Calling all law students! Info about careers in the Air Force, Army, National Security Agency – and more
Recently I’ve received information about legal careers in the Air Force, Army, and the National Security Agency that I wanted to pass on to law students – and others who may be interested in such opportunities. (BTW, I have an upcoming post about national security law careers in the private sector.)
I’m especially excited about the first input from Maj. Dedra Campbell (and it’s not just because she’s the Air Force’s top JAG recruiter!) She’s a fellow Villanova Law alumni! (Let’s just say we were a few years apart!) Maj. Campbell provides a quick overview and some helpful links:
1) Each year, the Air Force selects approximately 25-30 paid summer 1L and 2L interns for assignments around the country. In light of COVID-19, The Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG Corps) has managed its internship/externship programs through a mix of in-the-office work and telework. The application window for spring externship program will likely open in September. This year, summer internship positions will likely be advertised in the December/January Application windows. They are always announced on the JAG Corps’ social media pages (Facebook at www.facebook.com/USAFJAG and LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/air-force-jag-corps-015803143/), and all career service officers are notified.
As an intern, you would have the opportunity to work under attorney supervision in numerous practice areas including, but not limited to: preparing criminal and civil cases by conducting legal research, writing briefs and opinions, conducting investigations, and interviewing witnesses; assisting attorneys who counsel and represent Airmen, veterans, their family members, and retirees in personal legal matters; and supporting attorneys in other areas, such as federal tort claims, government procurement law, employment law, international law, and environmental law.
2) The Graduate Law Program (GLP) is designed for first year law students to participate in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) for two years while in law school. The One-Year College Program (OYCP) is designed for second year law students to participate in AFROTC for one year while in law school. The JAG Corps does not award any scholarships for participation in GLP/OYCP. However, students successfully completing GLP/OYCP are guaranteed a position in the JAG Corps once they meet all the JAG Corps’ licensing requirements. The application deadline for the GLP/OYCP is 10 January. The application is available online at airforce.com/jag.
3) If you have completed your second year of law school or have completed two-thirds of your degree requirements you may apply for a direct appointment as a JAG. Boards are held three times a year (September, November, and April). You must submit the online application by the 10th day of the month prior to the board (10 August, 10 October, and 10 March). The application window for the upcoming November selection board will open approximately 14 September. The minimum requirements to be an Air Force JAG are: (1) that you be 39 years of age or younger; (2) a U.S. citizen; (3) a J.D. graduate of an ABA approved law school; (4) admitted to the highest court of any state or U.S. territory; (5) and pass the medical examination after selection.
Captain Tyler Gattermeyer is the Army’s designated as a Field Screening Officer (FSO) for Duke Law which means he’ll be actually conducting the interviews albeit remotely. For Duke Law students he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org (Law students at other institutions can easily link to Army JAG Corp’s recruiting information here).
Capt Gattermeyer provided a link to the current issue of the Army Lawyer, and it gives you an idea of the span of duties for an Army JAG, and it also has an interesting article on Korean-American women in the Corps.
Captain Gattermeyer provided a short but interesting summary of his journey to becoming a military lawyer:
I graduated from the Univ. of Louisville School of Law in 2010 and spent approx. 3.5 years as a public defender before accepting a Reserve commission with the Army JAG Corps. After a little over a year in the Reserves (the majority of which I spent on active duty orders at Tobyhanna Army Depot, near Scranton, PA), I accessed into the Regular Army with my first assignment as Trial Defense Counsel at Camp Casey, Korea. After my one-year tour with TDS [Trial and Defense Services], my wife and I moved to Ft. Stewart, GA where I took an assignment as Trial Counsel with the 3d Infantry Division.
I spent nearly two years with 3ID and then moved to my current assignment at Ft. Bragg, NC where I currently serve as the Battalion Judge Advocate for 1st Battalion, 3d Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Almost immediately after signing in to my current unit, we deployed to Syria. I was the legal advisor for the Special Operations Task Force and my primary role was to advise the SOTF Commander on Law of War/LOAC/ROE/Operational Authorities, while also reviewing fiscal operations, advising on administrative investigations, and essentially anything else that came up (aside from providing legal advice to individual Soldiers).
We were in Syria for about 4 months when Turkey began their offensive campaign into northern Syria, which as I’m sure you know, changed everything for us. Was definitely a unique (and difficult) situation, one which taught me more than I could have anticipated.
We returned mid-January and my duties returned to more traditional in-garrison duties. I still do operational authority analysis and ROE briefs, but more time is spent on administrative law actions, UCMJ, ethics, legal reviews of training concepts, etc.
The big thing that drew me to the JAG Corps was the operational, law of war piece. It’s simply fascinating to me. In that regard, I couldn’t ask for a better assignment than the one I have right now. Getting to practice operational law in a dynamic, deployed environment is (for lack of a better term) awesome.
Duke Law grad Ben Kastan, who is currently the Assistant General Counsel for Cyber and Chief of the Cyber Unit within the National Security Agency (NSA) Office of General Counsel (OGC) , advises about a great civilian opportunity in the intelligence community. Here’ an extract from the NSA materials (be sure to note the deadline):
We wanted to make you aware that we have posted a vacancy announcement for the Legal Honors Program in the National Security Agency’s Office of General Counsel. We are seeking highly motivated entry-level attorneys to join our Legal Honors Program in Fall 2021.
The Program is a three-year term appointment that includes rotations through our seven legal practice groups, which include the areas of Operational Authorities; Operational Support; Legislation; Litigation; Acquisition, Research & Technology Law; Law & Policy; and Administrative Law & Ethics.
Honors attorneys will be well positioned at the close of their three-year term to apply successfully for a full-time attorney position within NSA OGC or to utilize the skills acquired during the Program to launch a career outside of the Agency in national security law or other legal disciplines. More information about the Legal Honors Program and NSA’s Office of General Counsel is now available on NSA’s website (see here).
The ad closes September 30, 2020, and we encourage those that are eligible for the program to apply online here.
Please note that NSA OGC has determined that all hiring for the Legal Honors Program will occur virtually this year. All applicants must apply through the intelligencecareers.gov website, rather than through an OCI program. Feel free to contact us at OGC_Hiring@nsa.gov with any questions.
I hasten to add that there are also terrific military career opportunities in the Navy (see here), Marine Corps (see here), and also the Coast Guard (see here). In addition, the JAG corps also hire civilian lawyers, and, separately, the service general counsel offices hire civilian lawyers as well.
Duke Law has had an enviable record of helping students become military lawyers, as well as obtain other positions in the government’s national security enterprise (see e.g., here, here, here, and here). That said, as I mention above, there are also plenty of opportunities in the private sector for careers related to national security law, so be on the lookout for upcoming posts discussing them.