I'll chime in only as to my particular background/expertise:
Gamble426 wrote:Secondly any advice or perspective into how you corporate lawyers view military service or any one who has been a JAG and is now a private lawyer I would love to hear your thoughts... any of you please give your thoughts especially those who are going through the jag program because I would love to talk more with you about the JAG program due to how hard it is to get specific information about it, for instance I have extensively researched jags for the past week and still have most of my original questions. For instance the post about interview horror stories. While i would never say dude....or want the job for an easy 9-5 I must admit im not sure exactly what a JAG does i have searched through the entire ARMY, NAVY, and AIr Force they all have extremely general descriptions that encompass virtually anything!
I am a litigator at a big, prestigious corporate law firm. I was a top graduate of a T10 school. I am currently in the application pipeline for Air Force and Navy. I speak only for myself--please assume that no man, woman, child, or agency supports my statements.
IMHO, it is much more common (albeit still very rare) to see BIGLAW-->JAG than JAG-->BIGLAW. Truth be told, the skillsets developed by the armed forces aren't needed by most biglaw firms ever; if they are, it is rarely and will be provided by the highest-levels of the firm. Associates with dozens of jury trials under their belt are rare, but that's not a problem: no bigfirm client wants someone with that little seniority calling the shots. When big money or corporate livelihood is on the line, they'll pay the marginal difference between your absurd rate (e.g. $550/hour like me) and the partner's (e.g. $1000/hour). And, I suspect, having associates with that much experience has lots of other negative effects, including lower morale for the particular associate in question (less meaningful work) and lower morale for other associates (your presence has a blinder-cancelling effect).
There might be smaller firms (perhaps even smaller, more nimble biglaw-esque firms) that see the comparative advantage in having some well-trained judge advocates on staff. But BIGLAW is not Moneyball. There is an almost overwhelming inertia that keeps firms doing things as they always have. BIGLAW recruiting is, by and large, a joke; 80% of the decision is made based on school and grades, 15% on a firm's preference of the big-3 extracurriculars, and 5% on a substanceless feel-you-out chat. Everyone knows this is inefficient, but the point isn't to find the best fit but rather to find suitable warm bodies. It's an open secret that no one cares to remedy. As such, all of the value inherent in JAG service specifically is likely to be overlooked.
It's rare to see the BIGLAW --> JAG route, but I know many more people in that boat. Why do we leave the plush, highly-sought after jobs? Because we want something better--more meaningful work, more substance, more responsibility, more connection to a mission. Perhaps this is the real reason that you don't see the JAG-->BIGLAW route: it's hard to explain why someone would start out in JAG and then move onto BIGLAW other than money. And that's not a very compelling interview pitch.
While I don't think you'll find many, if any, 4-and-out JAGs becoming midlevels at VAULT 100 firms, the situation could be right to bring in a more experienced (10+) JAG at the counsel/partner level if (1) the experience match was perfect, and (2) you can bring a book of business. But I'd say even considering that at this point is putting several carts before an overworked horse. It's overly simplistic, but the truth of the matter is this: you're at the stage of your life where you can't avoid closing some doors with the choices you make. You can't tell for sure which ones you'll be closing and which one's you'll be opening by taking a particular job--all you can do is determine if that job is one you want. If it is, great; if not, don't take it in an effort to climb some imaginary mental ladder.
As far as preparing for the interviewing process: don't sweat the small stuff. Be sincere and enthusiastic, have an honest, sincerely-held reason for wanting to join, and don't say anything false. It's much worse to say you want to do something JAGs don't do than to be a little opaque in responding. In other words, I wouldn't go in talking about mergers and acquisitions/ERISA/sports agency contracts, but stick to "trial experience," "international law," and other things that (1) you know JAGs do, and (2) you want to do with them. No one expects you to be fluent in all manner of internal bueracracy; just be conversant enough to understand how JAGs fit into the big picture and the types of law they practice. How you get assignments/the size of case teams/how you deal with unruly legalmen--these bits of the practice will come if and when they need to.
Good luck in whatever you chose to do.