Anonymous User wrote:So I am having a bit of a conundrum. I'm at somewhat of a crossroads, and I am not sure which direction to go. Maybe someone here may have a perspective that I have not already considered.
Here is the situation. I was selected for Jag as a 2L, I won't say which branch for anonymity. I went through MEPS, and I accepted a commission. I'm currently a 3L. Another job opportunity has come up, through a family connection. It is with in house counsel of a national insurance company. Starting salary for the first year is approximately $100,000 with benefits, including relocation expenses, and some loan repayment. After the first year the pay rises to approximately 180,000. The most senior attorney in the office makes around $500,000 a year. So the pay ceiling is substantial.
Under normal circumstances I would not consider leaving Jag. But the pay with this job is so much it is hard not to consider pursuing it. The cons of the job are that the location is not optimal, it is in a colder less desirable part of the country. Also the job is in insurance law, and I am told there will be little courtroom exposure for some time. It is mostly research and assuring compliance with insurance regulation.
The primary pro is certainly the money. I'm not exactly in love with the idea of being a trial lawyer, so research doesn't scare me. The rise in pay offsets the loans that I could possibly get paid under PSLF. My student loans are substantial, around $160,000.
This decision will majorly effect not only my future, but my families. The ramifications could be enormous and I am not sure what to do. I've wanted Jag since I started law school. I love the military, although I was already in active service before law school. So I've done my time so to speak. I wouldn't feel bad about not doing more time.
(1) can I even get out of Jag at this point? I'm a 3L. What would that process look like?
(2) What would you do? What things in this equation would you consider?
I can't answer the first question - it is also pretty branch specific so I don't think anyone will be able to unless you want to disclose it.
As to the second, the differences between the two paths are so stark that you really need to evaluate what you actually want with your career in life. Prior service is a plus as you at least know what you would be going into if you stick on the officer path.
The money is always tempting. I struggled this in a sense when I went Reserves between a Fed job or at a big DC law firm. That said, with friends making a lot more than me in the BigLaw and BigFinance worlds, there are a lot of ways to be miserable in that life and not enjoy that money. There are also plenty of folks that find some sort of balance and make it work. For me, it was a lot of variables - ability to continue as a reservist, work/life balance, and the type of work I would be doing -- defending greedy/corrupt rich white collar types did not exactly get me excited. At the same time, I have friends that separated and jumped to Vault 100 firms and have been very successful. All depends on what makes you tick and what you decide to prioritize
As you likely already know, military life is not without its issues. You'll be moving, not have as much control over your career path, etc. You will also eventually have to cross the civilian employment bridge at some point, be it at separation or retirement. There have been plenty of discussions on this thread about what comes after JAG - some folks transition seamlessly thanks to their experience and specialization while in uniform. Other people really struggle. Job security is also something to consider. Obviously in the private sector you are at will. That said, at least in the Air Force, the JAG Corps of decades past where if you were more or less set for O-5 if you checked the boxes is gone. The Air Force force shaped tons of JAGs last year only to find they were now (predictably) critically undermanned; they are now inviting reservists and separated folks to come back into active duty in a ridiculous attempt to stem the bleeding.
Create a venn diagram or a pro/con list and see where you come out. When you are making a major purchase like a car, you may have 6 things you really want (new model, brand name, safety, bells/whistles, etc) - for most of us, we will end up having to settle for only getting 3-4 of those. You can get the BMW, but it will have to be an entry level certified pre-owned, or you can get the new Toyota fully loaded. Same sort of deciding what is more important needs to be done with you and your family.