2L Ben Rogers Got a Taste of Navy Life as a JAG Summer Intern
2L Ben Rogers spent the summer as an intern for the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He was detailed to Defense Service Office West at Naval Base San Diego in California — the busiest defense office in the Navy. DSO West provides legal representation to military service members at courts martial, boards of inquiry, and administrative separation boards.
Could you describe a little bit about your summer experience working as an intern in the Navy JAG Corps?
JAG Defense work runs the gamut from providing individualized advice on defense-related topics to trial advocacy for service members facing life in the brig for war crimes, murder, or other serious offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
How did you become interested in being a Navy JAG?
Professor Jon Lee’s Army JAG experience got the gears turning. In the wake of my grandfather’s 23-year career in the Navy, I always desired to serve. However, nuclear reactors and submarine operations never seemed a logical fit for my skills. The moment I realized that the JAG Corps offered a place for me to make an intuitive and substantive contribution to the Navy as an attorney was ambition altering.
What did you do on a typical day?
The Navy makes a serious effort to get JAG interns out from behind the desk and in the field to truly experience the full scope of military operations. Some days were purely legal; among other things, I provided legal analysis and case strategies, wrote trial motions, and observed a high-profile Navy SEAL trial from the gallery. Other activities were experiential. I participated in weekly command physical training, got two hours in a helicopter simulator, toured submarines, aircraft carriers, destroyers, and helicopter squadrons, and much more.
What are a couple of your key takeaways from the experience?
“Ship, Shipmate, Self.” The Navy is a team sport. The JAG Corps is no different. If you’re willing to work as part of a team, be moved where you’re needed, and have a different-looking legal job today than in two years, it will be an incredibly rewarding, comfortable, and work-life-friendly adventure.
How did your summer experience compare with your expectations?
I was surprised with how often I was out “experiencing” the Navy rather than doing legal grunt-work in my office. I was thankful for a nice break from the daily grind of 1L year and simultaneously wished that I had spent more time engaging directly with cases.
What advice would you offer another law student thinking about spending a summer with the JAG Corps?
If you’re seriously interested, you should absolutely apply for the internship. You will likely need to leave Minneapolis for the summer, but there is no better way to learn about one of the coolest, less-talked-about legal career paths out there.