When I joined the the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in May 2013, I became an attorney for the oldest and second-largest law firm in the world. At the same time, I own and manage my own law firm. How? Here are the questions I get asked most frequently about being a judge advocate in the Maryland Army National Guard (MARNG).
5. How can you be a JAG and have your own private practice at the same time?
I serve as a JAG officer for the MARNG on a part-time basis which allows me to maintain a full-time civilian occupation. Similar to other National Guard soldiers, my military obligation in any given year is typically one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer or the equivalent thereof. Because legal work is difficult to confine to set training schedules, JAGs regularly have to be available to do work between scheduled military obligations to complete their legal assignments or missions.
Many times, people do not realize that there is a difference between National Guard and Reserves and incorrectly think that they are one and the same. While both the National Guard and Reserves are comprised of part-time soldiers, the main difference is the National Guard is the state militia subject to the authority of the governor, whereas the Reserves are a federal organization subject to the authority of the president of the United States.
3. What kind of law do you practice?
JAGs’ areas of practice include military justice, contract and fiscal law, international and operational law, administrative law and legal assistance. Because the Maryland Guard JAG office is relatively small, I am assigned cases, clients and tasks that span many legal disciplines.
JAGs are limited in the representation they can provide service members. Because of my dual role as both a civilian and military attorney, I have to make clear to my service-member clients whether I am representing them in my capacity as JAG or my capacity as civilian, private counsel.
2. Do you ever get deployed or have to go to war?
Yes, JAGs do get deployed to areas all over the world. JAGs serve as legal advisers to military commanders and have many responsibilities, including providing legal opinions on whether military actions comply with the laws of armed conflict to prosecuting or defending service members in courts martial.
1. What did you have to do to become a JAG?
I first had to apply and be selected by the State JAG Office. Once selected, I had to submit a comprehensive packet, similar to the bar application, for review to the JAG Board. Once the JAG Board approved my packet, I received my commission as a JAG officer and attended the Army JAG Course, which is two phases. The first phase is six weeks of training at Fort Benning, Ga., which familiarizes and exposes attorneys to basic soldiering and officer skills. The second phase is a ten-and-a-half-week academic program at The Judge Advocate General Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Va. I graduated from and became a certified Army JAG Officer in February.