Old 09-27-2007, 21:23   #1
JD1983
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Law School

Right now I'm going into my second year of law school (prior to law school I received a B.A.) and like many law students I've realized that being a lawyer isn't for me. As my reply on the introduction thread states I've had an interest in the military and specifically SF since I was a child and now I've come to the realization that I want to give it my all and sign an 18x-ray contract. I want to be SF first and foremost, and secondarily apply for OCS and become an 18A after serving some time as an SF NCO (This is just a goal and I know there is definitely no certainty).

My question is should I finish my last two years of law school then enlist, or enlist sooner rather than later? I'm lucky enough that tuition money isn't an issue and I'm wondering if having an advanced degree would help me as an officer?
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Old 09-27-2007, 23:52   #2
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SF planning focuses on PACE--Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency. Making the bold assumption you are selected and complete training and are assigned to a Group, what is your Alternate life plan if you get seriously injured and can no longer serve? I believe it would be handy to have a professional degree to fall on in that circumstance, but in the end you have to make your own life decisions.
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Old 09-28-2007, 07:54   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Razor View Post
SF planning focuses on PACE--Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency. Making the bold assumption you are selected and complete training and are assigned to a Group, what is your Alternate life plan if you get seriously injured and can no longer serve? I believe it would be handy to have a professional degree to fall on in that circumstance, but in the end you have to make your own life decisions.


That advice comes from someone who has lived it!
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Old 09-28-2007, 08:49   #4
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Get the law degree, and take the bar exam as soon as you are eligible, so that everything is still fresh in your mind. Just because you graduate and pass the bar does not mean that you actually have to practice. I worked with a DEA special agent who graduated from law school, for example, and he never worked a day as an attorney.

This war is not going anywhere. There will be a war to go to for a long time.
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Old 09-28-2007, 09:16   #5
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That sounds like good advice. I've definitely considered that aspect, but hearing it from QP's really drives it home.

I guess I have to get back to writing my mock appellate brief for advocacy .
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Old 09-28-2007, 09:47   #6
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Get the best grades you can. Makes a big difference in the opportunities you'll have after school no matter what you end up doing.
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Old 09-28-2007, 10:34   #7
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I agree with the points previously made about the value of professional degrees and the options that they can generate. However, I do not agree with the advice to finish law school if you are certain that you do not want to practice in the future.

Contrary to popular opinion, law school alone is not great training for non-legal pursuits in business or policy. I know many, many attorneys who graduated from top law schools and who are at elite firms, but who are completely miserable and unable to switch tracks. This is partly because they have become accustomed to the predictable cash flows of firm life, but also because practice tends to narrow, not broaden, your focus over time. In addition, they wasted valuable credit hours on obscure areas of the law in which they had little genuine interest, instead of developing other valuable tools like accounting, corporate finance, economics, marketing, etc.

This is not to say that law school is not both challenging and stimulating. However, I was once in your position and decided to walk away, and consider it to be the best move that I ever made. If you think that you might want to practice, by all means complete the degree, but hedge your bets by exploring joint degree programs with business, public policy, international affairs, etc. It will only add a year to your timeline and, as someone said above, the war isn't going anywhere.

If you are positive that you will never want to practice, you are wasting daylight by continuing to develop skills that will not necessarily help you in civilian life. Even if tuition is not a major consideration for you, there is still an opportunity cost to be considered. You might be better off investing the next two years in a different degree program.
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Last edited by jatx; 09-28-2007 at 11:26.
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Old 09-28-2007, 10:53   #8
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Cadet jatx:

You are offering opinions when you are neither a QP, nor have you had much of a military career yet.

You may have a lot of experience in the business world, but with several retired disabled vets and QPs who have actually BTDT posting on this thread, you might want to consider whether you have the military and QP background to provide quality input to the discussion. No one enters the military anticipating leaving with a serious physical compromise, but it is an eventuality we all must be prepared for, and better to have a steady, reliable source of income to fall back upon than to rely upon the VA to provide for your family.

TR
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Old 09-28-2007, 11:48   #9
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True, that, TR.

I also am reminded of a guy that worked at Boeing Helicopters in Ridley Park when I was a contracter there in the early 1990's. He was a law school grad, and he was making a very comfortable living working with government contracts for that firm. Technically speaking, he was not working as an attorney. But he obviously had training that stood him in good stead.

Most attorneys that I know also dabble with various business endeavors. I think that all would agree that their legal training is invaluable. Having a law degree in your hip pocket is very desirable.

I understand the point about "wasting time," but I suspect that it is a point made by a young man, who may be giving voice to impatience more than he realizes.
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Last edited by magician; 09-28-2007 at 11:50.
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Old 09-28-2007, 12:15   #10
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I really appreciate these comments. I'll continue my legal studies while spending my spare time reading up and preparing.

