Thursday September 14, 2017

Finding The Right Path

A look at the experience that could forever change your career in the law.

Jacob Stephens always knew the law was for him.

“When I was a kid you’d hear the fanciful notion, you want to be a doctor or you want to be a lawyer,” Stephens, a 3L, says. “I think I settled on the lawyer decision,”

There was only one problem.

“After coming to law school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do upon graduating,” Stephens says.

But a summer externship changed all that.

“It’s an experience I’m very grateful for,” Stephens says.

Stephens found his focus in a field known for providing direction…the military.

He did his externship at nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base with the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.

“One of the things that benefited me the most about being with the Air Force JAG Corps is the breadth of experiences I was able to have while there,” Stephens says of his externship.

During his semester at the base, Stephens got to work on government contracting, patent law, court-martials and fraud issues among other things.

“It helped me attain more knowledge and experience of what it is a lawyer truly does in a variety of areas,” Stephens says.

Professor of Externships Denise Platfoot Lacey says what’s great about the externship program at the School of Law is the insight it can give students when it comes to deciding on what they want to do with their law degree.

“By the end of the semester you see students feeling like, this is for me,” Platfoot Lacey says. “I can do this. I want to do this.”

That can be the case even if they go into their externship, like Stephens did, not knowing what career path they want to take.

“Sometimes people do something that they don’t think they want to do long term and they realize it’s something they enjoy and they have a knack for it,” Platfoot Lacey says.

Now when people ask Stephens what he wants to do, he doesn’t just say be a lawyer. He knows exactly what kind of lawyer.

Stephens says he’s filing an application for direct appointment to the JAG corps right after graduation.

“I know there is really nothing else I want to do,” Stephens says.

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