JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

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Aeneas
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JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Aeneas » Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:00 am

Okay, so I've done TONS of research (you'd be really surprised how incredibly hard it is to find solid information about the JAG corps, and I take the stuff on their websites with a grain of salt), and I pretty much think that doing Navy JAG after law school for the 4 year officer stint seems really cool. Being 29 years old, a T16 law graduate, and a US Officer is just plain cool.

Basically, the best way to do JAG is to sign up right after your first full year of law school. If they accept your application, you get commissioned as an Ensign Officer rank in the navy reserves, and you pretty much know that when you graduate, you will have a $60-70K a year law job with great benefits, and the prestige of being an officer and serving your country (if you're into that kind of thing). Oh yeah, when you do pass the bar, you basically move up to Lieutenant rank (that would be a Captain in the army, marines, or air force). So when you finish the whole 4 years, you would have served it all as a Lieutenant.

The thing is, I don't want to hurt my exit options after JAG (if I do it). The question is, if you graduate from a T16 school, will it really hurt your chances of getting law firm work if you did JAG and lost 4 years or whatever with your peer group? I know that you give up all the sweet offers and options you might get DURING law school, but T16 is still T16, right? You still come back and have an amazing school on your resume. Why should you have to be pigeonholed into anything? I understand if you don't go to a great law school, but if you do, then it seems to me that heck, you should be able to do JAG for a few years and come back and still land a firm job that makes $120K or 140 or whatever (again, assuming you do pretty well at a T16).

Does anybody have some real insight into this? I'm excited about this, but honestly without some real guidance, I'd be pretty scared to make a terrible mistake. I do eventually want to make tons of money working in a firm or starting my own, but would JAG seriously hurt me even if I finish at a top school?

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Aeneas
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Aeneas » Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:15 am

Dudez I lik totaly got da smilee fase avatar so u guyz wud feel mor comfurtable talking 2 me! lolz :( :) !&# anD no bodi iz answerving me i am sadd :( :(


No takers huh? It's JAG, right? There's got to be other people interested in this! :)

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SJaxWarriors
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby SJaxWarriors » Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:45 am

I would also appreciate further information. Thanks in advance to any TLS'ers with military backgrounds or knowledge!

Katdaddy
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Katdaddy » Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:10 am

Now this purley anecdotal, but I think having a JAG background will help you, mainly because somebody else has trained you on how to practice law. The only hurdle that you'll face is when you leave a JAG post to become a civilian attorney is WHY? Everyone has to answer this question when they are applying to a firm.

The fact that you attended a T16 carries more weight when you're a recent law school grad than when you're an experienced attorney who has proven that they know how to utilize thier degree.

Good luck!

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Haribo
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Haribo » Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:17 am

Make sure that you really think long and hard about whether JAG is what you actually want to do. While military service has many benefits, it definitely isn't right for everyone and the commitment you incur can make your life pretty miserable.

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Aeneas
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Aeneas » Tue Feb 19, 2008 3:27 am

malena wrote:Make sure that you really think long and hard about whether JAG is what you actually want to do. While military service has many benefits, it definitely isn't right for everyone and the commitment you incur can make your life pretty miserable.


I would really appreciate it if you could elaborate. I've read, so far anyhow, that JAG officers rarely seem to complain about their jobs. But I'm definitely interested in the other side of the story. Why do you think the commitment can make your life miserable?

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kevsocko
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby kevsocko » Tue Feb 19, 2008 3:58 am

they make you do push ups and shit

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Aeneas
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Aeneas » Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:30 pm

Can anyone else offer some real insight into this topic? It would really help my life! Thanks :)

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Haribo
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Haribo » Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:32 pm

I wasn't a JAG or anything, but I was in the military - I was pretty miserable not having control over my life (like where to life, what job to do, etc.) Because you sign up to a commitment, if you realize you aren't happy, you're basically stuck there for four years getting older. I didn't have any problems with the military in general, but I was unhappy with my job and co-workers and there was basically nothing I could do about it (although I did get lucky and was able to separate early.)

