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.


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


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.

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?


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!