Gamble426 wrote:Thank you Tenacious,
I don't know if this changes any of your comments but I'm planning on going to a T15 school specifically UT although SMU was also in consideration. I'm also a very serious student and plan on doing what it takes to succeed. I was also planning on studying corporate law and contracts. I'm not really wanting to go the JAG route for experience so much as I am looking to serve and to be honest the financial benefits of having the rest of my Undergraduate paid for. I would love to pick your brain a little more on this subject. My take wasn't so much as what I could offer a law firm in terms of experience but rather the leadership and work ethic developed in the service. Im not sure if it still exists and forgive me people if I offend any one here but, it use to be that being an officer in the service was considered very honorable and prestigious as well as "classy". For instance forgive the analogy but take Animal Farm for instance or the Kennedy's these are examples of very well to do people in Service to become an officer. Anymore it doesn't seem like this concept exists. In the early days of our nation one of the only ways of becoming a gentlemen was service as officer and sometimes a classical education (Alexander Hamilton). My question to you Tenacious is are there senior partners from the older generations that would look at a candidate such as that and view these qualities and do you think if I were to go to a top 15 law school and maintain competitive grades they would then consider those factors alongside of my service. I know I'm asking a lot of you and I know that every situation and every firm differs but if you could give me the best answer as a corporate lawyer using your perception of the corporate world and the corporate law firm psyche I would be very grateful. After all I have spoken with these men who maintained low 3.0s and get into second teir law schools and then do marginal work and I assure you that I'm not this person.
No problem. I've mooched so much good, free advice on this and related forums that it's a moral obligation to devote some time here. Unfortunately, though, I just don't think you're going to get the answer you want.
Caveat: YMMV here and in any other area where there are so many potential interviewers, employers, and skewed preferences. I'm simply basing my answers on personal experience, discussions with other relevant actors, and unscientific data collection.
That said, I think there's a fundamental disconnect between your goals and most JAG applicant goals: namely, you want to be a corporate lawyer. That's a perfectly respectable goal, shared by many (many!) on this Board writ large. It's the primary goal of many people on other boards as well (e.g. xoxohth, other prestige-focused sites) But it's not shared by many, if any, on this particular thread.
You are right to notice that JAG service will not overcome a school prestige/transcript deficiency: if [Insert top VAULT firm here] only takes top 10/top 15%, you could become the most decorated veteran in history, cure AIDS, and win American Idol and you'd still have a less than 1% chance of landing a gig. And I will assume, however naively, that there are quite a few people (including bigfirm partners) who do commend and respect the service and sacrifice of our armed forces servicemembers, and further recognize that they are disciplined, well-trained individuals. However, it's not school/grade or military value that makes me think your quest is Quixotic: it's that at the time you'd want to transfer from JAG to BIGLAW, you'd bring nothing relevant to the table and would likely do more damage to morale than you'd raise it. Who cares if you're a good leader if you aren't as similarly experienced as other midlevel associates? No client wants to pay $500/hr for you to read a treatise on whatever subject (and believe me, there is a treatise on every subject) just to become conversant enough to have the initial conversation with the partner (and mabye client) before delving into research or beginning to draft a document. To oversimplify, in JAG you'll learn how to use a hammer and screwdriver, but BIGLAW needs people proficient in fairway irons. The skillsets just aren't the same and by the time you're a midlevel, they aren't willing to pay you to learn on the job.
If you want to do the corporate law thing, there are innumerable places to learn more. You've already learned the basics: go to a kick-ass school, study forever, and hope that you're on the right side of the curve. If you play your cards right and have a few bounces go your way, you can find yourself with a huge salary out of law school that will cover those educational expenses. It's not guaranteed--you can see in the news all the tales of "but I thought this was a golden ticket"--where people overpaid for school and are stuck with templaw or shitlaw jobs and gobs of debt. But it is doable.
The JAG route, however, is just so different, so far outside the normal recruiting norm, and so far outside what clients want, that in a reserved, hierarchical, tradition-bound, and inefficient system like BIGLAW, I don't see a transfer as likely, and strongly suggest you not bank on it. Anything's possible, but I think it's foolish to think BIGLAW will be waiting when you go IRR. Best of luck.