BY KRIS DELLAPINA
People in the Navy JAG corps like to describe it as a world-wide law firm. The Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps is comprised of approximately 750 attorneys who serve as commissioned officers in pay grades ranging from lieutenant junior grade through rear admiral. They are stationed throughout the continental U.S., overseas and aboard ships.
As a JAG officer, you build attorney skills, exercise leadership and serve your country. You experience many areas of legal practice, form professional relationships with mentors and enjoy new friendships with colleagues.
Navy Judge Advocates have the unique opportunity to serve our country as naval officers while practicing the legal profession. After formal training and with appropriate supervision, new judge advocates are given the opportunity to perform as attorneys representing their own clients. Most of our new judge advocates begin their practice of law in a Naval Legal Service Office or Trial Service Office for a three-year tour.
Approximately 12 to 18 months of the new judge advocate’s first three years with the Navy JAG Corps will be spent working in criminal matters. This normally entails trying courts-martial as prosecutors or defense counsel. As a newly commissioned JAG Corps officer, you are responsible for the preparation and presentation of your own cases, thus experiencing the challenge of trial advocacy is yours from the outset.
The experience Navy judge advocates gain in this challenging environment includes presenting evidence, examining witnesses, delivering oral arguments, and preparing trial and appellate briefs. This hands-on experience and responsibility, generally acquired in your first tour of duty, will hone your advocacy skills and provide a strong background that will be drawn on for the remainder of your legal career. Judge advocates also gain experience as general practitioners by providing free legal assistance to military personnel and their families. Finally, new judge advocates have the opportunity, while administering tort-claims regulations, to negotiate and deal directly with civilian attorneys who represent individual clients and insurance companies.
At the end of four years as a naval officer, you will have enhanced your own advocacy style and discovered many things about yourself, such as what you really want to do as a practicing attorney. That could mean continuing your military career as an active duty or reserve naval officer, or it may mean reverting to civilian life, well pleased with your personal growth and professional achievements.
Applying for a commission as a Navy JAG Corps officer while you are a law student is the first step in this path of professional development and personal satisfaction.
[For more information or for applications, please log on to www.jag.navy.mil. For additional questions or to schedule an interview, please contact LCDR Kris Dellapina at 401-841-4378, ext. 136.]