Recent Grad Megan Robinson Commits to JAG Corps
For Megan Tonner Robinson, waiting for her bar exam results has been especially stressful. You see, passing the bar is the last step on the road she has travelled for the past year preparing to join the US Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.
Originally from Hamilton, Ohio, Robinson ’10 completed her undergraduate studies at Miami University, where she majored in English and History. She took a year off after finishing undergrad in which she was “figuring out what to do with life.” She eventually settled on applying to law school. “I wanted more education,” said Robinson, “and I feel that a law degree is very versatile and that I can do a lot of good with it.” She chose the College of Law because she wanted to stay in Ohio for tuition purposes, and UC was conveniently close by. “It was great that there happened to be a good quality law school close enough that I could commute,” she said.
During her first summer in law school, Robinson worked as a fellow with the Ohio Innocence Project. “I really liked the experience,” she said. “I’m really interested in criminal law, and I was able to learn a lot about it that way. Plus, one of my friends from law school was my partner from OIP. I really enjoyed everything about it.” In particular, Robinson enjoyed having the opportunity to be a part of every step of investigating cases, including talking to inmates. She also enjoyed the relationships she was able to build during the experience, not just with the other fellows but also the close connection the fellows had with their supervising attorneys.
Getting A Taste of the Military
During her second summer, Robinson interned at the Polk Air Force base in North Carolina. Robinson knew when she entered law school that she wanted to be a prosecutor, and as she progressed through law school she became more and more interested in joining the military after graduating. “I knew it was possible to be a prosecutor in the military,” she said, “in addition to being able to experience other kinds of law in addition to criminal law. The internship was a good way to see if I would like to be in the military after graduation.” Robinson stated that the attorneys with whom she worked this summer made considerable efforts to show her what the job of a JAG is really like, allowing her to sit in on cases in court in addition to researching various issues in the cases. She was also able to experience several areas of law in addition to criminal law, such as white collar crime, real estate, and torts. The experience was very positive, she said, and helped solidify her decision to become a JAG.
There were several factors that contributed to Robinson’s decision to become a JAG. First, she commented, there had always been the possibility that she would join the military, particularly because both of her parents were in the Marines. Second, serving in the JAG Corps would provide her with the ability to use her education and degree to make a difference and help others, which had been an important consideration in her decision to come to law school. Third, the equal work/life balance in the military was another important consideration.
In August of 2009, after completing her internship and deciding she wanted to continue in the Air Force after graduation, Robinson applied to the USAF JAG Corps. After she was accepted, she had to complete a medical exam; the last stage of the process is passing the bar exam. She will find out the results of the exam on October 29, 2010, and when she lets the Air Force know that she passed, they will tell her where she will be stationed. “That’s really the point of no return,” said Robinson. “At that point, I technically could decide not to become a JAG—but that’s not going to happen.” After accepting the position, Robinson will go off to Officer Candidate School sometime between January and March. When she accepts a position with the JAG Corps, Robinson will be committing herself to the program for at least four years. She will be assigned to a particular department to practice a particular area of law, although she will likely begin with military justice.
Waiting for Word
As of now, Robinson has no idea where she will be stationed. “I got to submit a list of preferences for where I would like to be, but where people get stationed depends on a lot of factors,” she said. “My top choice is Dayton, because my husband and I have a house here, and my second choice is anywhere around the D.C. area.” Robinson said that both she and her husband are excited to find out where she will be stationed: “He’s probably less apprehensive about that part than I am,” she noted, “but we both look at it as an adventure.”
Robinson also acknowledged that there is a possibility that she will be stationed overseas at some point. “When I was interviewing, they basically told me, ‘if you’re signing up for the military at this point in time, you’re doing so with the knowledge that you’re going overseas at some point,’ so I look at it as a certainty.”
Because she cannot definitively accept her position until after the bar results are in, Robinson is basically playing a waiting game for now. “I’m looking at this as my last summer vacation,” she said. “Summer was not fun; I was studying for the bar, so it was hardly ‘summer’ in the traditional sense at all. So I’m using this time to go on some vacations”—she recently took a cruise to celebrate the fact that bar exam and law school were over. She also took a separate trip to New York City, and has another trip planned for next month. “I’m spending time with friends and loved ones. I’m just appreciating this time, because I literally don’t know where I’ll be in six months.”