JAG vs. Big Law

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
cantyoloforever
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:02 pm

JAG vs. Big Law

Postby cantyoloforever » Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:09 am

First, please don't crucify me for not having more specific career goals at this time. I know these two paths are very different from one another.

Question - how do I determine whether I should pursue JAG or Big Law, and when do I need to commit to one of these specific routes? For example, could I do a 1L SA in my home market (some firms have them where I'm from) and then do a 2L internship with Army JAG, and have both of my options still open?

I like the idea of doing JAG, but I wonder if I will enjoy the actual reality of it. I feel like my personal values would better align with something like JAG, and I could possibly (probably?) feel more fulfilled serving my country in this capacity. In addition, it sounds like I would get a tremendous amount of litigation experience very early on. However, I worry about exit options in case I am completely wrong and find that working for the military is a nightmare, which with my individualistic personality, I can see that being a strong possibility.

The other path I'm considering is big law in a major metro area (doesn't have to be New York, but 2 million plus in a warm area would be ideal). Other than the traditional worries of working in big law, it seems like less of a lifestyle risk as it seems one would have more freedom to do something else after their stint in big law....or am I completely wrong?

User avatar
Dcc617
Posts: 2128
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:01 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby Dcc617 » Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:37 am

cantyoloforever wrote:First, please don't crucify me for not having more specific career goals at this time. I know these two paths are very different from one another.

Question - how do I determine whether I should pursue JAG or Big Law, and when do I need to commit to one of these specific routes? For example, could I do a 1L SA in my home market (some firms have them where I'm from) and then do a 2L internship with Army JAG, and have both of my options still open?

I like the idea of doing JAG, but I wonder if I will enjoy the actual reality of it. I feel like my personal values would better align with something like JAG, and I could possibly (probably?) feel more fulfilled serving my country in this capacity. In addition, it sounds like I would get a tremendous amount of litigation experience very early on. However, I worry about exit options in case I am completely wrong and find that working for the military is a nightmare, which with my individualistic personality, I can see that being a strong possibility.

The other path I'm considering is big law in a major metro area (doesn't have to be New York, but 2 million plus in a warm area would be ideal). Other than the traditional worries of working in big law, it seems like less of a lifestyle risk as it seems one would have more freedom to do something else after their stint in big law....or am I completely wrong?


Do you know anything about serving? It is definitely not for everyone. And while some JAGs have cool jobs, most of the ones I knew just did boring low level dumb soldier stuff (drugs, DUI, etc).

If you want to do the military, then do it. But JAG is a pretty weak way to do it, and it could very well suck.

cantyoloforever
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:02 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby cantyoloforever » Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:51 am

Dcc617 wrote:
cantyoloforever wrote:First, please don't crucify me for not having more specific career goals at this time. I know these two paths are very different from one another.

Question - how do I determine whether I should pursue JAG or Big Law, and when do I need to commit to one of these specific routes? For example, could I do a 1L SA in my home market (some firms have them where I'm from) and then do a 2L internship with Army JAG, and have both of my options still open?

I like the idea of doing JAG, but I wonder if I will enjoy the actual reality of it. I feel like my personal values would better align with something like JAG, and I could possibly (probably?) feel more fulfilled serving my country in this capacity. In addition, it sounds like I would get a tremendous amount of litigation experience very early on. However, I worry about exit options in case I am completely wrong and find that working for the military is a nightmare, which with my individualistic personality, I can see that being a strong possibility.

The other path I'm considering is big law in a major metro area (doesn't have to be New York, but 2 million plus in a warm area would be ideal). Other than the traditional worries of working in big law, it seems like less of a lifestyle risk as it seems one would have more freedom to do something else after their stint in big law....or am I completely wrong?


Do you know anything about serving? It is definitely not for everyone. And while some JAGs have cool jobs, most of the ones I knew just did boring low level dumb soldier stuff (drugs, DUI, etc).

