Career Story: Judge-Advocate In The US Army

Judge-Advocate In The US Army

Job Title: Judge Advocate (Military Lawyer)

Type of Company: Judge Advocates provide the full range of legal services to commanders and soldiers and their families and are assigned worldwide. We practice law in almost every area of legal expertise, including contract and fiscal law, criminal law, wills, torts, property law, international law, legal assistance, labor and employment law, environmental law, and civil litigation.

Education: BA, Criminology, University of Maryland •• J.D., UCLA •• LL.M., Military Law, The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School

Previous Experience: I worked as a victim and witness liaison for a district attorney's office, keeping witnesses and victims informed about the status of the cases they were involved in. While in law school, I volunteered at a Legal Aid office, providing legal assistance to low-income defendants. I also interned for a federal judge and for a law firm.

Job Tasks: A new judge advocate will typically work in a legal assistance office, providing legal advice to soldiers and their families. You see several clients a day and advise them on anything from landlord-tenant problems to marital and child custody issues. Attorneys work on their own for the most part but can consult as they choose with their colleagues and supervisors.

To give you an example: let's say a soldier has consulted you about his car, which is threatened with repossession. You assess his financial situation, find out what he wants, and contact the creditor to try to broker a settlement and perhaps a payment plan, if that's what the soldier desires.

Judge advocates, however, can also serve as prosecutors or defense counsel. I've served as both. Cases are tried in a court-martial, which is the military version of a criminal court. Here military lawyers question witnesses, admit evidence and argue for or against the defendant, just as they would in a regular courtroom.

But in addition to acting as lawyers, judge advocates are always soldiers as well and have to stay fit, training the way that other soldiers do and maintaining their martial skills too. Every morning, we have physical exercise; we regularly practice firing our weapons and we occasionally go on maneuvers.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is working with American heroes on a daily basis. Those who have volunteered to serve their country deserve the finest legal assistance we can give them.

The worst part of the job is, well... there really isn't one! I guess I'd say that there are days when I don't feel like running several miles at 6:30 in the morning. So, on those days, having to get up early is the worst part.

Job Tips:
1.) First and foremost, you need to go to law school. But there is no mandatory undergraduate degree. Major in whatever interests you. Don't feel that you have to major in Pre-Law.

2.) Get some experience and exposure to what lawyers do. Volunteer at a legal aid clinic. Get a job working in an attorney's office. It doesn't matter what job you do; just get exposure so you know this is the career for you.

3.) Join ROTC in college. You can earn a scholarship that will help pay for college and you'll gain valuable military experience which will benefit you when you join the JAG Corps.

Additional Thoughts: People are often surprised by how varied my work in the Army has been. I have been a legal assistance attorney, a claims attorney, a prosecutor, a defense counsel, an administrative law attorney, and a legal advisor to criminal investigators. I am now serving as a judge. The JAG Corps has provided me with so much training and experience that I could take any legal job anywhere in America and do it well.

For more information on career opportunities in the JAG Corps, check out our website at www.jagcnet.army.mil/Recruiting.

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