Katdaddy
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Katdaddy » Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:05 pm

Aeneas wrote:Can anyone else offer some real insight into this topic? It would really help my life! Thanks :)


Have you talked to a "real" JAG or a "real" JAG recruiter? If your seriously thinking about becoming a JAG, I wouldn't base my decision on hearsay.

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frumpter
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby frumpter » Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:47 pm

Aeneas -

I too am considering going Navy JAG after law school. My situation may be a little different, though, as I have some experience with the military. My husband is a Marine Corps officer and I attended a military academy for 2 years, so I know what the military is all about. That being said, I think it is a wonderful option after law school and am very excited about the prospect of it. Here is the website that I have found most helpful:

--LinkRemoved--

I haven't read about becoming an ensign after 1L. Through my research I found that you apply during 3L. They take about 70 people a year. If you get selected you will attend a 5 week basic officer course in Newport, RI. You come out a LTJG (O-2) in the Navy. After the 5 weeks in RI you go to JAG school in Virginia for a 10 week course on the UCMJ. You are then assigned to your first duty station as a JAG. After 6 months you are promoted to full LT (O-3). You owe the Navy 4 years. There is a lot of helpful info on the website. I highly recommend calling them and speaking to someone about any specific question you may have. Good luck!!!

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Patrick Bateman
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Patrick Bateman » Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:32 pm

I'm a 3L at a T25. I was accepted by the the Air Force JAG DAP board back in the fall and will be going active duty once I pass the bar. I spent my past summer as a civilian law clerk at Wright-Patt AFB as well.

I know the OP was looking for Navy JAG info, but I'm happy to answer JAG questions to the best of my ability. Though my knowledge is primarily AF, I've done a lot of research into the Army and Navy as well.

Dania
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Dania » Tue Feb 19, 2008 10:48 pm

I met a professor from Stetson Law who was a JAG officer at a seminar for CLEO. He was very approachable. Here is his info: http://www.law.stetson.edu/faculty/jones.asp

ender04
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby ender04 » Tue Feb 19, 2008 11:10 pm

My father was in the JAG corps for about a decade (in the Air Force). He got out in the early '90's, so I couldn't really tell you much about how to get admitted or even how easy it is to transition to a top firm. I do know a little about quality of life issues, though.

I would say that, from how my dad talks, he really enjoyed his time as a JAG. He got to do defense work and prosecution work, plus the military paid for his LLM. The assignments sound pretty interesting, particularly given that you're given a lot of authority really quickly in the military. He is a pretty restless spirit, so the fact that assignments were only for 2 year stints was very positive for him. He didn't like this aspect of his job so much after he had kids, which is part of the reason he got out.

The other reason that he got out was that the military mainly panders to suck-ups. Your bosses will generally be pains in your ass, and the way to get ahead is to have your wife through Officer's Wives Parties and to work for a general doing general secretarial stuff. In fact, in some cases, you do stuff that's lower than secretarial level, like changing lightbulbs. So, it's not such a great career, and the fact is that you'll probably be considerably more qualified than people who rank above you. I'm sure that this generalization is not entirely fair - that is, I'm sure that our military has some fairly well-qualified people. However, my impression is that these folks are few and far between.

The other thing that I'd keep in mind, though, is that my impression is that, regardless of your specialty, right now if you serve you may well end up in Iraq, and you have absolutely, totally no control over going. Of course, I don't know for sure if there are that many lawyers sent to Iraq, but it's something to look into if that doesn't sound appealing to you.

Good luck on making your decision. Clearly, serving your country is a great thing to do. But, it is a sacrifice.

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Corsair
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Corsair » Tue Feb 19, 2008 11:44 pm

..

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SJaxWarriors
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby SJaxWarriors » Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:37 am

Thanks for all the help everyone! :D The Navy JAG website was especially helpful.

ender04
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby ender04 » Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:29 am

Nothing personal, but I don't care what a pilot's LSAT score was. I also don't care whether or not a general running military operations knows what promissory estoppel is. The people out ranking the lawyers are generally qualified to do very different jobs than the lawyers.


