Not every externship involves an Army helicopter flight or a Special Forces obstacle course, but that was part of Carolyn Dreer’s externship experience with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) in the summer of 2021.
During her time at Fort Rucker, Alabama, she spent her time between three of the four legal sections of the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate: legal assistance, military justice, and administrative law. Dreer handled a variety of writing assignments related to cases within each section. She took part in legal reviews of investigations, memorandums arguing for a solder’s defense, reviewing witness interviews, and also sat in on several scheduled proceedings.
Dreer took on the daily ‘life’ of an Army JAG, which included participating in morning physical training, also known as PT, and also completing the Army combat fitness test. She said she enjoyed the immersive experience, as she learned what it was truly like to be an Army JAG.
“I was not expecting to have so many opportunities to prepare legal documents. I was given many challenging assignments that I enjoyed working through and it gave me a sampling of the many types of legal areas of the Army. I was expecting that the JAGs would be willing to answer my questions, but I was not fully anticipating the legal of mentorship that I received (during my externship).”
Externships are the best way to figure out if a particular field or environment is right for you, she added.
“In my experience, I have always wanted to be in the military and be a lawyer, but I was a little hesitant with the high level of expectation and dedication the military commands. I figured the best way to figure out if that was the avenue for me was to get a military externship. Once I was there, I knew it was right for me. Additionally, it’s important to try new things and legal fields, because you never know what you might be interested in. Trying different areas of law and different types of organizations can help solidify and narrow down what you want your legal career to look like.”