holajerin wrote:Hi everyone,
I know there's some information on this in the thread already, but I haven't seen the question posed quite this way yet (though I'm still working my way through the thread). I'm a 1L (very excited that will be doing the Navy JAG internship this summer!) and will need to make some decisions in the near future about what extracurriculars I want to pursue next year. Could any of the current/former JAGs give a rough rank-order of these options as to how positive they would look for OYCP/DAP applicants:
1. Mock trial
2. Moot court
3. Criminal defense clinic
4. Other type of clinic (like a refugee & asylum law clinic)
5. Primary journal
6. Secondary journal (on something like either criminal or immigration law)
7. In-semester JAG externship
8. In-semester other-organization externship (such as DOJ, DA's office, etc.)
9. Student organization leadership
10. Research assistant for professor
11. Judicial externship/clerkship
12. Various legal volunteer work (ex.: legal aid)
13. Various non-legal volunteer work (ex.: student mentoring)
14. Other ( ____ )
I do not have the energy to rack and stack this list but here are my thoughts. As always, limited to my AF JAG experience.
I've never thought the Student Bar Association (or whatever the law school govt body is called) really matters in any professional sense. I can see an argument that if you end up as President of a group of fellow "insecure overachievers with a bachelor of arts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=p ... 05HnXomG88
), that you have some leadership skills. That, or you were successful in spending SBA funds on open bar nights when you were SBA Treasurer or Vice President. Patrick Bateman's opinion when reviewing a JAG applicant's resume and reading SBA: "Meh."
"Meh" status also goes to being a research assistant for a professor. There may be exceptions to this, such if you help on a major publication and get some sort of footnote shoutout or if this professor has some influence (for example, Texas Tech Law seems to have a ton of retired JAG Colonels and GOs on their faculty). If this position helps the prof get to know you better and turns into a solid letter of rec, might be worth it as well.
I think moot court is a must. It is competitive selection based on writing ability and oral advocacy - JAG likes a winner, even better when it is a pain in the ass and is on based skills you will need throughout your entire career. This is an important consideration for new JAGs that will spend their first four years in the courtroom. For what it is worth, my interviewing SJA showed absolutely zero interest in my position as the managing editor (#2) of a secondary journal but was thrilled with my success on moot court.
See above for secondary journals. I cannot say one way or the other if legit law review status helps at all, at least for selection. If you are interested in working in your service's appellate law shop (senior Captain level position in the AF), law review might matter, but not really a consideration at the applicant level. That said, if JAX is monitoring this thread: Patrick Bateman, appellate government, summer of 2014.
Externship with a local JAG office can be huge, assuming you are a good fit and do a good job. For applicants to all programs (DAP, OYCP, etc), a major question is always "will this person make a good officer?" While law review and GPA might help show who will be the best attorney
in a BigLaw or Fed clerkship sense, the elements of a good officer applicant can be hard to identify. Spending time with JAGs who can then vouch for you on the intangibles that make a solid officer can go a long way.
Any time that gets you involved with the courtroom in terms of a clinic or externship will also help. As noted above, the Air Force is looking at people that want to litigate; anything you can demonstrate interest/experience will only help you. On the Fed side, there are a fair share of AUSAs that are reserve JAGs and reserve/former JAGs can be found throughout Main Justice, DoD Gen Counsel, and all the other three letter agencies. Not only will it be a valuable experience, but these folks will be good to know when applying. Working government, be it Fed/state/local, also helps demonstrate a commitment to public service vice chasing BigLaw money.
At the end of the day, something is always better than nothing. Volunteer, extern, and get yourself involved with a program that you have a passion for and will allow you to demonstrate your skills/talents. I am someone that loves the courtroom so I tend to project and focus on the criminal side of JAG. If you have the choice between a criminal defense clinic which you are not excited about but can also do something worthwhile with an environmental law program, and you just love environmental law, go for that. Both of my assignments at the base legal level had involvement with significant environmental law issues. The Air Force has an entire Field Support Center with like minded attorneys that practice just environmental law. If I were an SJA, I would recommend someone that pursued X Clinic/Program because they had a passion for it and did some great things as a law student versus the applicant that half halfheartedly took some crim clinic just to check the box.
As in all employment matters, know your potential employer - you'll notice my rambling advice above more or less turn on litigation and ability to serve as an officer. I would recommend looking into the following: Anything from Mauet for trial litigation; Armed Force Officer's Guide and the Air Force [or whatever lesser service] Officer's Guide for a Cliff's Notes look at the quasi-philosophical on serving with an officer's commission; One Bullet Away (Flick), Joker One (Campbell), Matterhorn (Marlantes), and House-to-House (Bellavia) for the infantry officer perspective on serving an officer (NCO for Bellavia, but still an absolutely incredible perspective on combat leadership in the Post 9/11 world). And before any of you with combat arms experience gets all antsy-in-your-pantsy: I am not comparing serving as a JAG to being an actual door kicker. That said, I think it is important for even staff officer types to understand the ultimate client we are serving and that post 9/11, not even us Chairborne Rangers are immune from some of the dangers in the AOR.
Looking back, probably would have been faster to rack and stack your list.