If you want to do the military, then do it. But JAG is a pretty weak way to do it, and it could very well suck.


I probably know very little about serving. What is the best way for someone to determine whether or not it's for them?

I'm attracted to JAG because it seemed like a marriage of what I want to do (be a lawyer) with a life experience I think (this is an important word) I'd like to have.

Edit - sorry ahead of time if my parenhiticals seem condescending. I'm anticipating that I'll get my ass rocked for this thread, so I'm preparing...

User avatar
laqueredup
Posts: 278
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 1:05 am

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby laqueredup » Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:02 am

Obviously they are very different careers. Coming from a non-Jag military type, The plusses of JAG:
- one of the few legal jobs straddling the bimodal salary distribution between 60k and biglaw
-get a wide variety of legal experiences in a wide variety of places (probably not of your choosing, and most likely never in a major metro area)
-Working hours might be better depending on where you wind up but it still won't be 9-5.
-More responsibility earlier, obviously you won't be working on billion dollar deals, but you will be helping a lot of soldiers with their day to day legal problems, which may be mundane (powers of attorney, wills, uncontested divorces,landlord/ tenant issues etc..) but really does help them.

cons
-no real control over where you live or what you do
-no ability to walk away if you hate it, you'll still have to finish your obligation
-exit options? I know nothing about this

User avatar
BlendedUnicorn
Posts: 7321
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:40 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby BlendedUnicorn » Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:07 am

It's a good faith and fair question. I mean if you just think being in the military would be a good overall experience and it's really something you'd want to do I would recommend either enlisting or going through OCS and doing a "real" military job. As an added bonus the GI Bill and/or FLEP or FLEP equivalents are pretty sweet options for going to law school down the road.

That's the best path, but I think maybe wanting to do JAG is understandable too. If you go to law school without prior service, the best way to see it in action is to gun hard for a JAG internship your 1L summer. You won't get the full military experience, but you'll at least get to talk to people who have gone down that path and see what their life is like. I have no idea how hard these jobs are to get but they do exist.

You'll have to decide what path you want to go down by OCI though. For planning purposes, you should view OCI-2L SA as the only viable path to big law.

AJordan
Posts: 348
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:48 am

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby AJordan » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:20 am

The best way to figure out if serving is for you is to enlist and be a private for awhile. If you can put up with all that BS for a few years and still want to be in the military then, by all means, go for it. The military is a profession of life and death and as someone in the middle of the enlisted side there really is nothing more discouraging than an officer who is only marking time for experience (mildly annoying) to openly hating his or her life choices (understandable from a private, infuriating from an officer).
The expectations placed on you are also pretty damn high. Officers can easily be given a stiff handshake and thanked for their service with no real reason beyond not making promotion cutoff for a few years. This pretty much means you need to be very good at your job, a PT stud, and free from any adverse actions. The pressures of big law are too anecdotally similar to be anything but real though I can't speak to it. I can speak to the military side of things. The pressures here are real too. This isn't a choice to be made flippantly.

edit: adverse vs averse.

User avatar
Dcc617
Posts: 2128
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:01 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby Dcc617 » Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:30 am

HuntedUnicorn wrote:It's a good faith and fair question. I mean if you just think being in the military would be a good overall experience and it's really something you'd want to do I would recommend either enlisting or going through OCS and doing a "real" military job. As an added bonus the GI Bill and/or FLEP or FLEP equivalents are pretty sweet options for going to law school down the road.

That's the best path, but I think maybe wanting to do JAG is understandable too. If you go to law school without prior service, the best way to see it in action is to gun hard for a JAG internship your 1L summer. You won't get the full military experience, but you'll at least get to talk to people who have gone down that path and see what their life is like. I have no idea how hard these jobs are to get but they do exist.

You'll have to decide what path you want to go down by OCI though. For planning purposes, you should view OCI-2L SA as the only viable path to big law.


