PRAISING OUR JAGS There is a parallel legal system operating in this country and around the world. This system has its own courts, its own judges, paralegals, and litigators, and in some instances, its own body of law. There are transactional lawyers, real estate lawyers, and others operating in a multitude of specialties in this legal realm. All of these professionals are paid from the same source, so in a sense it could be said they make up one of the largest law firms in the world. In fact, it is the oldest law firm in the United States. The U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps was founded by George Washington on July 29, 1775, with the appointment of William Tudor as the first judge advocate general. The Navy JAG was authorized by Congress five years later. Thereafter JAGs were established in the Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marines. In addition to serving our country in a branch of the military, these devoted men and women are serving the justice system in every sense of that concept. It is fitting that we, as lawyers, celebrate and honor the careers of these members of our profession. There are a number of pathways to entering the JAGs in each branch of service. Most have an age cap, graduation from an accredited law school, admission to the bar in a U.S. state or territory, and the ability to pass a medical exam and go through basic training. There are opportunities to join the JAG before, during, and after law school. There are internships, externships, and a generous student loan repayment program available. Once those hurdles are jumped, the career path of a JAG has tremendous travel and practice opportunity. The venue possibility is worldwide and the areas of law include criminal, environmental, government contracts, labor, medical, and international. There are about 300 Army JAG officers serving in Texas today and more in the other service branches. The average active-duty JAG serves about eight years, many continue as a reserve for years afterward. When we celebrate Veterans Day and contemplate the service and sacrifice of our service members, pause to think as well of those who are our fellow lawyers. Many have made a career both in service to our country and our profession. They are most worthy of our praise and gratitude. TOM VICK President, State Bar of Texas
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