The Fiscal Year 2018 Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps In-Service Procurement Program (IPP) selection board met in February to consider 24 highly qualified applicants and selected Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Thaddeus H. Tate Jr., Office of Naval Intelligence.
The board used the “whole person” concept to identify those applicants with the greatest potential for successful service as a Navy judge advocate.
“Initially, I was in a state of sustained disbelief and joy," said Tate. "My disbelief was not broken until my JAG mentor Lt. Cmdr. Lena Whitehead screeched congratulations to me. I told my wife the good news replaying the conversation in my head hoping I had not misheard. In the end, I feel pure unbridled joy and excitement for the future."
Tate, a native of New Orleans, La., enlisted in the Navy in 2009 and began his career after Navy-Marine Corps Intelligence Training as an Explosives Intelligence Analyst at Commander, Explosive Ordnance Group Two. Since 2016 he has been attached to Chief of Naval Operations Intelligence Plot as the Production Shop Leading Petty Officer. In 2015, Tate earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science from Troy University and is currently pursuing a Juris Doctorate at George Mason University School of Law. He received the OPNAV Staff Senior Sailor of the Quarter for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017.
“I decided to apply to the program because I have long felt drawn to law and believe my life would be incomplete if I did not practice law," said Tate. "I was drawn to the JAG Corp because I did not want my success as a lawyer to be measured by my billable hours, but the good I could do."
Tate began working on his package during the summer of 2017. He completed the officer application and put all the documents in a binder with placeholders and replaced the documents as they came in. For letter of recommendation, he asked what can this person say about me to capture the desired traits of a candidate for the JAG Corps. To prepare for the LSAT, he took a preparation course, recommended by a colleague and also took practice exams frequently and in noisy places.
The JAG Corps IPP provides both funded and unfunded paths to JAG Corps commissions. Sailors who have earned a baccalaureate degree may apply for funded legal education; Sailors who have already earned a Juris Doctor degree from an American Bar Association accredited law school and a bar license from any U.S. state or territory, Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia may apply for direct commission.
This summer, Tate will be attending a course taught by Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and will continue studying at George Mason School of Law as a full-time student. The JAG Corps IPP is open to active-duty enlisted personnel and Navy full-time support personnel, in any rating or military occupational specialty, in pay grades E-5 through E-7 with at least two years and not more than 10 years of service at the time of application. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and under the age of 42 by the time of commissioning.
To succeed in the application process,
Tate offers some advice.
- Never surrender. Find solutions to any challenge you face during the process. My package faced several bumps.
- Make it hard for them to say no. Do things within your power to improve yourself and make yourself the best candidate possible
- Find a mentor. Unless you are already in the Navy’s legal community you can benefit from someone with insight into the process.
- Do an internship/OJT. This provides an opportunity to work closely with JAGs and get hands-on experience with the work. During my internship with Cyber, Information Operations & Intelligence Law (Code 18), the legal questions were always interesting and at times challenged my skills as a researcher and analyst. As a person who has sought the support of JAGs to deal with landlord-tenant issues, I know JAGs are an invaluable resource for Sailors.
- Get your command involved. Your name may be on the package but your command is sending it. Make them aware of your goals early and a part of the conversation as to how you will reach the goal.
Complete application procedures and education requirements can be found in the “Careers” section of the JAG Corps Web site