June 2021 Employee of the Month, Michael Gatewood

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 June 2021 Employee of the Month recipient is Michael (Mike) Gatewood, Assistant Building Engineer.

Prior to joining Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in March 2020, Mike served the New York State Office of Children and Family Services for 20 years! He worked in the juvenile justice division where he worked directly with court adjudicated youth in a residential setting. Mike noted that working at AJMLS in the facilities department has been a welcomed challenge and change of career. He looks forward to working with and continuing to meet the employees at AJMLS as everyone returns to campus this fall.

Mike joined the AJMLS family just prior to the pandemic and has been on-site nearly every day since. He has been described as always nice and works with a smile! Mike operates with a high degree of excellence, professionalism, and customer service. We are very fortunate to have Mike on our team!

Meet the Atlanta’s John Marshall 2021-2022 Executive Board

Brianna Smith, President

Where were you raised: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I received my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/Public Relations minor, from  The Howard University in Washington, D.C.

What are your future career plans: I plan to be an Intellectual Property Attorney with a focus in Entertainment and Business Law.  

What do you look forward to as the SBA President: As SBA President this year my main goal is to rebuild our community. We have relocated and are finally able to attend in person classes after a year. There are so many connections that students and faculty have to make with one another as well as with the outside legal network. I plan to work on rebuilding that network and community. 

What do you want your classmates to know about you: We are all in this together. The SBA is here to help, hear and advocate for you. We are John Marshall Proud! 

Keith Collins, Vice President

Where were you raised: I was born and raised in Newport News, Virginia.

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I am so proud to be a graduate of one of the greatest HBCU’s,(Historically Black College or University) in all the land, Norfolk State University. Behold!

What are your future career plans: I rarely say this out loud to other people, but I want to be a Supreme Court Justice, one day. I also have interests in Criminal Law and Intellectual Property.

What do you look forward to as the Vice President: The thing I look forward to most as the Vice President of this Student Bar Association is bringing my personal platform to our student body and faculty. I believe in the oneness of the human experience and I am excited to see what greatness all of John Marshall can achieve when we share our personal experiences among our community, so that we can better understand one another, collectively.

What are your goals in the position this academic year: My greatest goals this academic year are: (1) to promote and develope more opportunities for scholarship and academic achievement on campus, (2) to gain a recognizable identity as a #johnmarshallproud student body in the legal community, and (3) to lead with kindness and professionalism in every endeavor.

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I want my classmates to know that I am here for them. I’m the guy that will speak to everyone, I’ll ask any question that you need answered, and I love finding opportunities to meet new people and share friendship.

Mercedes L. Dickerson, Secretary

Where were you raised: I was raised in Fortson, Georgia.

Where did you complete your undergraduate education: I went to Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, and I studied Political Science and Spanish.

What are your future career plans: I want to be a civil rights attorney and open my own law firm with a focus on providing legal services for low-income minorities. I also want to open a non-profit organization that supports impoverished women and children.

What do you look forward to as the SBA Secretary: I look forward to helping increase communication between the student body and faculty and the administration. I also look forward to serving as the Editor in Chief of the SBA Newsletter.

What are your goals in the position this academic year: My goal is to provide a transparent account of the SBA’s goals and our performance executing them. I also strive to maintain an open line of communication with my fellow classmates, so I can accurately represent their concerns to the SBA executive board and John Marshall’s administration.

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I am very passionate about helping my fellow classmates, and I welcome all students to come to me with any questions or concerns they have.

Hanna Canavan, Treasurer

Where were you raised: I was raised in Douglasville, GA. 

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: Kennesaw State University

What are your future career plans: I’m currently seeing all of what law school has to offer; however, my passion and the reason why I chose to attend law school was to become a criminal defense attorney.

What do you look forward to as the Treasurer: I look forward to assisting as a member on the executive board, participating in the different committees and events, and helping student organizations with the logistics behind the scenes. 

What are your goals in the position this academic year: To be open and transparent with the organizations and student body. 

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I am always available by text, call or email if there is a situation in which you need my immediate help. Just give me a shout!

Dylan Annis, Parliamentarian

Where were you raised: I was raised in Dacula, Georgia

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I completed my undergraduate degree at Kennesaw State University with a degree in Marketing.

What are your future career plans: Following graduation, I hope to look forward to a career practicing law with a focus on complex civil litigation. 

What do you look forward to as the Parliamentarian: As Parliamentarian, I look forward to contributing to helping the SBA Board and other organizations establish successful and reoccurring events that AJMLS students can look forward to every year. 

What are your goals in the position this academic year: This year I hope to help every new organization establish methods and procedures that help the organization run smoothly and efficiently for years to come. 

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I want all my classmates to know that I am always just a call or text away. I look forward to being a part of your network, both personal and professional, or years to come.

Bar Exam July 2021: Your Best is Yet to Come

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

The July 2021 bar exam is right around the corner, and this is a stressful time. As the bar exam dates get closer, future examinees tend to put a lot more emphasis and react more strongly to how they performed ‘today.’ The sense of time running out, combined with the elusive (and impossible) search for perfection on practice questions and essays, leads to people suffering as they strive to understand why today they scored x, but yesterday they scored y. Furthermore, this leads to fears about what is going to happen in the future when they might get z score. These concerns are normal in the process, but not realistic as a method of approach and to perform your best.

I attached the graph above to remind you that your best is going to vary daily, and although you have invested plenty of time and effort up to this point, you will still have days that are up and down in terms of your daily scoring. Please remember that your up days shouldn’t lead you to be overconfident, and that your down days shouldn’t destroy your confidence. Instead, I encourage you to simply keep in mind that each day is an opportunity to improve, and fluctuations will occur. These are normal, and one single day will neither make nor break you when it comes to ultimately being successful. Additionally, if you step back and think about it rationally, each day you are encountering different items, specific nuances, varying levels of difficulty, and will have varying levels of mental energy and focus. You are not a machine, and you should not expect bar prep to be an assembly line process where everything looks the same at the end of each day.

“Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes it’s built on catastrophe.”

~Sumner Redstone

Remember that bar exam preparation is not about being perfect and knowing everything. Bar exam preparation is about studying, putting forth the effort, and learning from your mistakes as you progress. In fact, making mistakes and learning from them is part of the path of progress. 

What many people see as failure on any particular day is not that at all, but rather it is an opportunity to learn a nuance, uncover a misunderstanding, or gain an insight. It is an opportunity to see a literal red X in your bar prep programming now so that you can eventually get the proverbial green light of success notification from the Board of Bar Examiners later. This is a difficult time period, but it is one of opportunities that you have worked towards for years, and now is your time to shine. See each day as an opportunity to gain knowledge and set your sights on success.

I know that you can do this. Strive to learn something new each day and improve, dedicate your time to bar preparation, and treat yourself with kindness. You have been successful your entire life to arrive at this point, and you can continue to be successful moving forward. The bar exam is a difficult challenge, but it is an achievable goal for you to accomplish. You simply have to keep working hard and believing in yourself the way that I believe in you. 

You can pass the bar exam! You’ve got this! Keep working hard and take advantage of each day on your journey to successfully becoming an attorney and receiving that celebratory news letting you know that you passed the bar exam!

Keep working hard and turn your dreams into reality!

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Welcomes Linda A. Klein to the Board of Directors

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Linda A. Klein, immediate past president of the American Bar Association and Shareholder at Baker Donelson, to the Board of Directors as an ex officio member. Linda’s leadership experience and work at the American Bar Association, which is the largest voluntary professional association in the world, are welcomed assets to the team during this exciting time of growth.

