Thanks to Mustang Lt. W for answering our questions about the transition from enlisted Marine to a law candidate at OCS.
Can you walk us through Law Candidates process/difference in applying for OCS?
Applying for a law contract at OCS is just as easy as applying for a ground contract, but you will just have to show proof of a 150 LSAT or above to your application package.
How is the culture shift different?
Officer Candidates School is not anything like law school or the rest of the Marine Corps, so getting into the right mindset to be a good candidate is important. The differences between enlisted recruit training and OCS were huge. OCS is a place where constantly thinking critically about everything from the tasks assigned to the general interactions with other candidates is very important.
What habits did you have to break?
I had to get back to the mindset of putting others first. Especially with a wife at home and being a law student, I had been always thinking about keeping her and my priorities first. At OCS, and also as a Marine Corps officer in general, it’s much more important to make sure that all other people are taken care of before yourself (even the ones you may not like) or even making sure your close friends or family are taken care of.
How was your transition back to the schoolhouse after OCS graduation?
Since I went back to school, I had to remember that I was no longer surrounded by the like-minded motivated individuals I became friends with at OCS. Especially as a law student, it’s important to remember the community that you’re going back to is not necessarily friendly to your newfound point of views. I’m sure any law student coming from the heavily liberal law student community knows exactly what I’m referring to.
Marine Judge Advocate – Law Candidate
Lawyers within the Marine Corps are not the same as JAG members in different branches. There is no “JAG” Corps within the Marine Corps as there is in the other branches. This difference is mainly training based. JAG Corps members in other branches often go through very simple military training in direct-commission programs. This usually entails some basic customs and courtesies, PT, extremely tame physical training regimens, and how to wear a uniform, etc. Marine Judge Advocates (often referred to as “JAGs” by laymen who do not really know the difference) are unrestricted line officers who go through the same initial training (OCS and TBS) as all other officers in the Marine Corps. If you want to be a lawyer in the Marine Corps, leading Marines should be as much if not more of a priority to you as being a lawyer.
If you just want to get a military law job so you can pad your resume on your way to some “Big Law” firm or a cushy government job, go elsewhere because the Marine Corps is NOT for you, and I can personally tell you I do not want you to be a part of my beloved corps.
How do law spotlight themselves?
Law candidates can spotlight themselves when their true reasons for wanting to be there come out. If you are at OCS for yourself because you know that a few years as a lawyer in the Marine Corps will do wonders for your resume, the instructors will find that out through your attitude and conduct, and hopefully, they will get rid of you or make you quit.
What cultural shifts did you notice from law school to OCS?
Law school is a place where people’s feelings and beliefs are very important. The Marine Corps is not. The only feelings you should feel at OCS are desires to help your fellow candidates, give your best efforts during training events, and a desire to prove your potential to lead Marines.
What are the most challenging aspects for a law candidate?
The largest challenges for a law candidate would be the desire to stand out and be special. The only things that should set you apart at OCS are your leadership abilities, great PT, and willingness to help those around you. Nobody cares where you go to law school or what your dad does or did.
Are there things you learned as a law candidate that you don’t think you would have learned as a regular candidate?
Only that most law candidates are there for the wrong reasons.