#BZFriday: Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40

By Lt. Adam Sitte (RLSO EURAFSWA) and Navy Judge Advocate General Corps Public Affairs

As Pride Month (June) kicks off, two members of the Navy JAG Corps have been acknowledged by the LGBT Bar Association. Lt. Jennifer Johnson and Lt. Paul Wagoner have been named among the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 (Class of 2017).

Johnson, who currently serves at COMUSNAVCENT Bahrain, lived in the Middle East as a child during the Gulf War. In law school, she taught sexual orientation and the law and was an International Human Rights Fellowship Recipient. Thereafter, when studying for her LL.M. degrees (Business Tax; International and Comparative Law), she served as the youngest President of the LGBT Bar Association in Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S.

While a member of RLSO EURAFSWA, Johnson continued her commitment to LGBT equality and dedication to the local military community by volunteering to facilitate the Navy’s Transgender inclusion training in Bahrain and making herself available as a legal resource to all LGBT Sailors. Further, she worked behind the scenes to determine the easiest process for transgender Sailors to receive the treatment and support they needed while they privately discussed these matters with their commanding officers. Finally, as a native of Saudi Arabia, she leveraged her knowledge of Arabic culture and language to build critical relationships and meet regularly with Bahrain Public Prosecution officials, on behalf of U.S. military sexual assault victims, to advocate for the prosecution of foreign national offenders.

Wagoner, who currently serves as victims legal counsel at Naval Base San Diego, grew up in Dayton, Ohio. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Miami University (2007) and his law degree from Boston College (2010). He commissioned as a direct appointment in August 2014.

After two clerkships, Wagoner served as an Assistant District Attorney in Massachusetts. He is counsel of record on ten published opinions of the Appeals and Supreme Judicial Courts. He reported to Officer Development School in Newport, R.I. in August 2014. He graduated from Naval Justice School in December 2014, where he was named Outstanding Trial Advocate. He supported Commander, Navy Region Southeast in the investigation into the Chattanooga Navy Operational Support Center terrorist attack in July 2015 and supported Operation Bold Alligator aboard USS Bataan (LHD 5) in August 2016.

“I am humbled and proud to represent my shipmates and the navy in this year’s class of honorees,” said Wagoner. “My open service would not be possible without the honor, courage, and commitment of LGBTQ service members who served in silence.  I’m thrilled that the JAG Corps values and supports diverse perspectives.”

Each year, the LGBT Bar Association recognizes LGBT legal professionals (practicing lawyers, law professors, corporate counsel, members of the judiciary, politicians, etc.) under the age of 40 who have distinguished themselves in their field and have demonstrated a profound commitment to LGBT equality. The National LGBT Bar Association is an affiliate of the American Bar Association.

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