The Marines’ official motto is “Semper Fidelis,” or “Always Faithful.” This institution is built on the concept of dedication to oneself and others, even in the face of hardships and setbacks.
In the legal profession, this dedication to the task at hand is paramount in success. Because the legal system is imperfect; it needs lawyers who are aggressive in the pursuit of justice but empathetic and compassionate enough to work with all types of clients.
For any former military member, a career in law is an excellent path to explore. Combining the organization, commitment, and grit of service with the day-to-day obstacles in civilian life; law is an opportunity to remain steadfast in the path that is paved during military training and active duty.
Military Experience in the Legal Profession
Service in the military develops essential skills that are beneficial in many career paths. Repeated exposure to pain, scrutiny, and obstacles—both physical and mental—in the military prepares individuals to handle the ups and downs of the law school experience.
Service in the Marines also creates the discipline and perseverance needed to overcome flaws within the legal system itself. Through its focus on character-building, the military lays the groundwork for a talented pool of potential lawyers with the moral code and grit needed to succeed in law.
Here are some of the top reasons why former Marines or military members make excellent lawyers:
- They are well-organized individuals who will be able to keep a schedule and manage cases efficiently.
- Marines are used to wearing many hats as both soldiers and humanitarians. Like lawyers, they can be both empathetic and ruthless in pursuit of a desired outcome.
- The Marines’ mindset is purpose-driven, which allows them to keep the client as the focus of everything they do.
- Military members can adapt to changing circumstances, just as lawyers need to do throughout the course of a case or settlement.
- They are trained to think strategically and determined to achieve their mission. Because lawyers have so many tasks, dates, and details to keep track of; they also must be strategic with their time and resources to be successful.
The transition between service and civilian life can be difficult, but the legal profession utilizes many of the skills that Marines gain during their training and active duty. These individuals have character qualities and experiences that will help them work their way through law school, as well.
More than ever, the legal system needs lawyers with integrity, who are willing to put the law above their own personal needs. In that sense, the Marines’ fighting spirit—which is directed towards protecting domestic freedom—can be redirected towards protecting individual rights.
With the right guidance, education, and resources, former military members can become successful lawyers capable of making a difference.
Resources for Post-Military Legal Professionals
Military members may need additional support and guidance following their transition out of roles within the Armed Forces. There are many types of assistance for former Marines looking to study law. A good starting place is the American Bar Association’s (ABA) online resource for providing training and guidance to transitioning military members. It includes information on topics like:
- Writing effective résumés and cover letters
- Interviewing for jobs or university slots
- Networking within the legal industry
While these may seem commonplace, they are effective tools for helping Marines adjust to civilian work environments. The corporate world does benefit from the skills and qualities of military members, but it does have its own set of rules and communication methods that are oftentimes difficult to adjust to.
For any military members looking to transition into a legal profession, there are also several networking groups that provide resources. These include:
Building a network of legal professionals is one of the best ways to prepare for law school and a career as a lawyer. The experiences that Marines have while on active duty become the basis for how they react, adapt, and function in the civilian world. Similarly, the past experiences that seasoned lawyers have can be invaluable resources for incoming professionals.
The study and practice of law requires a level of discipline and dedication that many other professions do not offer. Because military members possess these essential character traits and useful leadership skills, they are excellent candidates for professional legal services.
Obstacles and setbacks that arise during law school will pale in comparison to any training, combat, or crisis-management experiences that military members experience during active duty. By tapping into professional networks and harnessing the skills learned in the military, these individuals will build successful legal careers.
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