MarineLaw wrote:Looking for some sound advice from Active Duty JAGs/Judge Advocates:
I'm on the active-duty ELP program and have to make some course selections for law school this year. ELP is weird and different than FLEP in that while we get three years to go to law school while on active duty, we only get paid active duty salary for every day we are NOT in class. That means most people on ELP try to schedule their classes on as few days possible to maximize their pay.
The predicament: As fate would have it, my law school has scheduled nearly all of the crim and public law courses on MWF, and all of its non-relevant-to-JAG-practive business and employment law courses TuTh. The math equals out to taking a $3k pay hit each semester for a day that I am in class every week (~$200 per day x 15 weeks).
I understand that CrimPro (both adjudication and investigations), and evidence can't, and shouldn't be avoided by a future JAG. However, what about other courses? Is it worth saving money and taking more business-oriented courses, or should I take the pay hit and take the most relevant courses to being a JA? Also, keeping in mind, clinics and internships relevant to the JAG experience (i.e. DA's office, Trial Ad 1 & 2, AUSA, Fed Defenders, etc.) all require the types of courses scheduled on MWF.
For this semester I'm looking at
TuTh selections--i.e. not as relevant
Labor Law, First Amendment, Water Law, Torts, LRW 1
Labor Law, Evidence, ConCrimPro (inves.), Torts, LRW 1
I started out going to LS part time, and got selected for ELP while fulfilling another billet, now I'm going FT (hence the remaining 1L courses).
Really I'm just looking for guidance on how much of a stickler I should be on taking those recommended JAG courses versus taking what will keep my pay check from getting hit. The recommended course list for future JAs on this program is basically Labor Law, Fed Courts, Crim (everything), Intl Law, Environmental Law, Appellate Writing & Advocacy, Employment Discrim and Employment Law.
For the real-live practicing, JAs--what would you generally do? Save the money or take the relevant courses and internships/clinics?
Guidance very much appreciated!
That's a pretty tough question. I don't know what the money means to you right now (or in the future), so I'll only speak to my experiences with course selection. I also believe you're a Marine, so your mileage may vary in your branch.
I greatly appreciate the classes I took in law school. I use many of them almost daily. I just looked at the list of courses I took, and there are maybe 2 that weren't entirely useful - Patent Law and Sales. And Sales only because it was really a re-hash of Contracts. I actually did use Patent Law, I guess. I had a legal assistance client come in asking about patents. We can't really help with that, but I at least pointed her in the right direction.
The crim-focused courses come into play every day. I feel like I have a much better background on those issues after having those classes. The advocacy classes/activities/experiences were also extremely helpful. Of the non-crim classes, I would strongly suggest Admin and Labor Law classes. If you can get a class exposing you to International Law, that would be helpful.
I viewed law school as a chance to get started getting good at my future career. There is a lot of carry over with the suggested JAG-centric classes. However, most people don't give up more money based on class selection. If it were me, I would take the classes, but that's not going to be everyone's choice.