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National Guard OCS and Law Firm Work?

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  • National Guard OCS and Law Firm Work?


    I have an unusual question for the forum. Iím a rising 2L (law student) at a lower T-14 law school, and Iím considering National Guard service. (My grades are about average, maybe a bit above. Iím pretty sure that I could improve them during my 2L and 3L years). Since I would prefer not to go the JAG route, the Guard would require me to take almost a year of training for a commission. Unfortunately, I hear that many larger and midsized firms wonít touch applicants whoíve spent time in non-legal jobs like consulting, and I worry that military training would create the same problem, or worse.

    This leaves me with a dilemma. I really do want to serve, but I havenít heard about many lawyers who have managed to maintain legal careers at the same time that they fulfill National Guard or Reserve duties. Would attending Officer Candidate School between the end of my 3L year and the beginning of my first job destroy my career prospects? (In that scenario, I'm not sure if I could ask my 2L summer employer for a year-long extension, or if I would have to look for post-OCS work during my 3L year).

    Alternatively, would taking a gap year between 2L and 3L year -- if possible -- cause the same problem?

    Are either of these options viable? Iíve done as much research as I could, but I havenít located too much information about lawyers in the Guard. Where do I go from here? If I choose to proceed, how should I prepare for my job search? What extra steps should I take?

    (Incidentally, I have the strongest geographic ties to Pennsylvania and New York, but if other options are available I would be willing to move.)

    Thanks for your time, everyone.

  • #2
    Re: National Guard OCS and Law Firm Work?

    I recommend taking a break from law school entirely, and complete all the training. Maintaining a Guard career is far more do-able than completing OCS and BOLC in the middle of law school. When you've completed the training, you can draw tuition assistance to help defray law school's expenses, which should reduce your stress level when you get back in.


    • #3
      Re: National Guard OCS and Law Firm Work?

      First off, check with your school to see if you can even leave for military duty and be readmitted. There is no legal protection in this area.

      Second, go to Several of the officers there are lawyers who have done active and reserve time.


      • #4
        Re: National Guard OCS and Law Firm Work?

        Three years is long enough, I would not delay finishing law school and passing the Bar if it can be helped. And summers are when law students actually learn the law and are invaluable to law students.

        I have not seen any downside for a person having non-legal employment when applying to law firms and in some instances it can be a big benefit (i.e an RN doing medical malpractice)

        The legal job market right now really stinks! There is 50% unemployment for new grads, even from good schools. As an aside, unless you have great grades, a huge client base, or are connected there is little chance that anyone from a T-4 school is going to get into a large firm. Sorry for the bad news.

        Don't know about JAG and private practice, but hope to find out after I submit my application in the next few months.


        • #5
          Re: National Guard OCS and Law Firm Work?

          Hello. Thank you all for your advice so far. Just a quick clarification in response to Bmac’s post: I’m at a lower T-14 school (“top 14”) school (e.g. Cornell, Georgetown, Northwestern), not a Tier 4.