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News | July 27, 2018

Navy Judge Advocate Named Among Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40

By Navy JAG Corps Public Affairs

Lt. Cmdr. Jake Romelhardt has been named among the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 (Class of 2018) by the National LGBT Bar Association. Romelhardt and his fellow honorees will be honored at the 30th Annual Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair in New York City on August 8-10, 2018.

Romelhardt, the legal assistance department head at Region Legal Service Office Southwest leads four legal offices responsible for providing legal assistance services to a six-state area supporting 610 ashore/afloat commands and over 108,200 military personnel.

"When I joined the Navy, I joined an organization that could fire me merely for being gay," said Romelhardt.  "While I worked hard to make myself the best lawyer and officer I could be, I also spent an enormous amount of time and effort hiding this fundamental human aspect of myself from family, friends, shipmates, and coworkers.  Wonderful people who should have had a chance to know the entire me.  Then, the Navy went from finally repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to recognizing full same-sex spousal benefits in just over a year and a half.  In light of all of this, having the Navy and the JAG Corps recognize and support an award from the National LGBT Bar Association--and the speed of organizational change such recognition and support represents--has a tremendous personal impact.  Frankly, it is still hard to fully fathom.  I'm grateful the military can proudly recognize the contributions of its LGBT members at all.  Having the recognition be for me is just a small, added bonus."

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. Over the past decade, Romelhardt has deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and multiple other locations worldwide to provide advice and counsel on cutting-edge national-policy issues. Romelhardt has served at sea, in the air, and on land with both conventional and special operations forces. As a trusted attorney, Romelhardt has been on the forefront of the establishment of U.S. policy both in and out of defined theaters of active armed conflict. Romelhardt has also dedicated his career to scholarship, mentorship, and professional development.

Romelhardt taught senior-level law courses to future leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps at the U.S. Naval Academy before earning his LL.M. at Harvard Law School. In his current position, he has managed and mentored nearly 50 brand new attorneys--several of them LGBT. Romelhardt accepted his commission from the JAG Corps Student Program in December of 2004. A native of Saint Joseph, Michigan, Romelhardt graduated from Northwestern University in 2001 with a bachelor of arts degree in Psychology. In 2005, Romelhardt earned his juris doctor degree, summa cum laude, at the Boston University School of Law. The Navy is committed to recruiting and retaining top talent regardless of race, class, sex or background.
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