Undead_Ed wrote:hammer007 wrote:I'm trying to gauge my chances of being picked up by the Army or Air Force, and if anyone has any insight on the selection process, I would really appreciate some input. I don't really know what factors these services consider to be the most important. I am ranked third in my class at a lower tier 2 school with law review. I didn't do moot court, and I have only a couple extracurriculars in law school, though significantly more in undergrad. Perhaps this makes me competitive at law firms (in a normal environment), but I don't know if any of this has any bearing on JAG board decisions. I would appreciate any insight from those who have it. Thank you.
If you read through this forum, a daunting task at 40 pages, you will read a few hundred people make their guesses about what the various services are looking for. It really is hard to say. The input you will get is either from those selected or from those who were not selected. Neither can tell you anything definitive, but maybe they can tell you their stats. If you are interested in opinion, I believe the services are interested in a lot of those things that firms are interested in:
First, they expect that you will be a scholar. This will included a respectable class rank, good grades, and possibly a decent school. It should also include some of the scholarly work you have done, like law review.
Second, the services will expect you to be an athlete. It isn't enough to get in shape if you get the job. They are going to want to see that this is already something that you are motivated to do. Any team sports or athletic competitions should help you here.
Finally, they expect you to be a leader. Your community leadership, former military experience, special training, management positions, and so forth will help you here. Moot court or trial experience should also help to show leadership.
Possessing these three qualities should show that you are a well rounded person, which is the overall thing that the services are seeking. The trouble is that in this economy, there are a lot of people with great qualifications seeking work and/or job security. It is going to ratchet up the threshold you will have to meet on each of these factors. It may take you a few selection boards to get selected. If you are lucky, you can get in with just one. If it is really worth it to you, you will keep applying. After all, there are 1700 Army lawyers (for example) why shouldn't one of them be you?
But I also think many are surprised by the fact that getting into the military as a lawyer is actually pretty difficult. I think this is very different than getting into the military as a doctor--if you have a heartbeat and an MD, you're golden.
Ed, for a JAG applicant, you really like to sound like you are an authority on this stuff. I get that you have applied to the various branches but your substantive posts typically range from generally true to conjecture.
Categorical assertions that you have to be a leading scholar athlete are just lazy. Absolutely none of us, even those of us that are active duty Judge Advocates, have a real bead on what selection is based on. I know you prefaced this whole thing as your "opinion" but it is borderline misleading.
Do a lot of JAGs have a solid academic background? Yes. Were most on law review? Probably not. Did most publish "scholarly" things? No.
Are JAGs expected to be athletes? No. We are expected to be athletic, in the sense that we have to meet our service's PT standards. Some JAGs are PT studs, others get by. I'm certain I am the only JAG in my fairly large office that was a collegiate athlete. Team sports or athletic competitions? Seriously?
Leadership is a pretty fuzzy concept. Your leadership sounds a lot like work experience. I also struggle to equate moot court or trial team as leadership exercises.
"Well rounded person" is the only truly accurate take away from your post. The boards consider a wide variety of things when it comes to selection, none of which are widely known. You also left out the SJA interview, which is hands down the most important element of an applicant's package.
Hammer, as a JAG that has experience with our recruiting: solid grades are an important aspect of your application package. Moot court/trial team are also helpful to demonstrate interest/aptitude in oral advocacy. A part of me wants to recommend some public service during your law school summers (Fed, State, etc) but I can think of a number of exceptions to that recommendation. Beyond that, most of us in uniform have incredibly varied backgrounds. Some are prior military, both officer and enlisted. Others worked after college or after law school. Some JAGs went straight through law school from college and have never had a real full time job until the military. Some spent their law school summers at private law firms, others in the public sector. Some graduated T14, others T4. Some with honors, some without. My best advice is to excel and pursue what most interests you in law school.