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John Marshall Law School in Atlanta has a high-powered new board member, Benno C. Schmidt Jr., the former president of Yale University and dean of the Columbia University School of Law. He is now the chairman of the board of Edison Schools, a private manager of public schools. Edison has contracts to manage 79 public schools with an enrollment of 38,000 in 16 states and 36 cities. The company manages these schools in return for per-pupil funding that is generally comparable to that spent on other public schools in the area. Edison opened the Drew Charter School in East Lake, Georgia, in August. The company also operates two elementary schools in Macon, Georgia. “We are fortunate that a scholar, educator and administrator of Mr. Schmidt’s stature has agreed to join the John Marshall board,” says Michael C. Markovitz, chairman of the John Marshall board of directors. “His experience in legal education and academic administration will be invaluable as we work to achieve American Bar Association accreditation.” The seven-member John Marshall Law School board includes two psychologists, Markovitz and Dr. Harold J. O’Donnell; Harold R. Banke, former chief judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals; the Rev. E. Randel T. Osborn, vice president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and two attorneys, Roberta Colton and Kirk Post. Schmidt was president of Yale from 1986 to 1992 and served as Columbia Law School’s dean from 1984 to 1986. He received both his bachelor’s and law degrees from Yale. Board members of John Marshall Law School receive $700 for each board meeting they attend, says Robert J. D’Agostino, dean of the law school. The board meets four times a year. Under the leadership of D’Agostino, the law school has been seeking provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association since 1997. The American Bar Association in June denied John Marshall accreditation. D’Agostino says Schmidt’s decision to join the John Marshall board will enhance the school’s reputation with the ABA. “It gives the message that we are a substantial institution and we aren’t going away. It’s nothing but positive for us,” he says. “When you tell people Benno Schmidt is coming on, they take you a lot more seriously.” Schmidt did not return phone calls.

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