This has quickly become my favorite site.
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Old 09-28-2007, 12:43   #11
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I'm an attorney - or at least I graduated from law school. Now I'm mostly a mom of three kids and an Army wife. Sometimes I practice, sometimes I don't - it all depends on where we live and how long we are going to be there and I don't practice anything flashy or Perry Mason but I keep my foot in the door. I'd bet money there would be some who'd say my legal education was being wasted right now. I don't think it is - it's just dormant while I wait for my turn. Sometimes it takes years to see the bigger picture and you never know what life is going to hand you.

An education never goes to waste. If you read and look around on this board and in the news you'll see that those in the military and even in SF are getting targeted on a more frequent basis for their actions in the sandbox and beyond. A "sheepdog lawyer" is becoming more necessary for them. Typical lawyers, even JAG lawyers, are failing them. Even if you don't become JAG - just knowing what is and isn't legal in the US and with various international conventions is looking to become awfully critical now and in the future. Like Magician said, this war isn't going anywhere.

Do some research and reading, and see if you can get some directed reading, independent or self-study credits for research in this area. Heck, you might even get yourself published because this area is very newsworthy. There are a number of threads on this if you look. There are also a number of books out there that would give you a good start. When law school got a little dry for me toward my third year I invented my own directed reading curriculum with the help of some very cooperative professors. Get creative and find some good material and proposals and you can do the same. There are threads on some great books already, but I'm reading Combat Self-Defense by David Bolgiano based on a board recommendation and it's got a wealth of reseach possibities in it. You can also pick up the Servicemembers Legal Guide by LTC Jonathan Tomes for a general overview of military justice that might lead you in some interesting directions.

Additionally, there is a wealth of information on this board that could lead you in very interesting research areas by just watching the board and poking around it. There are at least two lawyers on here (Roguish Lawyer and AirborneLawyer) that are incredibly impressive in their knowledge and experience and you should just read every post they've made and I'm sure you'll find some massively good stuff floating that could lead you in some cool directions. If you make these last two years of law school your own - it'll be a lot more interesting and stand you in good stead for whatever you have in store down the road. But don't take sliding-on-by classes because you are bored with school, it'll just make the problem worse.

But finish and like RL said - get good grades.
AND TAKE THE BAR RIGHT AFTERWARDS!! I took it right afterwards in one state and three years later in another and it was monumentally harder the second time around for a bunch of reasons.
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Last edited by Shar; 09-28-2007 at 14:16. Reason: Added my $.02 on the bar exam.
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Old 09-28-2007, 12:46   #12
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Here's another angle. I agree with Shar, it never goes to waste. Also, if you wait (like a certain someone I know), you tend to blow the curve on availability of ANY tuition assistance, grants, loans etc....

Something I am dealing with right now.
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Old 09-28-2007, 12:56   #13
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We have had a surprising number of lawyers enter under 18X contracts and I have been satisfied with their performance thus far.

It has to be hilarious having an E4 lawyer on an ODA, both on the team, and in interacting with those outside the team.

In my SF career, I never failed to be impressed by some of the odd skills that team members, especially those who came in through the Guard brought with them. I have served with principals, craftsmen, equipment operators, former elected representatives (none with a wide stance, that I knew of), etc.

I would rather have the guy who actually stuck it out through school and finished it. I do not have a lot of respect for quitters, and once you start, it gets to be a habit.

TR
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Old 09-28-2007, 13:20   #14
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[QUOTE]
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Reaper View Post
We have had a surprising number of lawyers enter under 18X contracts and I have been satisfied with their performance thus far.
I was just going to state that my son met some JD holders while going through the Q., but TR beat me to it.
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Old 09-28-2007, 13:33   #15
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Law School vs. Special Forces

If you have an interest and ability in the law, and in Special Forces, they are not mutually exclusive goals.

It is not impossible to wear the Special Forces Tab with JAG (Judge Advocate General) branch insignia.

http://members.aol.com/cbjpegs/Jungles.JPG

You have received the best advice:

1 - Complete what you have started (law school, at an ABA accreditated school).

2 - Graduate and pass a state bar examination.

3 - You may want to consider a career as a JAG officer. Ask your law school career placement advisor, they will have contacts with JAG recruiters. It is no longer possible to become Special Forces qualified while a member of another branch, since Special Forces is its own branch. You may (extremely unlikely) be assigned as a JAG to a Special Forces Group as the unit JAG, but without prior combat arms service that would be rare, and assignment to the Group as a JAG does not get you SF qualification.

4 - You may want to enlist for 18X, or enlist for Officer Candidate School. Upon qualification in a basic branch (such as Infantry), you can seek SFAS and qualification as a Special Forces officer. An advanced degree is a plus (Special Forces personnel are supposed to be smarter than the average bear).

5 - Can you serve half a career in Special Forces, then transfer into the JAG Corps? Yes, I know of one person who did. But it's rare, since it is technically not a 'branch transfer;' you must actually "accession-out" of Special Forces and "assession-in" to JAG, complete with a new commission and oath.

Last edited by CSB; 09-28-2007 at 14:21.
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