Yeah, if you want to be in the military go be in the military. JAG is a half assed compromise.

But absolutely don't enlist. Life is much better for an officer. And being a private is super hard for smart people (at least from what I've seen from my old smart privates).

Also, don't do army. Do Air Force. Being in the army sucks.

User avatar
BlendedUnicorn
Posts: 7321
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:40 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby BlendedUnicorn » Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:33 am

Yeah in retrospect I would have gone officer if I could do it again I think even though my enlisted experience was pretty great.

One thing I didn't realize was how much more training the officers get than enlisted.

User avatar
brinicolec
Posts: 4452
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2016 7:09 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby brinicolec » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:47 pm

If I were you, I'd try to talk to some current JAGs, especially in the branch you're interested in. I'm not sure if they're hard to get in contact with. I'm a military brat and my dad's high-ranking so they're always more than willing to talk to me but I don't imagine they'd be impossible to get in contact with if you either email or call.

Also, I agree that JAGs don't usually get "sexy" work (and also, you don't really want to). A lot of weird drug stuff; a lot of dumb young enlisted people getting into bar fights or drinking and driving. Most of the time, serious offenses (such as rape, assault, etc) get deferred to local police and all of that (aka aren't being handled within the military) and the offender is kicked out of the service.

User avatar
BlendedUnicorn
Posts: 7321
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:40 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby BlendedUnicorn » Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:15 pm

My understanding is that the cool assignments start coming your way around the time you would make major and/or extend your contract (and only then if you're lucky). Have to be willing to do your time kicking privates out first.

cantyoloforever
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:02 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby cantyoloforever » Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:42 pm

Wow, lots of good advice! I'll respond with some more questions after I have some time to digest this

User avatar
twenty
Posts: 3181
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:17 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby twenty » Sat Feb 25, 2017 5:31 pm

A couple things (disclaimer: not Army JAG):

-Working hours might be better depending on where you wind up but it still won't be 9-5.


The "long hours" are a lot more predictable and a lot less stressful. You won't have some boomer partner hand you shit on a Friday afternoon he's been sitting on since Wednesday that absolutely must be done by Monday. You'll be working long hours because you have a motion to complete and you didn't have enough time to get it done during the day. That said, at least in my office, if you came in on a weekend, you got "credit hours" so you could take time off on a week day later on. So maybe you work all day on a Saturday preparing for a trial, but then once the trial's over, you have a day you can take off during the week.

-no ability to walk away if you hate it, you'll still have to finish your obligation


I think this is true of biglaw too, though, you're just locked in by financial obligations (read: loans) and the fact that you don't really have any exit ops until several years in. inb4 "but you can always just leave." True, but people are miserable in biglaw for some mysterious reason that's probably not at all related to loans/exit ops and nevertheless tend not to leave.

Also, I agree that JAGs don't usually get "sexy" work (and also, you don't really want to).


Maybe this is specific to my branch, but there was a lot of "sexy work" to go around with no one wanting to do it.

cantyoloforever
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:02 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby cantyoloforever » Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:06 pm

twenty wrote:
Maybe this is specific to my branch, but there was a lot of "sexy work" to go around with no one wanting to do it.

What constitutes "sexy work"?

cantyoloforever
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:02 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby cantyoloforever » Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:07 pm

Dcc617 wrote:
HuntedUnicorn wrote:It's a good faith and fair question. I mean if you just think being in the military would be a good overall experience and it's really something you'd want to do I would recommend either enlisting or going through OCS and doing a "real" military job. As an added bonus the GI Bill and/or FLEP or FLEP equivalents are pretty sweet options for going to law school down the road.

That's the best path, but I think maybe wanting to do JAG is understandable too. If you go to law school without prior service, the best way to see it in action is to gun hard for a JAG internship your 1L summer. You won't get the full military experience, but you'll at least get to talk to people who have gone down that path and see what their life is like. I have no idea how hard these jobs are to get but they do exist.