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

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

In the American Bar Association, she previously served as chair of the House of Delegates, the association’s policy making body. She has also served as chair of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, and chair of ABA Day, the Association’s Congressional outreach effort. She is a recent member of the Council of the ABA Section of International Law and also serves as a columnist Law Practice Management Magazine. In 2013 Ms. Klein had the honor of being a McGlothlin fellow on the campuses of William and Mary’s Business and Law Schools. She delivered the commencement addresses at Georgia State University College of Law (2017), Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (2017), Pepperdine University School of Law (2016), Washington and Lee University School of Law (2012), and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (2018). In 2009, Ms. Klein was honored with the Randolph Thrower Award for Lifetime Achievement and was named to the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers. In 2004, the American Bar Association honored Ms. Klein with the prestigious Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award.

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

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

Linda 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

Kwaku C. George (KC)

Director, National Development Council

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

AJMLS 2L, Ashley Starnes, Awarded Georgia Latino Law Foundation Judicial Internship

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates rising 2L, Ashley Starnes, who was awarded a summer judicial internship from the Georgia Latino Law Foundation (GLLF). Ashley will be completing her summer internship with the Honorable Judge Joe C. Bishop of the Pataula Circuit. 

As part of its commitment to supporting Latino law students in their search for the career they want, each year, the GLLF provides connections to the bench through its judicial internship program. 

Ashley helped us learn a bit more about herself with the interview below.

What led you to pursue a career in law?

“I wanted to pursue a career in law in order to be part of this country’s judicial system and try to improve the areas where that system may fail.”

Why AJMLS?

“I went to Georgia Tech and knew I did not want to leave Atlanta. AJMLS offered me a wonderful scholarship and a chance to pursue my dreams in the city I love. It was a no-brainer!”

What does the future look like for you after graduation?

“I hope to land a clerkship with a federal judge after I graduate and have dreams of opening my own general practice firm one day.”

What will you be doing this summer with your internship?

“This summer, I am interning for the Honorable Judge Joe C. Bishop of the Pataula Circuit. He is a wonderful mentor. I am excited to learn about all different areas of law, practice my memo and order writing, and experience the courtroom with a Judge’s eyes!”

Who inspires you?

“I am inspired by my family. They have always supported me through tough times and instilled values of community, compassion, and diligence. They are the reason I strive for success today.”

Congratulations again, Ashley, we hope you have a wonderful summer and look forward to seeing you again in the fall.

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, an Atlanta IP Inns of Court student pupil, a volunteer for the Atlanta Lawyers for the Arts, a student member of the Gate City Bar Association, and a student member of the Georgia Association of 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 Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity and the Black Law Students Association, serves as the AJMLS Student Bar Association President, and is on the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee’s Student Advisory Board.

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.

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.

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 part. 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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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)

Testing Sites Near Downtown Campus

The Law School has identified the closest COVID rapid-test testing sites to our new downtown campus. This list was correct at the time of posting (6/30/21), please independently verify with each location.

Urgent Care 24/7

285 Centennial Olympic Park Dr. NW CU-2A, Atlanta, GA 30313

Walgreens

2893 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305

CVS

865 N Highland Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

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

August 3, 2021 Mask Policy

Mask Policy (You must be logged into your AJMLS account to access this link)

July 29, 2021 Mask Policy

Dear Law School Community:

As you know, the CDC recently issued its recommendation that all Americans regardless of vaccination status wear masks in indoor public places in regions where the coronavirus and especially the Delta variant are spreading rapidly, which would include Georgia. Yesterday, the City of Atlanta issued a mandatory mask mandate that masks must be worn in all indoor places. Accordingly, the Law School will now require that everyone wear a mask while in public settings within the Law School or while in the presence of others. This is a mandatory requirement for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.  

Thank you, Dean Gatewood

July 8, 2021 Vaccination Reminder

As you have been notified, there is a Vaccination Requirement in order to attend school for all students. There are three exemptions you can apply for (Religious, Medical (including Pregnancy), or by Agreement), each of which requires you to agree to submit and upload a weekly negative COVID test in order to attend class in any given week. Failure to comply will result in a student being sent home and marked absent from the class until a negative COVID test is presented. You must upload a valid Vaccination Card, apply for an exemption, and/or execute an agreement to submit a weekly negative COVID test by August 2, 2021 by clicking the link at the top of this page. If you fail to meet this timeframe, you will be unregistered for all classes which may prevent you from attending school in the fall. These matters are serious and should be taken as such.

Students who are planning to get the vaccination or have not been fully vaccinated by the time school starts will be required to submit and upload a weekly negative COVID test and sign an agreement to that effect until such time as a valid vaccination card is uploaded showing you have been fully vaccinated. Applying for an exemption does not relieve you of the obligation to agree to and submit a weekly negative COVID test. 

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.

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 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.

AJMLS Negotiations Team Wins ABA Regional Negotiation Competition

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates the Corporate and Business Law Society’s Negotiations team for winning the ABA’s Regional Negotiation Competition this past weekend. The competition was held in New Orleans at Tulane University and the AJMLS team consisted of Ashley Winston, James Elliott, and Ashley Lewis (alternate). A total of 25 teams participated in the regional competition.

Notably, the Atlanta’s John Marshall team earned a perfect score from one of the judges during the final round. Having secured the regional win, the team will now compete in the national competition in Chicago this upcoming February.

We are incredibly proud of our students and wish them the best of luck in Chicago!

Pictured left to right: Lewis, Elliott, Winston

The team would like to thank the following people:

The Corporate & Business Law Society (CBLS)
David McMichael, Northpoint Commercial Finance, LLC (Sponsor)
Raymond Tran, Seyfarth Shaw LLP (Coach)
Don’etrick Houston, AJMLS Student (VP of the Board Room)
Jeffrey Van Detta, AJMLS Professor
Elizabeth Jaffe, AJMLS Professor
John Gibson, AJMLS Student
Chanceity Robinson, AJMLS Student
Lauren Henderson, AJMLS Student
Shauki Smith, AJMLS Student
The Emory University Negotiations Team
The AJMLS Office of Student Affairs
Browing Jeffries, AJMLS Professor
Dean Morris, Dean of the Law School

About the Negotiation Competition

The ABA Law Student Division Negotiation Competition provides a means for law students to practice and improve their negotiating skills. The competition simulates legal negotiations in which law students, acting as lawyers, negotiate a series of legal problems. The simulations consist of a common set of facts known by all participants and confidential information known only to the participants representing a particular side. All of the simulations deal with the same general topic, but the negotiation situation varies with each round and level of the competition.

1996 Alumna, Tasha M. Mosley, Appointed Clayton County District Attorney

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates 1996 alumna, Tasha M. Mosley, on her recent appointment as District Attorney of the Clayton County Judicial Circuit.

Mosley has served Clayton County as their Solicitor General since 2009, and previously served as Assistant Solicitor General in Henry County as well as Master Assistant Solicitor General from 2004 to 2006, and Assistant Solicitor General from 1998 to 2004 in the Clayton County Judicial Circuit.

After graduating from AJMLS, Mosley was the sole practitioner of the Tasha Mosley Law Firm in Jonesboro before beginning her career in public service.

