The short answer is it is very possible to get experience in these areas but as always, it all depends. As has been discussed throughout the thread, the standard AF JAG model has you at two base legal assignments over four years, amounting to a total of two years in civil and two years in military justice. When working within the civil law divisions, you will get exposed to all that stuff. Fiscal and contracting law have been and remain common assignments for our deployed folks. Once you get out of base legal, you can request to be assigned to the real deal headquarters civil law directorate within AFLOA.twenty wrote:Hi Patrick, your comments on this thread has been infinitely helpful to someone (myself) looking to do JAG. I very much hope you decide to stick around even after you leave active duty.Patrick Bateman wrote: Experience in labor, federal employment, and the like is very marketable. Information litigation (FOIA, Privacy Act, etc) is also extremely marketable and in demand. Ethics sells well, as does anything related to procurement/contracting/acquisitions. Folks with contracting experience will do very well when they get out. Having a TS or TS/SCI clearance is also very helpful, depending on where you want to go.
Question concerning the above quoted; are those fields (ethics, contracting, etc.) difficult to get experience in within JAG? I can't help but think everyone and their cousin would want to do this kind of work for the exact reasons you articulated in your post.
The "everyone and their cousin" conclusion presupposes that the sole motivation for a JAG is to gain marketable civil law experience in order to punch to a Fed general counsel position. This is not the case. A lot of us joined because the AF is the best for trial experience from the onset (in my opinion) and that we do it right competitively selecting our trial defense counsel from experienced trial counsel. I came in to litigate and frankly wanted nothing to do with contracts.
Another assumed value in your analysis (not attacking you or anything, I know you threw this out there as a hypothetical) is that just tons of civil law experience is going to be clincher for marketability. What made me effective as an applicant was that I had been very successful as a trial attorney and I also had some of that civil law experience. I sold all of those skills that made me effective in the courtroom as why they needed me instead of another applicant who arguably had more subject matter expertise. That all said, that approach would never get me in the door for a contracting position with the Fed govt or a defense contractor.
There is no right and wrong when it comes to this -- folks tend to gravitate toward their skill set and comfort zone and all of it can be marketed successfully to civilian employers if done by the right person. Sitting up at the HQ level now, we need civil litigation experts as much as we need criminal appeals experts. All necessary pieces to providing full spectrum legal advice. The AF imposes the "generalist" experience regardless -- civil law weenies will find themselves litigating motions and trial bros will find themselves steeped in the Federal Acquisition Regulation. If you find you have a passion for something, a good leader will encourage that but there is always the omnipresent "needs of the AF" that often takes priority.