You'll have to decide what path you want to go down by OCI though. For planning purposes, you should view OCI-2L SA as the only viable path to big law.


Yeah, if you want to be in the military go be in the military. JAG is a half assed compromise.

But absolutely don't enlist. Life is much better for an officer. And being a private is super hard for smart people (at least from what I've seen from my old smart privates).

Also, don't do army. Do Air Force. Being in the army sucks.

Why does being in the army suck?

cantyoloforever
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:02 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby cantyoloforever » Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:08 pm

laqueredup wrote:Obviously they are very different careers. Coming from a non-Jag military type, The plusses of JAG:
- one of the few legal jobs straddling the bimodal salary distribution between 60k and biglaw
-get a wide variety of legal experiences in a wide variety of places (probably not of your choosing, and most likely never in a major metro area)
-Working hours might be better depending on where you wind up but it still won't be 9-5.
-More responsibility earlier, obviously you won't be working on billion dollar deals, but you will be helping a lot of soldiers with their day to day legal problems, which may be mundane (powers of attorney, wills, uncontested divorces,landlord/ tenant issues etc..) but really does help them.

cons
-no real control over where you live or what you do
-no ability to walk away if you hate it, you'll still have to finish your obligation
-exit options? I know nothing about this

The pros sound great, but those bottom two cons...that's my worry.

User avatar
zot1
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby zot1 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:30 pm

If you wanted to try them out, the correct order is JAG as a 1L and then try to secure an SA for 2L. The other way around will make it harder for you to get a BigLaw offer.

It's very important to know JAG and what branch. Each service provides different opportunities for you.

Are you in a relationship?

Are you in shape?

What kind of work environments do you enjoy?

What would you like to do on a day-to-day basis?

User avatar
twenty
Posts: 3181
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:17 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby twenty » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:41 am

cantyoloforever wrote:
twenty wrote:
Maybe this is specific to my branch, but there was a lot of "sexy work" to go around with no one wanting to do it.

What constitutes "sexy work"?


Operations mostly, but don't want to out-self too much.

AJordan
Posts: 348
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:48 am

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby AJordan » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:09 am

cantyoloforever wrote:
Dcc617 wrote:
HuntedUnicorn wrote:It's a good faith and fair question. I mean if you just think being in the military would be a good overall experience and it's really something you'd want to do I would recommend either enlisting or going through OCS and doing a "real" military job. As an added bonus the GI Bill and/or FLEP or FLEP equivalents are pretty sweet options for going to law school down the road.

That's the best path, but I think maybe wanting to do JAG is understandable too. If you go to law school without prior service, the best way to see it in action is to gun hard for a JAG internship your 1L summer. You won't get the full military experience, but you'll at least get to talk to people who have gone down that path and see what their life is like. I have no idea how hard these jobs are to get but they do exist.

You'll have to decide what path you want to go down by OCI though. For planning purposes, you should view OCI-2L SA as the only viable path to big law.


Yeah, if you want to be in the military go be in the military. JAG is a half assed compromise.

But absolutely don't enlist. Life is much better for an officer. And being a private is super hard for smart people (at least from what I've seen from my old smart privates).

Also, don't do army. Do Air Force. Being in the army sucks.

Why does being in the army suck?


There are many, many, many reasons but the ones that come to me off the top of my head (while I type this in my Army uniform) are duty assignments (hello Fort Freezing, New York, Forts Kool Ade Texas, Kentucky, and North Carolina, and Fort Kill Me California and Louisiana) quality of facilities, uptight work environment, and general level of intelligence of your coworkers. We also have a LOT of stupid rules/requirements. There is a special place in hell for every CIF worker I've ever encountered.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Army and likely would not leave for law school if my body wasn't breaking down on me. It's just common knowledge that being in the Army is undeniably worse than being in the Air Force.