An active community leader, Mosley has received numerous professional awards, including the 2013 Clayton County Bar Association Community Service Award, 2015 and 2018 Freddie L. Groomes-McClendon Caring Awards, 2018 Angela M. Williams Humanitarian Award, 2018 Regina Crothers from the Heart Award, and 2018 Thompson-Jones Award. She also is a member of the State Bar of Georgia‘s Statewide Judicial Evaluation Committee, Rainbow House Executive Board, and Calvary Refuge Center Executive Board. She is the former Vice Chair of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia, Vice President of the Clayton County Bar Association, and President of the Solicitor General Association of Georgia.*

When asked of the appointment, Governor Kemp remarked:
“For many years, Tasha has worked tirelessly to serve the Clayton County community as a strong advocate for her constituents, both in and out of the courtroom. She is beloved by her neighbors and peers, highly regarded and respected in the legal profession, and ready to take on this new adventure,” said Kemp. “She has the perfect background and personality for this opportunity, and I know that she will excel.”
Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School celebrates its alumni and wishes District Attorney Mosley all the best in her new chapter.

2013 Alumnus, Judge Ethan Pham, Named to Georgia Trend’s 40 Under 40

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates Judge Ethan Pham, Class of 2013, for his recent honor of being named one of Georgia Trend’s 40 Under 40. The 40 individuals were selected by the Georgia Trend staff from more than 400 nominations by readers throughout the state. Judge Pham is a Partner at the Law Firm of Nguyen & Pham LLC and an Associate Judge for the City of Norcross and City of Morrow.

Georgia Trend’s article notes,

Ethan Pham began his law career working for a private firm that represented municipalities around the Atlanta airport. As an assistant city attorney, he advised local governments on the legality and the constitutionality of their actions.

Pham, who immigrated from Vietnam at age 11, says that experience gave him a deeper understanding of the word freedom. “Freedom is not just freedom from oppression from a foreign country, but freedom is also freedom from oppression from your own government,” he says.

Pham is passionate about community service. He is the vice chair of the Gwinnett Transit Advisory Board; a member of the Gwinnett Police Foundation; serves as legal counsel for the Atlanta International Night Market; and is the co-founder of the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Georgia.*

Pham earned a dual bachelor’s degree in Biology and Business Administration with a minor in chemistry. After completing his undergraduate studies, he worked as a tax software developer and dabbled in entrepreneurship via acquisition of a poultry operation. Prior to co-founding Nguyen & Pham, LLC, Pham worked as an assistant city attorney for a private law firm practicing local government law and serving public entities.** Recently, he came in third in last year’s U.S. House District 7 Democratic primary election.

The Law School is proud of Judge Pham’s continued success and we look forward to celebrating with him for many years to come.

2011 Alumnus, Nick Schnyder, Employs Fellow AJMLS Graduates at Nick Schnyder Law Firm, LLC

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) alumnus, Nick Schnyder, has only hired passionate legal minds from his alma mater since opening his firm, Nick Schnyder Law Firm, LLC, in August of 2016. Schnyder’s firm experienced rapid growth and turning to his fellow AJMLS alumni for support has enabled the firm to continue taking on difficult and rewarding cases.

The Nick Schnyder Law Firm was pleased to hire Rebecca Rae, Class of 2012 in 2017, and Matthew Nestrud, Class of 2012, in 2019. Prior to attending law school, Rae accumulated over a decade of legal experience as a legal assistant and paralegal, and is also the co-founder of the non-profit, Flashpoint Artists Initiative, Inc., which has donated approximately $100,000 to local charities over the past 13 years. Nestrud graduated top ten in his class from AJMLS, was the Executive Legislative Editor on Law Review, and competed on the Moot Court Team.

Schnyder also graduated top of his class, passed the bar, and began his journey of becoming a personal injury civil litigation attorney in 2011. His determination to fight for justice is both professional and personal as his own family was injured by medical error in three separate incidents giving him common ground with the clients he serves. Since founding his firm, Schnyder became a member of the Georgia Bar Association, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, and the Cobb County Bar Association. He has also won numerous awards including Top 40 Under 40 from National Trial Lawyers and Georgia Trend’s Legal Elite.

The Law School is proud of the success of its alumni at the Nick Schnyder Law Firm and is pleased to share their work fighting on behalf of Georgia’s injured families.

About Nick Schnyder Law Firm, LLC – Established in 2016. Experienced personal injury and catastrophic injury attorneys in Atlanta, Georgia.

Are you an AJMLS graduate with exciting news or honors to share? Please email us at marketing@johnmarshall.edu.

*Image courtesy of Nick Schnyder Law Firm

Serving Those Who Have Served Us: The AJMLS Homeless Veteran Legal Clinic

Few resources are available to provide free criminal legal services for homeless Veterans, despite the fact that legal services are often essential for removing barriers to obtaining or retaining permanent housing, receiving needed healthcare, income stability, and opening doors to employment. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS), in partnership with the Atlanta Veteran’s Administration Medical Center (VAMC), has created a voluntary Veteran’s Legal Intensive Externship program at Ft. McPherson military installation in East Point, Georgia.

This hybrid clinical externship, known as the Homeless Veteran Legal Clinic, is run by the Office of Experiential Learning and is supervised by AJMLS Alumnus Mr. Corey Martin of Martin and Associates. The hybrid clinic is manned by AJMLS students and operates on a walk-in basis once a month. It is a great opportunity for students to receive externship or pro bono credit.

Since its inception in 2018, 34 referrals have been made to the Homeless Veteran Legal Clinic and AJMLS students have served 23 of the 34 cases. Four veterans have had their charges dismissed, 18 cases received legal consultation, and in five cases legal representation is currently being provided. The average number of referrals are three to four per month. This is a great opportunity for AJMLS students to serve those who have served us. Should you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Assistant Dean, Dr. Bridgett E. Ortega at bortega@johnmarshall.edu.

The Fort McPherson VA Clinic is located at 1701 Hardee Avenue, Southwest Atlanta, GA 30310.

*Image courtesy Atlanta VA Health Care System

2018 Alumna, Calvana Cedant, Has Turned Her Dream Into a Reality

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) 2018 alumna Calvana Cedant has a purpose on this earth to advocate for others, inspire future leaders, and grow organizations she truly believes in. Her path to law school began early on and she has since worked hard to achieve her goals. She was a part of the pre-law magnet program in high school, obtained her undergraduate degree from Clark Atlanta University, and then transitioned to AJMLS where she became actively involved with the school and the community. Through hard work and dedication she was able to turn her dreams into a reality and now works as an Assistant Public Defender for the Henry County Public Defender’s Office.

When asked about her path to law school, her career, and her favorite part about what she does, Calvana stated:

I come from a single mother household of five children. I saw many people from the community I grew up in be processed through the Criminal Justice System and did not understand or know their rights in regards to the criminal court system. I did not grow up knowing one attorney or anyone in the military, and so I set out in life to be both. I have felt this purpose since I was twelve years old and have not deviated from this path since I realized I wanted to be an attorney. I attended Fort Lauderdale High School, a school with a Pre-Law magnet program. In the magnet program, I took Pre-Law courses and I joined the debate team. I graduated with a pre-law high school diploma and moved on to Clark Atlanta University.

Clark Atlanta University would be my next milestone in life, almost 900 miles away from Pompano Beach, Florida and no family in Atlanta, Georgia; I was ready to conquer the unknown. I went from being freshman class secretary to the Vice President of the Political Science Association. During college in February 2012, I joined the United States Army in hopes of graduating from law school and becoming part of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Joining the Army has been one of the best decisions I ever made. I was the first person in my family to serve in the military and I am currently the only member of my family serving in the military. I enjoy the Army because it gives me a sense of purpose and usefulness.

