In March 2011, BLS added an innovative program to its roster of clinics. Taught by then-Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Hennigan, a Major in the Air Force reserve with 12 years of Judge Advocate General (JAG) experience, the Military Legal Practice Clinic provides a foundation in military law to BLS students. “The idea behind the Clinic was to expose students at BLS to a potential career in the military, and to explore the inner workings of the military legal process so that they can be informed citizens when it comes to the military issues being debated in our nation, including military courts, Guantanamo Bay, and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said Hennigan.
But the Clinic quickly accomplished more, becoming a steady pipeline for careers in the JAG Corps. Of the 26 students who have participated in the Clinic since its inception, 15 have received job offers with the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, or National Guard.
“Given the job market, many more law students who would not have otherwise applied for JAG jobs are now throwing their hats in the ring,” said Hennigan, who is now with the General Counsel’s office for Citigroup, where she handles anti-money laundering investigations. “Brooklyn’s Clinic offers students a unique way to differentiate themselves from others. The acceptance rate for our Clinic students is 84 percent. The JAG Corps wants our students because our students understand the military’s core values, they understand its mission, and they have displayed competence in a military environment.”
Military Legal Practice Clinic students work with attorneys from the Department of Defense, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Office of General Counsel for Veterans Affairs. In these placements, students represent the government in a wide range of areas, including labor and employment law, defense contracting, medical malpractice, legal assistance of military members, and family and criminal law. The Clinic also includes a weekly seminar where students receive formal training on federal and military civil and criminal practice.
“The Military Clinic was very informative and exciting,” said Nicholas Cade ’13, who participated in the Clinic during the fall 2011 semester and will be joining the JAG Corps Navy after graduation. “Professor Hennigan is an inspiring teacher, and her seminar helped give me the background knowledge for my JAG application. My Clinic experience also distinguished me from the pack. I feel extraordinarily lucky not only to have a job after graduation, but to have one that is exactly what I want to do.”
“Through the Clinic's seminar, I was able to learn about the experiences of Professor Karen Hennigan and many other guest speakers including former intelligence officers, military judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys,” said Dong-Joo Lee ’13, who will also join the Navy JAG this fall. “I was even able to network with them outside of the classroom setting, and receive guidance and advice throughout my JAG application process.”
Stacy Caplow, the Director of Clinical Education seconds these views. “This clinic adds a truly original dimension to our overall clinical offerings,” she said. “We always try to develop well-constructed and well-taught programs that appeal to the wide-ranging interests and career goals of our students. It’s terrific that this program is not only providing educational value, but also showcasing our students in a highly competitive job market.”