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News | March 3, 2020

Naval Justice School Instructor Leaves a Lasting Impression on His Students

By Navy JAG Corps Public Affairs

Students of all ranks call him “fantastic,” “motivated and knowledgeable,” and “well-prepared, personable, and professional.” They leave Lt. David Rowley’s legal courses feeling more energized and engaged.

Rowley teaches a wide range of courses – including the Legal Officer Course and the Senior Leader Legal Course – at the Naval Justice School (NJS) detachment in Norfolk, Va.

Rowley reported to NJS – where he serves as Assistant Officer in Charge and Instructor – in January 2018 after a tour aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). Teaching has long been one of his passions; his first job was teaching merit badge courses at a Boy Scout camp during his high school summer vacations. Now, years later, he instructs naval officers enrolled in more than 20 classes focused on a wide range of legal topics every year.

“Lt. Rowley does an outstanding job as an instructor for a myriad of courses,” said Senior Chief Legalman Earl Brown, the Senior Enlisted Leader at the NJS detachment. “Feedback and student participation during his instruction is always stellar. He is an outstanding junior officer and the
commissioned officer prototype of the future.”

Rowley’s goal as an instructor is not to ensure all of his students receive high marks on his exams. Rather, he wants them to apply what they learn from him to their daily work in support of warfighters and the Fleet.

“The baseline for every judge advocate is competence in the material. Good instruction requires more than that, though,” said Rowley. “I approach from the belief that building relationships of trust with my students is the most effective way to help them learn from me. That means letting them know that I believe what they do is important.”

If his students know he is invested in their personal success, they are more open to challenging lessons and uncomfortable discussions, Rowley added.
His commitment to his students is reflected in their evaluations of his courses.

“Lt. Rowley did a terrific job at mixing legal information, relevant info, and personal experience,” said one Navy Captain after completing the Senior Leader Legal Course. “This was done in an engaging manner that made the course one of the most enjoyable and well-instructed of my training track.”

Rowley says that every student is unique, so he deploys a combination of teaching techniques.

“Every class has a different blend of personalities, and the legal officer students are very different from the senior officers in the Senior Leader Legal Course,” he said. “In all instances, it is important to adapt and find ways to engage – get them thinking and working through the issues themselves, while I serve as a guide and facilitator for them.”

Rowley received a juris doctor degree from The Pennsylvania State University, The Dickinson School of Law, in 2013. He was commissioned through the Navy JAG Corps student program in September 2013. He graduated from Officer Development School in December 2013 and the Basic Lawyer Course in March 2014. He completed the First Tour Judge Advocate program at Region Legal Service Office Southwest and Defense Service Office West in San Diego, Calif., before serving as Deputy Command Judge Advocate aboard the Ford.

“I love helping people solve problems, get to an acceptable outcome, and to see the light turn on in their head when they see how it all fits together,” Rowley said.

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