Sorry for not being too clear, but I meant the people within the JAG corps itself. Right, obviously you wouldn't want the top brass of any military branch to be composed of lawyers. But, even within the JAG corps the promotion scheme is pretty similar to any other corps within the service, and that means sucking up big time for promotions... I don't know, maybe the civilian world is like this too. But, I don't know of too many other career paths where you're essentially instructed to organize social events.

CaptainDirtyBird
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby CaptainDirtyBird » Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:44 am

Ender is not only the savior of our race and the destroyer of another, he is also right. Interpersonal factors have more to do with military assignments and promotions than they would in a civillian environment. Think of it this way: In a law firm, if you fuck up as an attorney, your costing the partners money. In the military, some E-4 fuckup is just going to spend a little longer in the brig or get courtmartialed. You have to produce in an open market and your free to leave if you don't like the job your at; the military has a wonderfull 4 year lock in rate where your essentially SOL if you are unhappy with your job. Not that you shouldn't do JAG...just recognize that it is four years...you workload will be instantaneous (which with all the trial work handed out, i find appealing)...and that you have selected to suspend your personal ethics and ability to make rational decisions until your time is done.

Eremite
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Eremite » Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:47 am

Nevermind.

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Haribo
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Haribo » Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:25 am

I just wanted to add that a lot of people are really happy in the military. The retirement package is second to none (being able to do whatever you want without worries after 20 years, guaranteed, is amazing) and the benefits you get are far better than at a normal job. My official salary close to doubled once I got out of the Air Force, but the total take-home money I'm making now is probably about the same. A lot of people really enjoy the opportunity to move different places, and as a JAG officer you can get stationed overseas or deploy if you want to. The work you get to do is extremely hands-on, and there are some very cool opportunities. You usually will be involved in prosecution of cases pretty much immediately, and of course you can get assigned (although I don't think as a first assignment) to be a base defender. Also, the work you can do while deployed, from everything I've heard, is very interesting: making sure targets are legally assigned, being a liaison with the local government etc etc. I don't know much about the Navy JAG corps though.

In the AF, the JAG corps is in a different officer pool for promotions. This can be frustrating, I think, as the mid-high level promotion opportunities aren't as great, but that really only matters if you want to make it a career. Promotion in the military is a total bitch, but I think that can be pretty much the case everywhere. Sometimes the assignment that will get you promoted faster is exactly the opposite of the assignment that will make you a better lawyer. For me personally, having no control over where I ended up and not being able to do the things, career-wise, that I was really interested in was a deal-breaker with the military. (For example, I'm taking a year off to travel and then getting my law degree; neither would be possible if I hadn't separated early from the military. Also, as a female, it's much harder to maintain long-term relationships when the military is always moving you from one location to another. Of the five females I commissioned with, 3 are out early and 1 will be separating soon at least partly due to these reasons. If you're a guy this might not be as important to you, but being in the military is still definitely hard on family life.)

Anyways, I know you aren't asking about whether you SHOULD join the JAG but whether you CAN, and I don't know that question beyond your school rank won't be a detriment. Make sure you get the best grades you possibly can, of course - maybe talk to a JAG recruiting officer now to see what else would be expected.

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Aeneas
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Aeneas » Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:46 pm

I am really enjoying reading all these posts, thanks everyone;

You know, I guess I think it would be a sweet opportunity, I'm just afraid of either being stuck for 4 years doing really boring, pointless work, or being done after 4 years and being unable to find a job.

That's why I'm hoping graduating from a good school would pretty much make the job thing nill; I would probably be able to find a six figure salary in any market. As for the lifestyle, from what I've read so far being a JAG doesn't sound boring at all, but I'm rather wary of getting screwed by the military after I've signed up thing.

I mean, for only 4 years, promotions and politics wouldn't really matter to me, since I wouldn't make it a career at all. I think I would do it out of a motivation to serve the country, gain experience in law and life, along with prestige, and also a desire to prove to myself that money isn't what will drive the focus of my life (although I do hope to make a lot of it someday).

