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Building Networks For Law Student Veterans

July 1, 2016 — Why do veterans make great lawyers? According to Visiting Professor James E. Baker — who spoke at the first-ever T14 conference of law student veterans in Washington, D.C. on June 24 — lawyers and military personnel share the same mission: to uphold and defend the Constitution. Veterans understand how liberty and security intersect. They know how to be professionals. And in a global interdependent world, they are capable of working with a diverse group of people.

For an enlisted service member, completing college or graduate school while serving in the military is an extraordinary accomplishment. “There’s no real civilian comparison,” said Baker, who is the former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and a Marine Corps veteran.  “Unless you took an emergency room nurse, worked them 100 hours a week in the Bellevue ER and told them to get a college degree at the same time.”

Yet law schools and employers may not always understand the advantages of veteran recruiting — which is why Philip Lockwood (L’16), former president of Georgetown Law’s Military Law Society (MLS), wanted to bring student veterans from the country’s top law schools to Washington, D.C., to share ideas and brainstorm solutions. Hosted by the MLS, the two-day event launched the Federation of Law Student Veterans, an initiative to build community, develop diversity and create networks for veterans entering legal practice.

Lockwood — who enlisted in the Canadian army before coming to Georgetown Law for its world-class national security program — wants to ensure a better connection between law student veterans and practicing attorneys. He has served in the military for 11 years, continues to serve as a reservist, and is headed to Clifford Chance in the fall.

“You have this big movement in [law firms] towards the idea of diversity,” Lockwood says. But in general, “if you look for any sort of statement or content about veterans, there’s nothing…our theory is that there’s a lack of effective representation in Big Law. We want to get that on the radar.”

 Some of the key judges in American history, Baker says, had “defining” military experience, including most of the great civil rights judges. Seventy five percent of federal judges serving after World War I and World War II were military veterans; today, there are very few. “There are lots of different forms of diversity,” Baker says. “Are we losing something because of this?”

For media coverage of the conference, click here. 

For a full list of conference panels and participants, click here.

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