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News | June 6, 2018

Navy JAG Corps Strengthens Diversity Outreach, Partnerships

By Navy Judge Advocate General Corps Public Affairs

The Navy Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps is welcoming its most diverse assembly of new judge advocates, the organization announced today.

The results of the spring 2018 JAG Corps Accession Board speak volumes to the recruiting initiatives of the organization, rising to the challenge of Chief of Naval Operations' War for Talent.

In 2017, enrollment in accredited law school J.D. programs was at its lowest point in 40 years, and has declined precipitously from its peak in 2010-2011. To combat the reduced pool of potential applicants, the organization launched its Diversity Liaison Program, which directly supports the JAG community's Strategic Framework and Sailor 2025 by helping the JAG Corps "build a strong, diverse, resilient JAG community." Spearheaded by the Navy JAG community's Military Personnel Division (Code 61), the program enriches current relationships and forges new partnerships with national and student diversity organizations.

"The spread of diversity among our new accessions is better than ever, and the quality of those candidates is remarkable," said Vice Adm. James W. Crawford III, the Navy's judge advocate general. "We are just beginning to see the results of the Diversity Liaison Program and these expanded partnerships."

The Diversity Liaison Program assigns exceptional Navy judge advocates to act as sustained partners with select national and student diversity organizations in the legal field. These representatives establish substantive and open communication between the Navy JAG Corps and the community leaders and potential applicants within these organizations. Championing a commitment to public service, the liaisons are often the first substantive exposure to those in military service for many organization members.

The program supports the Department of the Navy's Diversity and Inclusion Roadmap, a guide for increasing diversity within the Navy and fostering a culture of inclusion. The Diversity Liaison Program answers the Roadmap's first strategic imperative - to recruit from a diverse group of applicants to secure a high-performing, innovative workforce that reflects all segments of society.

In just one year since the program's inception in 2017, the JAG Corps has seen increases of as much as 300 percent in applications from specific organizations with which the diversity liaisons partner, in addition to dozens more educational and mentoring opportunities.

The National Black Law Student Association (NBLSA) is among the Navy JAG community's most well-established partnerships with a student group. During the organization's 2017-2018 term, the Navy JAG community participated in all six NBLSA regional events for the first time. Also, earlier this year, Diversity Liaison Lt. Chris Ironroad presented at an American Indian Law Seminar program for Native American students headed to law school. He was the first ever military representative to speak at this annual event, and his relationship with this special interest group continues to bear fruit for the organization, its members, and the JAG Corps.

The National LGBT Bar Association also has become a close partner of the Navy JAG community, thanks to the efforts of diversity liaisons like Lt. Paul Wagoner, who became one of the first active-duty recipients of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 award.

At the 2017 joint National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and National Asian Pacific American Annual Convention, the Navy JAG community led numerous leadership and public service panel discussions, in addition to substantive law presentations.

"Serving as a NAPABA/National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association diversity liaison is a mission dear to my heart," noted Diversity Liaison Lt. Dong Lee, who was also the first Navy JAG Corps recipient of the organization's Best Under 40 Award.

"As a law student, I first learned about the JAG Corps at a NAPABA event. I remember meeting and being inspired by Admiral DeRenzi at the 2012 NAPABA Convention in Washington, D.C. Even more refreshing was the fact that I met folks who look like me - Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders - in military service," added Lee.

Ensign Jeannie Chung, who will graduate from George Washington Law School this year, successfully applied to the JAG Corps after attending a NAPABA/NAPALSA conference and engaging with liaisons.

"The Navy JAG officers at NAPABA/diversity events replaced the intimidating, monolithic image of the military I had with a personable one and opened my eyes to the viability of a legal career in the JAG Corps," said Chung. "This change in my perception of the military at large and more specifically the Navy JAG Corps was absolutely vital to my decision to apply to the Student Program."

She added, "The qualities of the people representing the Navy JAG Corp played a large part in my decision to pursue a career as a JAG officer and was something I could not have directly understood without the Navy JAG's exposure at diversity events."

The Navy JAG community seeks to attract, develop, and retain a high quality workforce that values a culture of inclusion and is diverse in experience, background, and ideas. The applicants professionally recommended by the Spring 2018 JAG Corps Accessions Board will be a welcome addition to the community.

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