I guess I have a little time to decide, but it's tough to make these kinds of choices, especially when I keep remembering the fact that over 4 years of service I would have potentially sacrificed 200,000 or more in firm salary.

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Patrick Bateman
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Patrick Bateman » Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:38 pm

I think Exit Options are all conditional on what exactly you want to do. I had the opportunity to sit down with the 1st Assistant US Atty for NDIL (Chicago) and he could not say enough good things about the JAG Corps as the foundation for a career. He said several times that former Judge Advocates are of the biggest pools they draw from due to the massive trial experience gained.

That said, I would be surprised if a lot of the Vault 100 type firms would be that excited. While there is a lot of hands-on work out of the gate, it does not appear to be incredibly sophisticated. I think if you were looking to do corporate securities work, M&A, complex litigation, etc. I could see 4 years with JAG as a pretty big drawback.

Malena also raises a great (and often overlooked) point. JAGs do not get a massive salary on paper, but the take-home pay is deceptively large. You are only paying taxes on the $34K-$40K that you make as an 0-2/0-3. The $14,000-$20,000 that comes in under BAH/BAS allowances are not reported on the W2 and totally tax free. Some states (Fla for example) exempt military from paying state taxes as well. Combine that with super low car insurance rates, NO health insurance costs, no gym costs, commissary privileges, lower clothing costs (no need own corporate attire) etc, and it's a nice chunk of change. It is even more attractive if your law school offers an LRAP program which takes the string out the loan payments.

If you are making market at a law firm, $160K + bonus, you are probably getting close to paying nearly half of that to the government. Also figure that you are billing at least 2000-2200 hours to get that $95K of take home and will have a higher cost of living.

You'll never get rich in the military, but it is easy to be comfortable as an officer.

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Corsair
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Corsair » Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:19 pm

..

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Aeneas
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby Aeneas » Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:08 am

Ok, so from listening to you all I understand this:

If you go to a top school and do JAG for 4 years (I wouldn't do more), you will most definitely have a very good (or at least "good") job afterwards, probably working for the government or doing litigation at a firm, since you have tons of litigation experience. Which all means that a six figure salary after JAG is definitely not out of the question, and obviously if you work hard, who knows, you might make tons of money far into the future. This may not be the case if you didn't go to a top law school, but having a top name seems to have staying power (correct me if I'm wrong).

Furthermore, you are extremely marketable pretty much anywhere that does litigation or courtroom work of any kind, mostly. But you aren't really very marketable to huge corporate firms that pay the gi-normous $$$.


So the question then is this:

Let's say that after JAG, you DO want to go into corporate law rather than litigation stuff, or whatever. Just because you aren't marketable doesn't mean they won't hire you, right? I mean, would they really rather have a new law school graduate than a T16 grad with 4 years of solid experience, regardless of what kind of experience it was? I mean, assuming that you didn't ask for $200K or anything, why would they refuse to hire you and let you start from the bottom of the food chain if you want to? Just because a JAG doesn't have corporate experience doesn't mean he can't learn it, just as well if not more-so than a recent law grad. I'd be willing to start at the bottom of the food chain with $120K or whatever it is they pay, it's not like I'd ask for anything special just because I did JAG. It seems foolish to me if they would NOT want me as a fresh associate if I'm willing to do that.

Am I totally wrong or what?

lindseyl
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Re: JAG Exit Options if you went to a T16 school?

Postby lindseyl » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:52 am

Aeneas,

I don't know much about Navy JAG, but for Air Force, there is pretty much a guarantee that JAGs will be deployed within their first two years of service. You may want to check on that. Remember you are joining the military, not just getting a job as an attorney. There's multiple PTs per week, physical requirements, and many other military things to think about. I would definitely meet with actual Navy JAGs and talk to them about what you should expect. Think about your four years in...not just on what you will do when you get out. You would be doing your country a dis-service if you didn't do your job whole-heartedly.




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