Lt. Aaron Spencer – a judge advocate currently assigned to the Ethics Branch of the Administrative Law Division (Code 13) at the Office of the Judge Advocate General – has been named one of the 2021 Best LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40 by the LGBT Bar Association.
Each year, the National LGBT Bar Association, an affiliate of the American Bar Association, recognizes LGBTQ+ legal professionals – practicing lawyers, law professors, corporate counsel, members of the judiciary, and politicians – under the age of 40 who have distinguished themselves in their field and have demonstrated a profound commitment to LGBTQ+ equality.
Spencer said he was “humbled and honored” upon learning of the recognition.
“Those are probably the best two adjectives I can use. The LGBT bar association has hundreds of well-deserving individuals, and the people I was nominated with are attorneys from all over country, specifically working on LGBT rights work. The idea that the work I do in the Navy is recognized alongside these amazing people is rewarding, and it’s gratifying to know that I am making a difference,” said Spencer.
Spencer is from Southwest Florida and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance and a Master of Music Degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Florida, then a Master of Music Degree in Voice Performance from Temple University.
He spent several years as a professional musician and voice teacher, singing opera, oratorio, and classical recital repertoire around the U.S. as a lyric tenor before deciding to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming an attorney.
Spencer returned to Temple University to earn a Juris Doctor from the Beasley School of Law, cum laude, in 2015.
While there, he worked as a legal intern for the Navy JAG community in the office of the Force Judge Advocate for Commander, Navy Installations Command. He also worked as a freelance journalist for the NewsWorks division of Philadelphia’s National Public Radio station, WHYY-FM, writing on topics of law, politics, and public policy.
Spencer was commissioned in October 2015 through the JAG community’s Student Program and completed Officer Development School in November of that same year. After completing Naval Justice School in March 2016, he reported to the Region Legal Service Office Mid-Atlantic and Defense Service Office (DSO) Southeast in Norfolk, Va.
During his first tour he served as the Staff Judge Advocate at Naval Air Station Oceana, as well as the Division Officer for the Misdemeanor Division at DSO Southeast. He then reported to Naval Base Guam at Apra Harbor in April 2018 to serve as the Staff Judge Advocate for Commander, Submarine Squadron 15.
2021 was a highly competitive year for this award, with more than 100 nominations from very qualified and passionate young LGBTQ+ attorneys.
“As a JAG, one of my goals was to be able to give back to my community, the LGBT community, throughout my career. It was nice to be recognized for that,” said Spencer.
Spencer is a member of the state bar of Illinois. His personal awards are the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Spencer also added how this recognition is a testament to support from Navy leadership and to the LGBT community.
“The fact that the JAG community knows this award exists, and nominates someone like myself, is a demonstration of the ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion and all points of view. Within the Navy, it shows that leadership values the LGBT community and places high value on the work that is being on done its behalf,” he added.
The honor includes a digital publication that will profile each recipient and their organization, as well as features on social media in the months leading up to the LGBT Bar Association’s 2021 Annual Lavender Law® Conference and Career Fair, taking place in Los Angeles in July, where Spencer will receive the award.
Bravo Zulu, Lt. Spencer!