User avatar
dannyswo
Posts: 3628
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2016 4:27 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby dannyswo » Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:19 pm

The Navy has better locations. JAG in Hawaii is a pretty good job.

User avatar
Dcc617
Posts: 2128
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:01 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby Dcc617 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:43 pm

dannyswo wrote:The Navy has better locations. JAG in Hawaii is a pretty good job.


As someone who has been stationed in Hawaii, I think that there is something in the water that makes soldiers go fucking crazy. JAGs there hated it.

cantyoloforever
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:02 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby cantyoloforever » Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:52 pm

AJordan wrote:
cantyoloforever wrote:
Dcc617 wrote:
HuntedUnicorn wrote:It's a good faith and fair question. I mean if you just think being in the military would be a good overall experience and it's really something you'd want to do I would recommend either enlisting or going through OCS and doing a "real" military job. As an added bonus the GI Bill and/or FLEP or FLEP equivalents are pretty sweet options for going to law school down the road.

That's the best path, but I think maybe wanting to do JAG is understandable too. If you go to law school without prior service, the best way to see it in action is to gun hard for a JAG internship your 1L summer. You won't get the full military experience, but you'll at least get to talk to people who have gone down that path and see what their life is like. I have no idea how hard these jobs are to get but they do exist.

You'll have to decide what path you want to go down by OCI though. For planning purposes, you should view OCI-2L SA as the only viable path to big law.


Yeah, if you want to be in the military go be in the military. JAG is a half assed compromise.

But absolutely don't enlist. Life is much better for an officer. And being a private is super hard for smart people (at least from what I've seen from my old smart privates).

Also, don't do army. Do Air Force. Being in the army sucks.

Why does being in the army suck?


There are many, many, many reasons but the ones that come to me off the top of my head (while I type this in my Army uniform) are duty assignments (hello Fort Freezing, New York, Forts Kool Ade Texas, Kentucky, and North Carolina, and Fort Kill Me California and Louisiana) quality of facilities, uptight work environment, and general level of intelligence of your coworkers. We also have a LOT of stupid rules/requirements. There is a special place in hell for every CIF worker I've ever encountered.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Army and likely would not leave for law school if my body wasn't breaking down on me. It's just common knowledge that being in the Army is undeniably worse than being in the Air Force.


As I do more research into this, I feel that JAG is probably not the best route for me to take.

cantyoloforever
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:02 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby cantyoloforever » Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:52 pm

Dcc617 wrote:
dannyswo wrote:The Navy has better locations. JAG in Hawaii is a pretty good job.


As someone who has been stationed in Hawaii, I think that there is something in the water that makes soldiers go fucking crazy. JAGs there hated it.

Isn't NAVY JAG like impossibly hard to land?

between3characters
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:29 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby between3characters » Wed Mar 29, 2017 6:39 am

cantyoloforever wrote:
Dcc617 wrote:
dannyswo wrote:The Navy has better locations. JAG in Hawaii is a pretty good job.


As someone who has been stationed in Hawaii, I think that there is something in the water that makes soldiers go fucking crazy. JAGs there hated it.

Isn't NAVY JAG like impossibly hard to land?


Yes, it's much easier to sea.

User avatar
grand inquisitor
Posts: 3711
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:21 am

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby grand inquisitor » Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:16 am

:lol:

User avatar
poptart123
Posts: 1105
Joined: Thu Jun 11, 2015 5:31 pm

Re: JAG vs. Big Law

Postby poptart123 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:58 am

between3characters wrote:
cantyoloforever wrote:
Dcc617 wrote:
dannyswo wrote:The Navy has better locations. JAG in Hawaii is a pretty good job.


As someone who has been stationed in Hawaii, I think that there is something in the water that makes soldiers go fucking crazy. JAGs there hated it.

Isn't NAVY JAG like impossibly hard to land?


Yes, it's much easier to sea.


lmfao




Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests