Navy Judge Advocates Speak to Interns About Careers

By Lt. Colin Hood and Lt. j.g. Ryan Kennedy, Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington  Now that summer is here, Navy JAG Corps interns have come to the National […]

By Lt. Colin Hood and Lt. j.g. Ryan Kennedy, Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington 

Now that summer is here, Navy JAG Corps interns have come to the National Capital Region (NCR) to participate in a range of Navy activities, and to learn about a future career in the naval service. At a panel discussion aboard the Washington Navy Yard, attorneys from the Office of the Judge Advocate General (OJAG), Military Personnel (Code 61), the Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington (RLSO NDW), as well as the Defense Service Office North, sat down with interns from the NCR to talk about what they can expect from their first tour in the corps, June 9, 2015.

“Navy JAG Corps interns assist in providing legal services to support fleet readiness and effective operation of the military justice system,” said Lt. Daniel Mangual, OJAG Code 61 program coordinator. “These services include legal advice to military commanders, legal assistance to military families, and military justice litigation. The 2015 Navy JAG Corps summer internship program officially began on June 1 and will last approximately eight weeks. We currently have 61 interns volunteering at commands located across the globe. Our largest contingent of 26 interns is located in the Navy Capital Region.”

Summer interns are positioned throughout the NCR and assist their departments with substantive legal issues. Shannon Welch, a second-year law student at Duke University School of Law, currently works as an intern at RLSO NDW.

“I am working with Trial Counsel in Military Justice at RLSO NDW, helping draft motions, prepare case screens and PMM [Prosecutorial Merit Memoranda], and sitting in on trials,” Welch said. “In my four weeks with Trial Counsel I have learned how unique the military justice system is: from the role of the Military Judge, to the ability of members to ask questions of witnesses, to the role of command in charging the accused. I am applying to the Student Program and hope to join Navy JAG after graduation. I am most interested in military justice, but also want to take advantage of opportunities to travel and gain new skills”

Interns who go on to become attorneys in the Navy JAG Corps can expect to spend their first two years participating in the First Tour Judge Advocate (FTJA) program. During this time, members rotate approximately every six months between trial, command services, defense, and legal assistance departments. This experience allows the more junior members of the JAG Corps to gain exposure to the full breadth of issues they might face in the fleet.

“At a recent lunch I learned about the FTJA program,” Welch said, “and heard current FTJAs talk about how their experience in each different duty informed their understanding of the next, building the unique skills of advocacy, client work, legal writing, and leadership, that make a well-rounded attorney.”

Civilian law students are not the only ones who can take advantage of the opportunities available to interns. The JAG Corps’ In-service Procurement Program (JAGC IPP) also allows for an opportunity for enlisted active-duty Sailors to attend law school and subsequently commission as an officer in the Navy JAG Corps.

Aviation Electrician’s Mate 1st Class (AW) Christopher Salmon, currently a RLSO NDW intern, attends law school as part of the In-service Procurement Program.

“I have been in the Navy for nine years,” Salmon said. “I was previously stationed in Hawaii and deployed to Japan, Iraq, Qatar, Sicily, and El Salvador. I am currently a second-year law student at George Mason School of Law. I am going to school under the JAGC IPP. As a future judge advocate I am most excited about gaining experience in environmental, international, and criminal law.”

Interns work closely with the commands that host them, but they also have opportunities to take ship tours, watch trials and oral arguments at local courts, and participate in networking events in and around Washington D.C.

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