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John Marshall Law School has established its first legal advocacy center as part of an ongoing effort to boost enrollment and prepare for the American Bar Association accreditation team’s October visit. The center will house John Marshall’s in-house advocacy programs, said John E. Ryan, John Marshall’s dean. Jon P. Thames, a professor who teaches constitutional law, evidence and advocacy, will serve as the center’s director. The Atlanta school has sent students to the American Trial Lawyers Association’s mock trial competitions, Ryan said, and within the past few years has started an in-house appellate advocacy competition. Second-year students take a required appellate advocacy course and compete at semester’s end. Starting this fall, Ryan said, the best oral advocates and brief-writers may join the moot court team and compete outside the school. Ryan wants to enter teams in national competitions such as the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s National Moot Court Competition and the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C. Eventually, he wants the center to host outreach programs for young lawyers. Said Ryan, “This is just a starting point. … What will ultimately develop is going to be dependent on the creative juices of Jon and myself.” The ABA’s standards for law school approval say trial and appellate advocacy are two professional skills that fulfill its curriculum standard. Also as part of its drive to attract new students, John Marshall is undergoing a $750,000 renovation, which will increase space by 25 percent, and has started advertising on the radio. The school has 100 students, but Ryan said in May that he hopes the changes will expand enrollment to 400 or 500 by 2005. The Georgia Supreme Court has given John Marshall until Aug. 31, 2008, to get provisional ABA accreditation. If John Marshall fails, those who graduate after that date would not be eligible to take the State Bar exam. The school has made three recent unsuccessful attempts at accreditation. The ABA has indicated it didn’t grant accreditation because the school needed a bigger law library, more support staff and secretaries, raises in faculty pay, more faculty scholarship and writing, better finances, and higher bar pass scores Since Ryan became dean last year, the school expanded its library and adopted student and faculty handbooks.

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