Last month, the Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps named the 2022 In-Service Procurement Program (IPP) selectees – Yeoman 1st Class Christopher Garnow and Legalman 2nd Class Tanya Selvage.
Established in 2013, IPP competitively selects Fleet Sailors for a funded law degree and a JAG Corps commissioning path, similar to what the organization’s longstanding Law Education Program offers line officers.
This year’s IPP Selection Board met in March to consider 18 highly qualified applicants. It used a whole-person concept – fully considering each applicant, and not their specific skills and achievements – to select people with the greatest potential for successful service as a Navy judge advocate. Noteworthy to this year’s board, a Senior Enlisted Leader, Master Chief Legalman Renate Pryor, served as a recorder.
“It took about a day or two for the news to sink in,” said Garnow. “My family and I are extremely excited and grateful for this opportunity. A lot of work went into the IPP package and the law school application processes, and I had a lot of help and guidance along the way, which ultimately led to my selection. I am just thankful for everyone who has supported me throughout the process. I am eager to start law school and am ready to work hard to ensure the time everyone invested in helping me out throughout the process was well invested.”
Garnow enlisted in the Navy in 2017. He currently serves as the Leading Petty Officer for the Administrative Department at the U.S. Naval Academy. From 2017 to 2019, he served as Executive Yeoman for Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight. Garnow holds a bachelor of arts degree in Sociology and an associate of arts degree in Criminology from The Ohio State University, as well as a professional certificate in Paralegal Studies from Capital University. Additionally, Garnow currently is taking evening classes in pursuit of a master of business administration degree, and he also serves as the Leading/Training Petty Officer for the U.S. Naval Academy Honors Detail.
Since completing his undergraduate degree, Garnow has had his sights on law school.
“When I joined the Navy in 2017, I thought I would do four years and get out with G.I. Bill benefits, which would assist me in achieving that goal,” said Garnow. “What I had not anticipated was how much I would truly enjoy serving in the Navy. The outstanding Sailors I have been privileged to serve alongside, and the unique work experiences I have been provided both at sea and ashore, really cemented my decision to make the Navy a career.”
Garnow learned about IPP during his second year in the Navy, well before he met the time-in-service requirement to apply. He said the program presented a great opportunity to live out his dream of a legal career while continuing to serve within an organization about which he was passionate.
“I have interacted with a lot of JAG Corps officers throughout this process, and the constant theme echoed in every discussion was the professionalism and competence displayed by those in the Navy’s legal community,” said Garnow. “I am looking forward to working with those individuals and having the opportunity to advocate for and have a positive impact on fellow Sailors.”
Garnow currently is working with the JAG Corps to select a law school and hopes to attend one of his top two choices in the D.C. metropolitan area.
“I value the relationships that I have been fortunate to develop at my current command, and I would like to stay close to those mentors and resources,” said Garnow. “I believe this would be a huge benefit as I make my way through law school and prepare to commission afterward. I plan to spend my remaining time at the Naval Academy soaking in as much knowledge about law school and what it takes to be a successful first-tour officer from current JAG Corps officers on the Yard.”
Selvage, who currently serves as a Trial Paralegal at Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) Southwest, enlisted in the Navy in 2016. From 2016 to 2018, she served as a Deck Seaman onboard USS Shoup (DDG 86). Selvage holds a bachelor of arts degree in Political Science from Southwest Minnesota State University. She served as the sole paralegal and primary evidence custodian for the 2020 investigation of fire onboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). She also is the Command Ombudsman to RLSO Southwest and Defense Service Office West.
“I joined the Navy hoping to become a judge advocate,” said Selvage. “I took a huge gamble joining without a rating, but I had faith it would work out if I remained focused. There were many times I wanted to give up, but I met some incredible people who encouraged me to apply. I am looking forward to working with a group of individuals who are drawn together by the common purpose of serving others. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to become an attorney. Being able to practice law with a sense of purpose that is aligned to serving the greater good is a noble ambition and the JAG Corps is giving me the tools to do so while traveling the world. I can’t imagine a higher honor or a better job.”
Selvage will attend law school this fall at American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C.
“Petty Officer Selvage was my student at Naval Justice School, and, the moment she walked in the classroom, I knew she would soar,” said Master Chief Legalman Brook Larkins, who currently serves as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the JAG and Senior Enlisted Leader at Naval Legal Service Command. “She is a driven, focused, and very humble leader. I look forward to watching her continue to grow as an officer.”
THE IPP PROCESS
How did you prepare your IPP package?
Garnow: Proper time management and planning were essential. From mid-summer until November, I really prioritized LSAT (Law School Admission Test) prep and law school applications. I drew a lot from my law school personal statements and “Why ‘X’ Law School?” statements to draft my OPNAV 1420/1 personal statement and JAGC career statement. There are items on the IPP checklist that I planned well in advance, including the medical screening, command board, and JAGC structured interview. Additionally, I coordinated my letters of recommendation for law school and the IPP package in the summer before the admissions cycle. Working in administration, I was a stickler about ensuring my package was properly organized and labeled, making it easy to follow for the reviewers. I submitted everything earlier than the deadline, just in case there were any issues with transmission or readability.
Selvage: I worked on my package little by little each evening (and every weekend) over a four-month period. I had many people review my essays and I followed every letter of the instruction when it came to assembly. I even reached out to former selectees for an extra set of eyes and routed my package through my immediate chain of command and mentors for additional review. After that, I double checked it again! Putting this package together taught me a lot about how important it is to maintain my personal administrative records.
How did you study for the LSAT?
Garnow: Last June, I started by completing a diagnostic test to get a baseline score and gauge my strengths and weaknesses. There are some great, free resources on the internet. I used LSAT Demon to drill a lot. Of course, you can spend the money on additional features and question sets. I watched a lot of lessons on YouTube, which broke down the test to question types with which I had difficulty. I did a lot of timed drilling and tried to complete one timed test per week. I spent a lot of time practicing logic games because I felt it was the section in which I could make the biggest strides in a relatively short period. I would advise anyone taking the LSAT to get comfortable with timed drilling/test-taking.
Selvage: I was TAD (Temporary Assigned Duty) to a major command investigation when studying for the LSAT and was working an average of 70-80 hours per week. Based on my learning style, I felt that a prep course would provide me with the structure I needed to prepare for the test. The class met each Sunday over a three-month period. I was able to work out a schedule with my chain of command that allowed me to attend class and study in the evenings after work.
What advice or tips do you have for Sailors considering applying to the IPP?
Garnow: Get an early start! Do not wait until the program announcement comes out in August or September to begin putting your package together. If law school is something you really want to do, start studying and plan to knock the LSAT out early. This will allow enough time for a retake if necessary. Get your chain of command involved and make them aware of your goals, you may be surprised by how much support you get. Reach out to past selectees/applicants for package tips and tricks.
Selvage: I encourage all enlisted personnel who have aspirations of becoming a judge advocate to apply for this program. I also would say that while it is great to have ambition, it is important to recognize the steps it takes to achieve every level of success. I challenge those considering this program to become an expert at your craft, ask for help when you need it, take pride in what you do and give back to your command and community. It is a great thing when your superiors can positively endorse you for something like this based on your proven performance and work ethic.
For more details about IPP, eligibility criteria, and application procedures, please visit www.jag.navy.mil.