Big Law / Army Reserve JAG Corps

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GULaw2019

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Big Law / Army Reserve JAG Corps

Post by GULaw2019 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 10:12 pm

So this question has been asked before in a couple variations, but I’m finishing up a clerkship now and am about to start a big law job. But all that good stuff aside, I’ve always wanted to incorporate some sort of military service in my career (notwithstanding my resume so far). Applying to the Army Reserve JAG Corps seems like it could be a great way to do that, but I’m torn because I’m not sure if that’s remotely feasible to balance against a civilian career in litigation for the next few years (setting aside the obvious fact that I’d have to apply and be accepted in the first place).

So, TLDR: what would balancing an Army Reserve JAG commitment against a big law career look like? I’m not really at the point in the process where I’m comfortable talking to a recruiter or anyone at my firm yet, so I’m grateful for any advice I can get.

legalnovice

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Re: Big Law / Army Reserve JAG Corps

Post by legalnovice » Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:27 pm

Just bumping this up to see if anyone has a take. Also interested in Army JAG/Biglaw like OP.

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Re: Big Law / Army Reserve JAG Corps

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:17 am

I'm at a DC big law firm and I can only speak to my experience. First disclaimer is that I'm a reserve JAG in a different branch, so I can't speak to the Army specifically. The second disclaimer is that I served as an active duty JAG for four(ish) years before resigning to accept my firm offer. I would imagine you would have to get your firm to agree to let you leave to go do your entry training (6 weeks?) and then 10 weeks in C-Ville at the JAG school.

Having said that, the arrangement that I have with my firm is that they have reduced my annual 2,000 hour requirement to 1,900 hours to be fully bonus eligible to allow for me to complete my annual reserve obligations. They also reduce my bonus by 5% to adjust for the lower billable requirements. However, if I bill over 2,000 hours, then my 5% reduction doesn't apply. I have several partners at my firm that are prior service, so I always make sure to let them know what I am doing on the military side of things. The firm overall seems to be very supportive because it is good PR for them. This may be easier to do in DC than other markets, but I would assume almost every firm has a prior service partner that would have your back.

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Re: Big Law / Army Reserve JAG Corps

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 04, 2020 1:32 pm

I'm a mid-level at a biglaw firm, and have been a JAG in the Army Reserve for about a year now. The biggest hurdle is taking time off for initial training (4ish months), but my firm was pretty supportive. The Reserve JAG units (called "LODs") are pretty flexible, I have found, in terms of allowing you to reschedule drill here and there if something huge comes up at work, and my firm has also been pretty flexible in terms of not bothering me on drill weekends (it helps to be on big teams with a lot of associates who can cover for you). Its definitely doable, at least if you don't care about making partner (I assume that as I get more senior, and if/when I deploy/mobilize, the firm will get more and more annoyed with my military commitment, but I predict that I will only stick around for 2-3 more years).

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Re: Big Law / Army Reserve JAG Corps

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:28 pm

Can anyone speak to the difference between JAG in the reserves and National Guard? Incoming associate at a V10’s non-NY office wondering if one is more feasible than the other.

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Re: Big Law / Army Reserve JAG Corps

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:06 pm

I was active duty Navy for almost 10 years and did the reserves (not JAG) for 1.5 years during law school--I stopped because it was very difficult to balance school performance with 1 weekend a month, 2 weeks a year (and a mobilization within 5 years).

I'm now a corporate associate at a v10 and do not think it would work if you intend to have a run at partnership (or wanted any free time at all). The 2 weeks a year would really be a drag (and I think that would likely need to count as your vacation) and the mobilization (6-9 months every 5 years when I was in) would be a real problem. Plus I work a good deal of weekends, and can't just "be drilling." Also, if you have any military experience, just imagine the worst run PSD/HR department and all the paperwork and dumb sh*t you have to do--sums up a typical drill weekend, in my experience. I did do some cool stuff during my 2 weeks, but the amount of work it took to line up overseas travel was a nightmare as a 1L--I cannot imagine it as a practicing attorney.

Every firm would say they are accommodating, but none of them will like it and I strongly think it would hurt your progression. Biglaw is a consuming career, and I don't see there being room to be a reservist (all just my opinion of course, and I have zero JAG knowledge (other than knowing a couple and thinking it doesn't sound interesting at all, but that isn't what you asked!)).

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Re: Big Law / Army Reserve JAG Corps

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:28 pm
Can anyone speak to the difference between JAG in the reserves and National Guard? Incoming associate at a V10’s non-NY office wondering if one is more feasible than the other.
I'm the midlevel reservist from above. I might be biased, but I think that USAR is easier to handle with a biglaw career than NG. As a USAR JAG, you can spend most of your time in an LOD doing legal assistance work on your weekend drill, which is a small unit of other reservist JAGs, all of whom have civilian legal careers (though most will be local/state government lawyers in their civilian lives). Your LOD commander will also be a JAG with a civilian legal career, who will probably have at least some level of sympathy for your plight as a biglaw associate. That is NOT the case in the NG. In the NG, you will likely be embedded in a unit that is not entirely composed of lawyers, and the non-lawyers are less likely to understand your issues balancing your civilian legal career. NG functions more like the active Army than the Army Reserve. USAR also has a lot less involuntary call ups for little one-off type missions, because we don't (typically) respond to state/local emergencies.

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Re: Big Law / Army Reserve JAG Corps

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:06 pm
The 2 weeks a year would really be a drag (and I think that would likely need to count as your vacation) and the mobilization (6-9 months every 5 years when I was in) would be a real problem. Plus I work a good deal of weekends, and can't just "be drilling."
This is really going to vary by firm. My V25 biglaw firm has specific military leave for those two weeks where they pay you your full salary alongside whatever you get from the military. There is one partner and a handful of associates (including at least one senior one) who are reservists (some JAG and some not).

That's not to say it'd be easy. One weekend a month, two weeks a year is not something that holds true as you rise in rank (if it's even true as a junior), and you will find yourself with increasing responsibilities on the reserve side just as you start to get them in your civilian job. For many people this means that something has to give-- either their civilian or military career takes a hit or even goes away.

Highly recommend tracking down JAG reservists in biglaw and asking them about their experiences to get some straight answers (good and bad) so that you can go in with open eyes. Serving the country is great-- just go into it with some sense of what to expect.

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Re: Big Law / Army Reserve JAG Corps

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Aug 05, 2020 7:41 am

I posted the third comment and am from the DC firm. In reading the other comments, my suspicions seem to be reinforced. I think DC firms in general may be more supportive of this than other cities due to the intersection with the government. Still, I'm sure it's very firm dependent.

In my service, almost all of the reserve judge advocate jobs are IMA (so no strict one weekend a month/2 weeks a year scheduled). This has worked out great as the work has mostly been able to have been done remotely (even before this pandemic). There are certainly IMA roles that can't be done remotely, but we seem to have plenty of options. Again, I was as AD for a tour so going that route may be easier than going straight into the reserves with no AD experience. The AD time really helps me navigate the administrative nonsense.

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