After graduating from Clark Atlanta University I quickly transitioned to Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS). During my matriculation through law school, I went from being Student Body Representative for the Criminal Justice Honors Program to being the President of the Veterans Law Student Association. I enjoyed the student organizations at AJMLS because of the diversity of each organization. I was a member of the Criminal Law Association, the Black Law Student Association, and I became a member of Phi Alpha Delta Fraternity. I was fortunate enough to work as a student coordinator in the Office of Student Affairs and Pro Bono Programs. In the office I was able to work closely with the Street Law Program at Booker T. Washington High School preparing students for a mock trial, and personally mentoring students throughout the program.

While in law school I saw how difficult it was for some students to complete the first year. So during my third year of law school I served as a peer mentor to three first year law students, two of which I am now providing guidance for the July 2019 Georgia bar examination. At AJMLS, I also enjoyed volunteering with the Fort McPherson Veterans Clinic assisting Veterans who needed legal assistance in civil and criminal matters. It’s not a surprise that most of the work that I have done so far in my life has been in the best interest and advancement of someone else. In May 2018, I graduated from AJMLS and began preparing for the Georgia bar examination. In October of 2018 I graduated from the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorney’s professional development academy. The academy provided intensive professional and personal development training for people in the legal profession. Also, in October 2018 I passed the Georgia bar and made my dream come true. I was sworn in to practice law and also selected for the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

In December 2018, I accepted a position with the Henry County Public Defender’s Office and I am still with this office. My current job as an Assistant Public Defender is to be an advocate for indigent clients that deserve zealous representation. I analyze all assigned felony cases, and preform legal research to help advance my client’s case or legal position. I also advise clients of identified defenses and recommend appropriate course of actions for their case. Through our office I have the privilege of being a part of the Henry County Veterans Court team. I assist clients who served in the United States Military be considered for the program. If accepted their mental health or drug dependency issues are addressed and their successful completion of the program can be in lieu of confinement. I have many more duties as an Assistant Public Defender but my favorite part about my career is being an advisor and educator to my clients. I truly enjoy the attorneys and staff I work with. I am challenged and learning something new every day.

My current hobbies consist of traveling when I can and mentoring young girls with aspirations of becoming an attorney. My advice for aspiring lawyers and law students is to be intentional! When you set a goal, when you make a plan, and when you make a life decision always be intentional. Law school is not easy but it is not impossible. Where I am in life is solely because I had faith and was intentional about my life choices and decisions. I am living proof that your dreams can become reality!

The Law School is proud of the work and dedication Calvana has, and we look forward to celebrating her continued success!

Alumna Nicole Fegan Sets a New Tone for Criminal Defense Attorneys

Got Proof?* Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) 2013 alumna Nicole Fegan was recently featured in the Atlanta Attorney at Law Magazine, which discussed her success, relationship with clients and the community, and her image as “the new generation of criminal defense law.” This success and reputation stems not only from her hard work and dedication, but from her ability to reach potential clients through social media and her trademark slogan, Got Proof?*. Her passion, zeal, and devotion to her clients mixed with her reputation help set her apart from other attorneys.

In 2011, Fegan received her undergraduate degree from Drexel University. Then, in 2013, she received her law degree from AJMLS and a year later started her own law firm, Fegan Law, LLC, specializing in criminal defense. She is a member of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and has recently started her own nonprofit, Proof Period, Inc. which helps individuals in the justice system complete their required community service hours.

To view the full feature and learn more about Fegan’s work and her nonprofit, click the picture below:

For more information on Nicole Fegan and her firm, visit feganlaw.com. Congratulations Nicole on all that you have accomplished!

 

*Fegan Law, LLC

**Featured image courtesy of the Attorney at Law Magazine Cover

Alumna Neera Bahl Recently Appointed to the Cobb County Board of Elections

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) alumna Neera Bahl was recently appointed to the Cobb County Board of Elections. In 2000, Bahl received her Juris Doctor degree from AJMLS and has since demonstrated a strong commitment of leadership and dedication towards helping society and her community. She is actively involved with many volunteer projects and professional organizations. She was also a recipient of the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award from AJMLS.

Repost from the Marietta Daily Journal:

“Cobb Republican Party Chairman Jason Shepherd has appointed Marietta attorney Neera Bahl to the Cobb County Board of Elections.

Bahl is the founder and managing partner of One Path Legal. She will replace current Republican Party appointee Joe Pettit, whose term expires June 30.

“Neera brings with her not only a vast amount of experience in the law, but a zeal for growing the Republican base in Cobb County,” Shepherd said in a news release. “I want to thank Joe Pettit for his service on the board, but given what I expect will be a contentious 2020 election, I felt we need someone with the experience and legal skills (that) Neera Bahl will bring to this position.”

A native of India and naturalized U.S. citizen, Bahl received her master’s in English from Punjab University, India; bachelor of education in psychology from D.A.V. College, India; and bachelor of science in chemistry and biology from D.S. College, India.

After moving to the United States, Bahl spent more than 20 years in medical and scientific research before graduating from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in 2000. She is a graduate of the 2018 class of Leadership Cobb and was appointed to the Judicial Nominating Commission by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019.

“I am honored to be appointed to the Board of Elections for Cobb GOP and will do my best to ensure that the elections are administered with utmost fairness and accuracy,” Bahl said. “I greatly appreciate the opportunity to serve in this capacity.”

Cobb GOP Outreach Ambassador Jeff Souther said, “Neera Bahl is a natural fit for the Cobb Board of Elections. Neera’s professional experience as an immigration attorney combined with her life experience as a naturalized citizen drives her passion for civic engagement. She is committed to ensuring every citizen has their voting rights accessible and protected.”

In addition to her legal work, Bahl is a volunteer for the Truancy Intervention Project and with Raksha Inc. helping victims of domestic violence. She is the current president of the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce-South East Chapter.”

To learn more about Neera Bahl and her law firm, One Path Legal, visit their website here. Congratulations, Neera on all that you have accomplished!

*Featured image courtesy of Marietta Daily Journal

Constance Copeland Selected as a Henning Memorial Award Recipient

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School 2019 graduate, Constance Copeland, was selected as a recipient of the Edward J. Henning Memorial Award. This award focuses on recognizing the outstanding efforts of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) students within the state’s five ABA-accredited law schools, one being our very own Atlanta’s John Marshall. It is given to five winners in memory of Ed Henning, one of the “founding fathers” of mediation in Georgia.*

Henning Mediation & Arbitration Service, Inc. provides training for civil mediation, arbitration, and divorce mediation. For more information or to make a contribution towards the Edward J. Henning Memorial Award, visit their website here.

Congratulations Constance on being selected as a recipient! We look forward to celebrating your continued success.

*Henning Mediation & Arbitration Services, Inc. Facebook Post

*Featured image pulled from Henning Mediation & Arbitration Services, Inc. Facebook Post

Meet Your 2019-2020 Student Bar Association Executive Board

Congratulations to the newly appointed 2019-2020 Student Bar Association (SBA) Executive Board! The primary objective of the SBA Executive Board is to represent the viewpoints of the student body, and serve as a conduit between the students and administration. Your 2019-2020 Executive Board is already hard at work on your behalf, and looks forward to a productive academic year.

Let’s meet this year’s Executive Board!

Teana Overton, President

Where were you raised: I was raised in Lithonia, Georgia.

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I earned my Bachelors from Longwood University in Virginia.

What are your future career plans: I am unsure of my legal career path as it is still developing; however, I do know that I will not be satisfied unless I am advocating for disenfranchised groups.

What do you look forward to as the SBA President: I look forward to working with the administration to provide students with the highest quality experience possible.

What are your goals in the position this academic year: My personal goal as SBA President for the 2019-2010 academic year is to be thorough in all endeavors.

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I want my classmates to know that I view my position as one of service, not of power. With that being stated, I look forward to serving as your SBA President.

 

Bethany Johnston, Vice President

Where were you raised: Cedartown, Georgia

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I got my Bachelor’s Degree (Sociology Major with a minor in Mass Communications) at The University of Georgia. I got my Master’s Degree at The University of Phoenix (Health Administration with a specialty in Geriatrics).

What are your future career plans: I am not sure what area of law I would like to pursue as of yet. I am just fortunate to be chasing my dream in my mid-thirties.

What do you look forward to as the SBA Vice President: Being a part of the John Marshall Family and helping others learn ways to become involved.

What are your goals in the position this academic year: To help improve communication and student involvement. I am blessed to be working with a great group on the Executive board this year.

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I am a student, a wife, a mother, and a friend to many. Law school is hard! However, with a great support team it is possible to achieve your dreams. I am always here to help support all the students in whatever ways I can. We are a team at John Marshall!

 

Mario Pereira, Treasurer

Where were you raised: I was born in Colombia and came to the United States when I was three years old. I was raised in West Orange New Jersey and moved to Georgia when I was 17.

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I completed my undergraduate degree at Barry University, a Catholic university located in Miami, Florida. 

What are your future career plans: My future career goal is to practice immigration law.

What do you look forward to as the SBA Treasurer: As SBA Treasurer I look forward to working closely with the SBA board, students, and faculty.

What are your goals in the position this academic year: My goal as SBA Treasurer is to appropriately manage our budget to have sufficient funds for the necessities of the school and our students.

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I want my classmates to know that I am very approachable and always willing to lend a helping hand.

 

Promiss Yarber, Secretary

Where were you raised: I was born and raised in Macon, Georgia.

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I completed my undergraduate education at Georgia Southern University and majored in English and Writing.

What are your future career plans: My future career plans are unclear because I kind of go with the flow and don’t commit myself to one thing. However, I am seriously considering working at a real estate firm right now.

What do you look forward to as the SBA Secretary: As SBA Secretary, I look forward to being the voice of the students and being able to talk to more students, gather their concerns and ideas, and share them with the administration. I look forward to making communication between students and the SBA Board Members easier and more efficient.

What are your goals in the position this academic year: My goals are to just make everyone feel comfortable with voicing their concerns and feel as though their concerns are being addressed accordingly.

What do you want your classmates to know about you: I’m pretty much an open book. I want them to know that I’m very approachable and easy to talk to/understanding. I like playing tennis so if anyone needs a tennis partner they should befriend me!

 

Whitnie Carter, Parliamentarian

Where were you raised: I was raised in Woodstock, Ga. 

Where did you complete your undergraduate and/or graduate education: I earned my Bachelors degree at Georgia State University.

What are your future career plans: Ideally, I want to become an Athletic Director of Compliance for an institution or in-house for a conference. However, it’s all in God’s plan. 

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 2019-2020 academic year is to allow transparency and provide as much feedback to students to allow them to have the best law school experience. 

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 anyway I can. We are John Marshall Proud! 

 

 

 

 

We would also like to thank the 2018-2019 Board for your tireless work on behalf of the Atlanta’s John Marshall student body. We are excited to follow your success as new attorneys.

 

2018 Alumna, Jennifer Magruder, Paves Way by Starting a Law Firm

Being a native of Atlanta, Jennifer A. Magruder graduated from Kennesaw State University with a degree in Marketing and Public Relations. However, she has always had an interest in the law and decided to pursue her true passion by attending Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS). In 2018, Magruder received her Juris Doctor degree and graduated with Criminal Justice Honors. She then went on to take the Georgia bar exam that July and was admitted to practice law in October of 2018. About a month later, after working with a few other solo practitioners, Magruder decided to take a leap of faith and opened her own law firm focused on Personal Injury, Criminal Defense and Immigration. Her favorite part about owning her own firm is that she is able to pace herself with her case flow and control the amount of time allotted to each case that comes through her firm. She hopes to continue to provide the same mentorship and guidance to AJMLS students she had received throughout her law school journey.

Congratulations on all that you have accomplished Jennifer! We look forward to celebrating your continued success.

Alumnus Burl Finkelstein Featured in the Daily Report

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) alumnus, Burl Finkelstein, was recently featured in the Daily Report on Law.com. The article, Georgia GC Discusses White House Meeting With Trade Officials, was featured in the April 15th edition as a full story on p. 5. You can also find the article online here.

The article is a worthy read that goes into detail on the Coalition of a Prosperous America annual trade conference at the White House. One person in particular that attended this event was Finkelstein, who later went on to speak with Corporate Counsel on his history with the coalition and his biggest takeaways from the event. This conversation included Finkelstein’s take on what attracted him to the coalition, the industries represented at the conference, conversation highlights, discussions on tariffs, and his biggest revelation during the meeting.* In this article, Finkelstein does a great job at providing an insider’s insight to the conference and conveying overall messages.

When asked about his involvement, Finkelstein mentioned that:

“Being a lawyer made many differences in my life and effectives in business. My legal training and business background helped me understand trade law so I could meaningfully engage the policy makers.”

Finkelstein attended AJMLS in the part-time evening program and graduated in 2005. He passed the bar on his first try that following July. Currently, he is the Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Kason Industries Inc. Congratulations on all that you have accomplished in your career thus far and all that you are set to accomplish in the future!

*Law.com

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Welcomes Congresswoman Lucy McBath as 2019 Commencement Speaker

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is pleased to announce Congresswoman Lucy McBath as the Law School’s 2019 commencement speaker. Commencement exercises are scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. on May 18, 2019 at the Georgia World Congress Center – 285 Andrew Young International Boulevard NW Atlanta, GA 30313.

The Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is both honored and thrilled to have Congresswoman Lucy McBath as its graduation speaker this year. Congresswoman McBath is a true champion of the people as evidenced by her longtime commitment to community service and supporting both civil rights and educational opportunities for all. We look forward to her inspirational remarks to send our graduates on their way to successful legal careers. – Dean Malcolm L. Morris

 

About Congresswoman Lucy McBath

Congresswoman Lucy McBath is a mother, a wife, an author and an activist, but the most important title she will ever hold is Jordan’s Mom. She spent 30 years working for Delta Airlines as a flight attendant until the death of her 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, in 2012. Jordan was shot and killed in what became known as the “Loud Music Shooting.” After his death, The Congresswoman turned to activism. She has dedicated her life to preventing other families from experiencing the same tragedy that she did.

Congresswoman McBath held dual roles as the national spokesperson for Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, as well as faith and outreach leader for both. After years of advocating to local, state, and federal legislators, and in the wake of the Parkland shooting, she decided to run for Congress.

In addition to her experiences with gun violence, the Congresswoman was inspired to run for Congress because she is a two-time breast cancer survivor. She knows the importance of covering those with preexisting conditions and increasing accessibility to quality and affordable health care. The Congresswoman proudly represents Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District.

 

Tickets are not required for entry. For general information you can visit our graduation page here and/or our logistics page here for further details. There will be a small reception immediately following the ceremony for the graduates and their guests, faculty, staff, and volunteers.

*Biography information courtesy of mcbath.house.gov

*Featured image courtesy of mcbath.house.gov official portrait

AJMLS Alumna, Antonette Igbenoba, Accepts Position at Global Corporation

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) 2016 alumna, Antonette Igbenoba, recently accepted a position at Ernst & Young (EY) with a focus in data privacy, an area of law she is most passionate about.

After receiving her Theatre B.A. from Penn State University, Igbenoba began the next journey towards her career: law school. Her degree along with her passion for public service helped drive her towards attending AJMLS. While at AJMLS, Igbenoba became actively involved in her courses and extracurricular activities. Outside of classes, she taught Sunday school to elementary kids, did community service projects at Atlanta Mission through the Christian Legal Society, and was a member of the Black Law Students Association. In addition to her volunteer work, she actively networked with data privacy professionals in order to learn more about the industry and how she could excel in her career. Igbenoba obtained an externship with a technology law firm where she was exposed to new legal experiences and, as a result, fell in love with the data privacy and cybersecurity law industry.

“My favorite part about the job and data privacy law is the creativity that my position allows,” said Igbenoba. “Data privacy in many ways reminds me of art, it is flexible and there is always new technology being created and new challenges to step-up to.”

After taking the bar, she took a leap and founded her own data privacy and security consulting firm called “The Privacy Source LLC.” Here, she was able to gain hands-on experience building data privacy programs for startup eCommerce businesses and helping them comply with necessary data privacy laws.

After several months of building up her portfolio through her firm, Igbenoba applied for a position with EY’s Cybersecurity Practice and, following a lengthy interview process, was offered the job. Through all of the hard work and dedication put towards an industry she is passionate about, Igbenoba is now able to develop new processes and procedures for EY’s clients in order to help them comply with data privacy laws. She is also able to utilize her knowledge of the industry and help shape the future.

“Privacy is amazing because America has no federal privacy law (in America we have a sectoral approach to privacy e.g. HIPPA applies to Healthcare data matters),” said Igbenoba.  “Congress is currently in the process of brain-storming a federal privacy law, so the government frequently has public sessions and inquires to get input from data privacy professionals, in essence, I have a route available to help craft beneficial and necessary policy!”

Outside of work, Igbenoba finds herself staying busy by getting involved with her community. Currently, she is a Civic Fellow with Hands on Atlanta where she leads a service project that works to combat food insecurity in the Atlanta area. (For more information on her upcoming events, visit the website here)

When asked if she had any advice for aspiring attorneys, Igbenoba gave two points to those chasing their dreams. The first is to, “Do what sets your heart on fire. Go exactly after your passion, what makes you happy, or what brings you fulfillment.” The second is, “Focus on yourself! This is your unique life and your unique journey! Everyone’s path differs, if you’re too focused on getting the approval, thumbs up, or support from others, you’re wasting your time.”

The Law School is incredibly proud of Antonette’s dedication to the community and we look forward to celebrating her continued success.

BLSA and CBLS Named Outstanding Student Organizations of Spring 2019

As the Spring semester at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) comes to an end, we are thrilled to recognize the hard work and dedication our students have put both inside and outside of the classroom. Congratulations to the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and the Corporate and Business Law Society (CBLS) on being named the Outstanding Student Organization of the Semester for Spring 2019. This award recognizes student organizations that have excelled in leadership and positively contributed to AJMLS, the students, and the community around them.

Below are a few of the events sponsored by the BLSA and CBLS from this semester:

 

BLSA:
2019 BLSA GALA
Mr. and Miss John Marshall Scholarship and Charity Pageant
LexisNexis Study Tip Days
Forever Family Donation Drive
Guidance Gathering

 

BLSA celebrated its 26th Anniversary at the Gathering Spot and recognized current students and prominent attorneys and alumni in the Atlanta area. The organization also raised over $5,000 for scholarships and the Covenant House at the first ever Covenant House Scholarship Pageant.

(Congratulations to the winner of this year’s pageant:
Miss John Marshall: Syndi Marshall
Mr. John Marshall: Bryce Bell
2nd Runner Up Miss John Marshall: Samantha Beskin
2nd Runner Up Mr. John Marshall: Hunter Burkhalter
People’s Choice Award: Sydni Marshall for having raised in excess of $600
Philanthropy Award: Heather Tucker for having raised in excess of $800)

 

CBLS:
CBLS Corporate and Business Law Forum
Covenant House Volunteer Days and Professional Outreach
Planned Pethood Volunteer Project
End It Movement Table Event

 

CBLS promoted volunteerism in the community and also held a forum which allowed students the opportunity to meet practicing attorneys in the Atlanta area from firms such as Nelson Mullins.

 

The Selection Committee was impressed by the effort and hard work of the two organizations. Visit the site here to learn more about all of our student organizations.

AJMLS Student, Kristian Postma, Selected for the 2019 Inspiring Mothers of Georgia Award

Congratulations to Kristian Postma, a student here at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS), for being selected as one of six recipients of the 2019 Inspiring Mothers of Georgia Award. This award, given by the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) Coalition of Georgia, is presented to inspirational mothers all across the state of Georgia. The HMHB Coalition of Georgia has been a statewide voice for mothers and babies to have improved access to healthcare and health outcomes. Each year, this organization awards inspiring mothers based on their demonstration of certain characteristics such as strength, sacrifice, caring nature, compassion and generosity; characteristics that Kristian demonstrates daily at home, work, and school. Winners have the opportunity to attend the annual Mother’s Day Luncheon, where they will be honored and given a chance to share their story with their families and the community. Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from a few empowerment speakers including award-winning author, Kate Rope, and Founding Director of RestoreHER, Pamela Winn.

Visit the Third Annual Mother’s Day Luncheon & Inspiring Mothers of Georgia Awards page for more information about the award and this year’s recipients.

*Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia

Congratulations to the 2019 Resilience Scholarship Recipients

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) would like to take a moment to congratulate Breana Hampton and Jane McCoy on being recipients of the 2019 Resilience Scholarship. The Resilience Scholarship is a need-based scholarship that was created to help alleviate some of the financial stress associated with law school and acknowledge phenomenal students who have overcome substantial hardships. It was created by Tracy Johnson, a member of the AJMLS family and someone who embodies all that the scholarship is. Both part-time and full-time students are eligible to apply as long as you are a 2L, 3L, or 4L currently enrolled with an a minimum cumulative G.P.A. of 2.0.

We wish you the best of luck as you work hard towards graduating!

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law Journal to Host Symposium: Accountability Courts

On March 22, 2019, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) will host its annual Law Journal Symposium. This event, held at the Blackburn Conference Center from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., will consist of many esteemed guest speakers and judges all focused on this year’s topic: Accountability Courts in Georgia. Registrants will have the opportunity to receive 6.0 CLE credits for this event. Those seeking CLE credit must register under “Attorney Admission” and pay $30 (costs will cover the Bar’s booking fees). However, the event is free and open to any law students, judges, legislators, and the general public who wish to attend.

The symposium’s topic will focus on providing detailed knowledge and insight into Georgia’s Accountability Court programs. These programs are designed to rehabilitate nonviolent offenders who spend significant time behind bars. It is a proven solution and AJMLS hopes to educate criminal law students on the problem along with the positive impact the programs can have now and in the future.

“First and foremost, I wanted to plan a CLE that brings awareness to these programs,” said Taylor Deciano, AJMLS’ Law Journal’s Editor in Chief.  “Accountability courts in GA are still relatively new (est. 2015), but have grown exponentially in the last four years. Secondly, my goal is to teach those in practice how to better advocate for an at-risk defendant, whether that is better understanding the program’s structure, better understanding a presiding judge’s point of view, or listening to miscellaneous tips and tricks for advocating in these courts.”

 

Presentations and the moderated discussion topics include:

“The Council of Accountability Court Judges Processes and Outcomes,”

“Restoring Lives Alliance and Practical Lawyering in these Courts,”

“CACJ 101,”

“DUI Courts,”

“Drug Courts,”

“Parental Accountability Courts,”

“Veterans Court.”

While the overall subject matter is different, one of this year’s presentations on Veterans Court is meant to play on last year’s topic of Veterans Law. Previous year’s topics included business law, immigration, juvenile justice, criminal defense, and privacy, meaning this will be a first for the Accountability Courts topic.

“More than anything, I hope our guests walk away with practical tools they can use in practice and a better understanding of accountability courts,” said Deciano. “A bonus would be that someone walks away inspired to start a program like this in their home jurisdiction that does not yet have any or all of these programs.”

In addition to the admired guest speakers and discussion topics scheduled throughout the day, breakfast and lunch will be served as well. Space is limited so make sure to register today!

Click here for more information and to register for the event.

AJMLS Students Volunteer at Gideon’s Promise Trainer Development Conference

On January 19, 2019, Gideon’s Promise hosted their annual Trainer Development Conference (TDC) in Atlanta and offered Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) students the unique opportunity to volunteer and participate. At the conference, AJMLS students played the role of young attorneys where they conducted opening statements, cross examinations, as well as role played some challenging ethical hypotheticals. They received feedback and coaching from the seasoned public defenders and law school clinicians at the conference.

The President and Founder of Gideon’s Promise, Professor Jonathan Rapping, is the Director of the Criminal Justice Certificate Program at Atlanta’s John Marshall and the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant.

*Gideon’s Promise is one of the nation’s leading public defender education programs. It uses a comprehensive, interactive curriculum to prepare new public defenders to raise the standard of representation in challenging environments. The program teaches values, substantive knowledge, skills essential to being a public defender, and helps its lawyers develop strategies for implementing these lessons in the courthouses where they work.

The Trainer Development Conference teaches cutting edge techniques for legal professionals who educate existing or future lawyers who represent poor people accused of crimes. TDC is only offered to members of the public defender community. It is open to public defender trainers and clinical professors who teach exclusively in criminal defense clinics.

The effectiveness of Gideon’s Promise training is evidenced by its support from leading foundations such as the Open Society Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the United States Department of Justice. Gideon’s Promise has partnered with over 45 offices to provide training to young public defenders across 17 states.

When asked about working with the AJMLS student volunteers, here’s what a few conference participants had to say:

“I could not believe that these students had come in for a full day on a holiday weekend, and they had come in prepared (more than many attorneys I’ve worked with in NIDA trainings before) – and then they were THANKING us.  I was impressed by their diligence, their openness to feedback, and the improvements that they made during each session, and I think we are in very good hands if they represent the next generation of lawyers.”

Elizabeth Nevins, Associate Clinical Professor, Attorney-in-Charge, Criminal Justice Clinic, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University

“One of our students prepared a cross-examination that was on the advanced level, she asked one fact per question and when the witness got squirrely, she naturally looped to keep him on track. It was an incredible cross-examination.

Beyond being prepared for their exercises, our students were all-in on listening to each other when the others were presenting. You could see the growth happening in real-time.”

Brent Getty, Deputy Training Development Coordinator, Office of the State Public Defender, Montana

“The John Marshall law students I met at the Gideon’s Promise Trainer Development Conference exceeded my expectations in every way. They were well prepared, smart, and engaging. I hope to see them at our office in the future.”

Christopher Hernandez, Deputy Public Defender, El Paso County Public Defender’s Office

“The John Marshall Students were far and away the most prepared law students I have seen at a training event. Many of them had never taken a trial advocacy course, but they had strong ideas and were dedicated to improving their skills to benefit their future clients. Never have I seen such dedication from such a group of young students.”

Ray Ibarra, Education Supervisor, Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy

*Gideon’s Promise

Alumnus, Vincent A. Lotti, Sworn in as Henry County Magistrate Judge

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) congratulates Vincent A. Lotti, Class of 2010, for his recent appointment 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.

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 Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, Lotti entered private practice and founded his own practice representing clients in both civil and criminal cases.*

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

*Henry Harold

Atlanta’s John Marshall Alumni Are Sworn Into Practice at Mass Swearing-In Ceremony

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School hosted a mass swearing-in ceremony for its recent graduates and alumni on November 29, 2018 at the Blackburn Conference Center. The Law School was honored by Justice Carol Hunstein of the Georgia Supreme Court and Judge T. Jackson Bedford of the Fulton County Superior Court. Thank you to all who participated and congratulations to all the graduates!

Images from the event may be viewed here or at the Facebook post below. Be sure to follow the Law School page for other updates and images around campus!

Alumnus, William J. Black III, Sworn Into Practice at Pershing Point Park’s WWI Monument

On Tuesday, November 20, 2018, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) Alumnus and U.S. Air Force Veteran, William J. (Billy) Black III, was sworn into the practice of law by DeKalb County Superior Court Judge and U.S. District Court Nominee Hon. J.P. Boulee. The ceremony took place in Pershing Point Park, across West Peachtree Street from the Law School. Mr. Black’s mother, wife, sister, niece, and nephew attended. Honored guests included Mr. Richard H. Deane, Jr., managing partner of Jones Day’s Atlanta Office, and a major force in renovating the park which honors Fulton County residents who lost their lives in World War I.

In Billy’s words:

My swearing-in at Pershing Point was so much more than a ceremonial formality or personal celebration for passing the bar. I chose the Park’s World War I monument as the location because I researched its complicated racial history while in law school. The monument contains a memorial ledger of soldiers killed in WWI from Fulton County. The list segregates its black soldiers by listing them at the bottom right corner of the memorial ledger underneath an inscription etched in stone: “NEGROES.” The monument lay neglected for nearly 100 years until 2014 when a young associate attorney at Jones Day, J.P. Boulee, and now a U.S. District Court Judge Nominee, led a firm wide effort to revitalize the monument and park. Also present was Richard (Rick) Deane, former U.S. Attorney and managing partner at Jones Day, who devoted a substantial effort to ensure the park was maintained and preserved in the future. I had the chance to interview Rick while researching my article. Both he and Judge Boulee were instrumental in my understanding of the monument and how they approached its complicated history when they sought to clean up Pershing Point. I expand on this understanding in my article and also present the black soldiers’ military service history following its trail throughout their time in Europe. It also suggests a judicial framework for approaching cases involving the removal of veterans monuments from public land.  
To me, my swearing-in celebrated the intersection of our shared histories spanning 100 years from a time when society was nearly destroyed by racial animus to now, when a few Veteran lawyers from diverse backgrounds could finally be the voice for those who were segregated even in death and possibly reconcile a new understanding of how far we’ve come from then to now. As a Veteran, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to pledge my oath as an attorney than to do so while standing next to my fallen brothers and raising my right hand like we all did as soldiers. 

Mr. Black, who served as Editor-in-Chief of Volume 11 of the John Marshall Law Journal, researched and published an article on the history and interpretations of the imposing monument erected in that Park in 1920 by the War Mothers of Fulton County. See William J. Black, A Higher Loyalty To Their Ultimate Sacrifice: Segregated Black War Casualties And Society’s Monumental Mistake, 11 John Marshall Law Journal 34 (2018).

During his tenure as Editor-in-Chief of the Law Journal, Black led the effort that produced the well-received and highly successful 2017 Symposium & CLE Event on Veterans’ Issues and the Law. Judge Boulee was one of the featured speakers at that event, where he discussed the concept of accountability courts for veterans as an alternative to traditional adjudication.

Mr. Black is now working as a cybersecurity software engineer at Equifax and pursuing a Master of Laws in Securities and Financial Regulation at Georgetown University Law Center. He also volunteers as a Special Assistant District Attorney in Cobb County under the supervision of Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Mike Carlson, primarily on gang related criminal appeals.

He is hoping to explore an attorney career in cybersecurity, government investigations and special matters, and working directly with corporate or government clients advising their application development teams, data protection officers, and cybersecurity engineers on IT Security Risks, databreach management, regulatory responses, and deploying secure development practices that comport with federal, state, and international cybersecurity laws.

The Law School is incredibly proud of Billy’s research and service, and we look forward to celebrating his continued success.

Announcing the Loss of Our Dear Friend, Allan Brezel

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is saddened to announce the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Allan Brezel. Allan was the Law School’s Associate Dean for Finance (and prior Chief Financial Officer). Known for his fatherly demeanor and dry humor, the AJMLS family feels lucky to have met Allan in early 2011. Our hearts are with his family, who were his everything.

Re post from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Allan Brezel, age 64, Marietta, GA, died November 17, 2018. Allan was a caring man who loved his family with all of his heart. Allan was originally from Queens, New York. The son of two holocaust survivors who grew up helping his parents run their family owned clothing store on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan. Allan and his wife, Susan, relocated to the Atlanta area where he attended Emory University, earning a master’s degree in accounting.

In Atlanta, Allan and Susan put down roots and made friends who became family. The three children that Allan and Susan raised together were Allan’s greatest loves. Allan enjoyed playing golf, watching the stock market, taking long walks along the Chattahoochee River, and spending as much time as possible with his three granddaughters who called him ‘Pop-Pop’. Allan was well known amongst his friends and family for being a good listener and giving sound advice. Allan made a positive impact on everyone he met and the world will be a little darker without his warm hugs and bright smile.

He is survived by his wife, Susan Brezel; daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer and Matthew Kulkin; son and future daughter-in-law, Jonathan Brezel and Michaela Hankinson; daughter and son-in-law, Jordan and Michael Levene; brother and sister-in-law, Dr. Ted and Claire Brezel; brother and sister-in-law, Dr. Mitchell and Lisa Brezel; grandchildren: Ava, Julia and Elise.

Sign online guest book at www.edressler.com. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research (www.lustgarten.org).

A graveside service will be held Monday, November 19, 2018 at 3:00 pm at Arlington Memorial Park with Rabbi Joshua Heller officiating. Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, Atlanta (770) 451-4999.

Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from November 18 to November 19, 2018

Atlanta’s John Marshall Hosts 9th Annual Owl Classic Invitational Mock Trial Tournament

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School was pleased to host the 9th Annual Owl Classic Invitation Mock Trial Tournament for Kennesaw State University this past weekend. Over the course of two days, the competition welcomed 180 participants and 25 judges to Atlanta and the Law School.

Thank you to this year’s coordinators: Dr. Elizabeth Gordon, Mary Loudermilk, Callie Christian, and Gillian Morris, it was a pleasure to work with you and host the tournament.

Congratulations to the top trial teams at the 2018 Haunted Owl Classic!

First place: Lee University (Skeletons)
Second place: University of South Carolina (Witches)
Third place: University of Florida (Monsters)
Fourth place: Middle Tennessee State University (Goblins)
Fifth place: Kennesaw State University (Pumpkins)

The outstanding attorney award winners:

Ben Asher, Lee University
Kayla Long, Middle Tennessee State University
Ben Wycoff, Lee University
Grace Russ, University of South Carolina
Nichole Laverde, Kennesaw State University
Emily Laurare, Spelman College, received special recognition for winning awards on both sides of the case

The outstanding witness award winners:

Lawrence Hall, Kennesaw State University
Jordan Jackson, Mercer University
Bryn Sluder, University of South Carolina
Madeline Burgess, Lee University
Madison Mermeistein, Mercer University
Grace Anne Cochrane, Lee University
Kyle Lang, University of South Carolina
Tom Morrison, Georgia State University

Congratulations to all the participants and thank you to the judges for volunteering your time!

Lee University

University of South Carolina

University of Florida

Middle Tennessee State University

AJMLS Civil Liberties Seminar Successfully Represents Public School Students in Disciplinary Hearings

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) students are working to dismantle the school to prison pipeline in their Civil Liberties Litigation Seminar, taught by Professor Kathleen M. Burch. The three-credit elective seminar allows Atlanta’s John Marshall students to work on live legal issues and gain clinic-like experience working with a civil liberties issue.

This semester, in collaboration with attorneys from Georgia Legal Services, the Seminar students are representing local public school students in disciplinary hearings. In preparation, the AJMLS students learned the school disciplinary process and students’ right to due process during investigations and hearings.

As a result, two public school students were able to return to their classrooms this week. The AJMLS students wrote the briefs appealing the discipline by the hearing officers to the respective school boards, and both school boards determined that the expulsions were not warranted.

The Law School is proud of the hard work of our students in the community and is thrilled to offer these hands-on experiences in and outside the classroom.

Alumna, Fallon McClure, Helps Bring Change to Georgia Communities at Spread the Vote

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) alumna, Fallon McClure, currently serves as the Georgia State Director for Spread the Vote. McClure graduated from AJMLS in 2014, and her path to Spread the Vote is an inspiring one to share.

After graduating from Georgia State University with a B.A. in History, McClure started in public service on the other end of the 911 line working as an Emergency Communications Officer for Cobb County. Inspired by family to pursue legal education, McClure enrolled in law school out-of-state. Soon after, she felt called back to family and began her full-time career as a paralegal in Atlanta.

McClure transferred to Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and completed her J.D. studies in the part-time evening program at AJMLS while maintaining her full-time job as a paralegal during the day and also starting a family. Through both the on-campus Career Development Office and the Office of Experiential Learning, McClure completed an internship in private practice and also an externship at a District Attorney’s office in Atlanta.

After graduation, McClure began working at the ACLU of Georgia as the Special Assistant to the Executive Director and then later became the Policy Advocate. Working at the ACLU allowed her to help organize and empower communities with the tools to advocate for themselves, and in doing so, helped her define that community outreach was her passion.

McClure transitioned to become the Georgia State Director for Spread the Vote where she has been able to help bring immediate change to Georgia communities while also maintaining a caseload of criminal defense cases. The mission of Spread the Vote is to help obtain government-issued photo IDs for eligible voters. They are building a scale-able and sustainable way to help voters get the IDs they need for job, housing, voting, and healthcare needs.* Spread the Vote is actively expanding and currently has state chapters in Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas, and Georgia chapters in Athens, Atlanta, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Henry County, South Cobb/Paulding Counties, Albany, Gwinnett County, Rome, Columbus, and Macon.

The Law School is incredibly proud of Fallon’s dedication to her education and service to communities in Georgia and we look forward to celebrating her continued success.

*Spread the Vote