Navy and Air Force JAG Corps gain Duke Law talent!

Duke Law is increasingly the ‘go-to’ place for those interested in pursuing a career as a military lawyer. It’s a real ‘win-win’ as the armed forces are getting truly top talent. Just this week we heard wonderful news about some of our recent grads, and I wanted to share it with you.

Ms. Noveroske in 2018

LTJG Rachel Noveroske, JAGC, USN, Class of 2018 finished first – yes, #1 – in her class of 37 students at the Basic Lawyer Course at the Naval Justice School in Newport, RI. Rachel was a spectacular student here at Duke, but being at the very top of her class filled with legal talent from across the nation is a really awesome achievement. Given how hard it is to get into the military as a lawyer these days (the selection rate hovers around 10-15% of applicants), consider that her classmates were among the best of the best of their generation of the legal profession. Rachel will serve her first tour of duty at Naval Station Mayport, FL 

LT Welch, JAGC, USN, Duke Law, Class of 2017

She’ll be a stone’s throw from LT Shannon Welch, Duke Law Class of 2017, who is assigned to nearby Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FL, where she stays busy in the courtroom.

Rachel was joined at the graduation award ceremony by LTJG Taylor Johnston, JAGC, USN, Duke Law Class of 2016, who finished second in the same Naval Justice School class, and who also won the prestigious trial advocacy award for the course. Taylor’s path to JAG Corps is an interesting one. As he puts it:

LTJGs Noveroske and Johnston receiving their awards from CAPT Thow, JAGC, USN, and Major General Lecce, USMC, in 2019.

“I spent my first two years after law school working as an Honor’s Fellow in the Georgia Department of Law (Georgia Attorney General’s Office). While there, I spent my first year in the Criminal Justice Division, where I represented the State on appeals of murder convictions, as well as representing the Department of Corrections, and prison wardens by extension, in litigating habeas corpus petitions. I spent my second year working in the Special Prosecutions Unit, where we focused on fraud and crimes committed by state employees.”

“During my second year at the Department, I knew I had to decide what I was going to do next.  I had always planned to spend my career as a prosecutor at the state level, it was only by chance (and the great work of the Duke Clerkship Coordinators) that I ended up with the Honor’s Fellowship and prosecuting straight out of law school like I had planned. However, as I began thinking and praying about my next move, it became clear that the JAG Corps was the right choice…Having spent the last six months on active duty in the Navy JAG Corps, I can say with certainty that the JAG Corps has been everything I hoped for and more.”

Taylor will be stationed at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Yokosuka, Japan.

Mr. May and Ms. Iskenderian at graduation in 2018.

The Air Force JAG Corps has Duke Law graduates as well who have just completed their initial training. You may recall reading about 1Lt William May, USAF, Class of 2018, and 1Lt Kara Iskenderian, USAF, also of the class or 2018 in this post: “Despite turbulent times, they’ve said “Send me”: meet the Air Force’s newest Lieutenants!”

1LTs Iskenderian and May in 2019.

While here at Duke, they were leaders in the national security law community and we are delighted they are taking their many talents to the USAF JAG Corps. This now-married couple graduated April 26th from the Air Force’s Judge Advocate Staff Officer Course at Maxwell Air Force Base, AL. William will be stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX, and Kara will be at Lackland AFB, also in San Antonio.   The picture at the left is with The Judge Advocate General, Lt Gen. Jeff Rockwell, USAF, at the formal graduation dinner.

Mr. Lane

Capt Beissner

And the class of 2019 will add even more talent to the armed forces as Capt Lance Beissner will become an Air Force JAG, and Andrew Lane will serve as an Army JAG after clerking for Judge Janis Graham Jack of the Southern District of Texas in Corpus Christi (see here for more about these gentlemen and other Duke Law grads headed for public interest careers.)

We’re thrilled to see all of these great young people choosing uniformed public service! We pray for their safety, and wish them all the best as they begin what I know will be terrific careers of service to the nation!

If you want to read more about Duke Law grads serving as military lawyers, check out these posts: What are JAGs (with Duke Law connections!) doing in Afghanistan? Reviewing $1 billion in requirements and much more and Saluting the Navy: more about JAGs (with Duke Law connections!)

BTW, info on Navy JAG is here, Air Force JAG is here; Army JAG is here; Marine Corps JAG is here; and Coast Guard JAG is here. I’d be remiss, however, if I failed to also mention the many opportunities for civilian lawyers who work for the Department of Defense (DoD). Counting full and part-time military and civilian lawyers, DoD has over 10,000 attorneys worldwide. Also, check out Duke Law’s Certificate in Public Interest and Public Service Law (PIPS) program.

Of course, as we like to say on Lawfire®, gather the facts, consider the pros and cons, and decide for yourself!



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