Anonymous User wrote:I've been accepted into the Navy and Army JAG and wrapping up my documents for both (still undecided).
My long-term goals are to (1) be overseas (2) be in the courtroom (3) to eventually transition into a State Dept/DOJ Overseas Attache (ideally).
Can anyone give me some insight? I've talked to ex-JAGs of both services, but I get kind of wishy-washy answers. My main concern is Navy's two-year rotation where there's a lot of hand holding and taking it slow (maybe that's good). I haven't read anything like that for the Army (possible and probable). Anyway, if there's any anecdotal advice anyone can provide, it'd be much appreciated. I'm leaning Army right now for no real articulable reason.
I'm an ex-Army officer (not JAG) now going Navy JAG, so I have some sense of this, but take it with a grain of salt.
1) What do you mean by overseas? You want to deploy? If so, go Army. The opportunities to deploy are much more plentiful, and it's more a part of the Army's culture. Officers in the Army without a combat patch definitely have a credibility problem past a certain point. 2) I think the Navy probably gives you more opportunities to litigate, since a not of non-litigation stuff is handled by DoN civilians. But the Navy is also much smaller, so YMMV. As for 3) I have no idea.
I am going to have to respectfully disagree. I am a current Navy jag on active duty.
I am going to be completely honest with you, I wont try to sell you a pack of lies to make my job/service seem awesome, or to recruit you... the Navy is not a good place to be an attorney if you expect to professionally develop yourself, and become a better lawyer. The attorneys that stay in the Navy Jag Corps long term are shit attorney's; they aren't good litigators, their legal writing is garbage, and they become farther and farther removed from the real world law, and become wrapped up and engulfed in military bureaucracy, aka idiocy.
The two year FTJA program is a joke. The Navy is NOT the place to be to become a litigator or get any semblance of litigation experience; this is a lie that continues to be propagated . . . some how, and honestly the how is beyond me. The two year mandatory "internship" PROHIBITS me from getting into the courtroom but only one time for a small plea, which is essentially a five minute argument on sentencing, and MAYBE second chair ONCE on a super shitty misdemeanor level trial for something stupid like a marijuana pop or something. That puts me a FULL TWO years behind all of my other law school peers. After that two years I am basically starting at square one. I personally know attorneys who have been in the Jag Corps over a decade and have one or two super small trials, if that, and no motion writing/litigation experience. By the way, they don't make exceptions for exceptional lawyers either, with some rare exception for attorneys who practiced before the jag corps.
Aside from this two year courtroom moratorium, the case volume in the jag corps is super low, with low level stuff. I'm talking mostly low level domestic violence, shit sexual assaults, and a lot of special court martial drug pops. All of the good stuff the state takes, or the AUSA takes it, we get the scraps. The other jag corps positions are shit too. You're either doing wills all day for retirees, or helping some stupid E2 with a 40K Beamer he can't afford, or dealing with petty command bull shit at the SJA's office, like fund raising requests, DUI's etc. .
The ONLY thing good about my job is my pay is pretty good, and the benefits are good. I out earn most of my law school colleagues, for now. In about 10 years they will all surpass me. Additionally I get tax benefits, and I hardly work at all. Even the attorneys who have been in for years and years have these shit cases, so what do you think gets assigned to the people with five years or less? Even shittier cases, low level simple menial crap. The benefit of which is that I burn through my "work" super fast and I get A LOT of off time. So "work" life balance is awesome.
Good pay and hardly any real work to do is great in the short term, but like I said, I am not getting better as an attorney, and in the long run I will be far behind my peers professionally. I never thought professional development would be a gripe of mine, who the hell complains to get paid and sit around doing nothing?; but I am literally wasting my degree, talent, and intelligence on this organization, for nothing. Once I get out and get a real job I am going to be LOST; worse off even than a brand new lawyer because at least for them the black letter law will be fresh in their heads from the bar.
My advice, steer clear of the Navy Jag Corps for now. We seem to be going through a transition period right now with this FTJA program, and we will be in a world of trouble for about the next decade until whatever dumb ass who implemented it is retired, so that we can be free to also retire this stupid plan. I can't speak for the other branches, although I know Marines get real experience right out of the gate still, and the coast guard does too.
You've been warned.