in American law;

→   Each online semester will last a total of 15 weeks;

→   No mandatory residential sessions;

→   Provides foreign-trained attorneys the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree while residing in their home countries and working in their own legal systems;

→   Candidates must possess a degree equivalent to a J.D. degree whether at undergraduate or graduate level in the lawyer’s home country in addition to other program requirements;

→   Candidates who received their legal education in a language other than English will be required to submit proof of English proficiency;

→   Program will be supported by comprehensive administrative and technical support to provide online students with a superior educational experience.

“We are enhancing our Master of Laws degree offerings to enable foreign-educated attorneys the opportunity to thrive in American law,” said Richardson Lynn, Dean and Professor of Law at AJMLS. “The launch of our two Global LL.M. programs further demonstrates our commitment to the preservation of law in the United States and throughout the world.”

Prospective students can apply to either program via or – or by downloading and submitting an application to the law school by fax, mail or email.  For more information and to learn more about both the AJMLS LL.M. in American Legal Studies and the Global Forum LL.M. in American Legal Studies, please visit the website or contact LL.M. Director, Lisa Kaplan at (404) 872-3593 ##Ext. 131 or email

AJMLS Featured in Spring Issue of PreLaw Magazine

In the Spring 2012 issue of PreLaw Magazine, Dean Lynn was interviewed about the rapid expansion AJMLS has experienced in the last year.

In addition to the physical-size of the school expanding with the construction of new classrooms and the Blackburn Conference Center, AJMLS has added a J.D. Honors program in Criminal Justice, an LL.M. in Employment Law, and even a branch campus in Savannah, GA. “We’re trying to continuously improve the environment for students and make them comfortable in this location with its great access to resources,” said Lynn.

For the full article on our growing school, click here.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Adds Impressive Roster of Tenured and Visiting Professors

Standing firmly behind our mission to prepare highly competent and professional lawyers who are committed to the improvement of the legal system and society, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is excited about the recent addition to our growing institution.

AJMLS has hired seven tenured/tenure-track professors and seven visiting professors to bolster its commitment to marry real-world experience with classroom academics. “Coupled with the faculty already on staff, we believe our new personnel offer our students a brilliant mix of expertise and enable us to maintain our 13-to-1 student-faculty ratio.” said Richardson Lynn, dean and professor of law at the Law School.

The tenured/tenure-track professors include: 

Anthony Baker
Professor Baker brings a broad range of legal teaching experience to AJMLS, having previously taught criminal and constitutional law, history of law, ethics, mediation and research at Campbell University School of Law, Pepperdine University School of Law, University of Maine School of Law, and University of Wisconsin Law School. He is a graduate of the University Of North Carolina School of Law. 

Robert Brown
Professor Brown’s extensive real-world legal experience began as Chief Legal Counsel to the City Council of Philadelphia, where he led a team of lawyers in the drafting of zoning and tax ordinances. He then practiced real estate and finance law at Klehr, Harrison, Harvey, Branzburg & Ellers in Philadelphia. From 2004 – 2009, he worked in Atlanta focusing his practice on affordable housing, capital markets and real estate law. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. 

Christine Cerniglia
A 2003 graduate of the Loyola University School of Law, Cerniglia’s legal teaching background dates back to 2004. Having served as a staff lawyer for the State of Florida, Sixth Judicial Court, she brings a wealth of real-world experience to the classroom.

Rebecca Godbey Cummings
A graduate of William and Mary Law School, this is Cummings’ second experience teaching at AJMLS. She also served as an adjunct professor teaching Wills, Trusts and Estates and a writing-intensive Advanced Estate Planning Seminar from 2005 – 2008. She was highly ranked by students each semester, and her classes were routinely filled to capacity.

James Gelin
A graduate of Duke University Law School, Professor Gelin is an experienced trial attorney who represented defendants as an Assistant Public Defender with the Office of the DeKalb County Public Defender from 1991 – 2010. Before joining the Public Defender’s office, he practiced corporate law, first at Goodwin Procter LLP in Boston, and then at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP in Atlanta. Professor Gelin previously taught criminal law at AJMLS as an adjunct professor from 1994 – 1995.

Michael Oeser
Oeser holds a Master of Laws from the University of Wisconsin and is a member of several state and tribal bar associations, including Texas State Bar, Wisconsin State Bar, Cherokee Nation Bar and Ho-Chunk Nation Bar. His experience also includes academic appointments dating back to 2006 and an extensive time in private practice. 

Tim Saviello
Saviello comes to AJMLS with a rich background in criminal defense, having been the principal of his own criminal law practice representing individuals facing criminal investigation and prosecution by the United States in the Northern District of Georgia. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, Saviello has practiced law throughout the southeastern United States.

Visiting professors also have a wide range of legal expertise. The visiting professors joining Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School include: Lovita Tandy; Allison Kort; Victoria Carlton-Sadler; Rose Anne Nespica; LaTisha Faulks; Scott Boone; and David Hricik.

For a full list of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Faculty, click here.