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Alternative Prospectives on Lawyers and the Law

November 24, 2011

“The success of science depends on an apparatus of democratic adjudication—anonymous peer review, open debate, the fact that a graduate student can criticize a tenured professor. These mechanisms are more or less explicitly de-signed to counter human self-deception. People always think they’re right, and powerful people will tend to use their authority to bolster their prestige and suppress inconvenient opposition. You try to set up the game of science so that the truth will out despite this ugly side of human nature.” – Steven Pinker as quoted in Mooney, C. (2005). The Repub-lican War on Science. Cambridge, MA.: Basic Books. 

Every month I provide an unedited perspective that is aimed to bolster an understanding of different experiences by those engaged in a variety of industries.  Here is one of those perspectives.


Occupation and Job Title:

Judge Advocate General (JAG), Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base North Carolina

How many years of experience do you have on the job or in this field?

7 years total federal active duty service as a Captain in the USAF, and am currently at my first assignment as a JAG.

What are your major job responsibilities?

I am assigned to the General Law section, responsible for coordinating Administrative Law, Civil Law, and Government Contract Law issues, as well as, assisting with Legal Readiness and Operations Law issues. One of my more important roles as a JAG is to provide free Legal Assistance to military members and their families.  Legal Assistance includes preparing wills, powers of attorney and counseling our mem-bers on subjects including Family Law, Taxes, Real Estate Transactions, Landlord and Tenant Relations, Debtor-Creditor Rights, Adoption and Citizenship.

How does the law and/or the legal system effect your daily job functions?

As a Judge Advocate General (JAG), the legal system has a daily impact on my job in a variety of ways.  The JAG Corps offers an unmatched diversity of prac-tice as we provide a full range of legal services to our clients. Being assigned to the Air Combat Command, our instal-lations mission further dictates the need to be prepared for any Operations Law and Legal Readiness issues which may arise during an evolving operations tempo.

Do you have an experience where you felt the law or the legal system has been a benefit or a detriment to your work?

The legal system has been a benefit to my work as both a JAG and military officer. I have witnessed first-hand the positive effects our legal assistance has provided to our military members and their families ranging from deploy-ment preparedness to family law concerns.  The law also plays a very important role in the day to day operations of an Air Force Base.  Legal reviews of Government Contracts and Civil Law issues are a day to day task in addition to the legal counsel we provide to Commanders on a daily basis to handle personnel issues and maintain our prepared-ness to meet our operational mission requirements. Military Justice (Criminal Law) is the JAG Corps largest practice area.  When an active-duty Air Force member is accused of wrongdoing, we ensure that justice is served while ensur-ing constitutional rights are being protected. 

What is your perspective as to what an attorney does?

An attorney is a Leader, a Counselor and a specific to my position, an attorney is also a Military Officer.

What is your definition of Justice?

Justice is upholding the laws that govern our society while ensuring that Constitu-tional rights are protected.
Are there any other viewpoints or anecdotes that you can share with us? I am proud and fortunate to serve in the practice of law with the dual role of being an attorney and an officer in the United States Air Force.  During my career I will be able gain expertise in a wide range of areas in the practice of law while serving my country, which creates a unique professional experience and way of life. I am held to the highest standard of performance, conduct and char-acter and welcome every opportunity to serve and protect the legal interests of our military members, their families, and the United States Air Force.