Let me start by being straight with you: the Marine Corps is not for everyone.
The culture and challenges you will face will be harder than any other JAG branch, if you are not dead set on being a Marine then don’t even bother showing up.
When I went to law school I knew I was interested in joining the military, but I did not know JAGS existed, and no I had never seen A Few Good Men. My dad was the one who mentioned it and I started looking into the programs.
Thankfully where I went to law school brought each branch onto campus to do a presentation and a Q and A. By the time they came to campus I had already decided it was either Marines or Navy for me. I wanted to be near water and was not interested in the Coast Guard. I knew that getting into the Navy is harder academically, but I was in the top half of a top 50 law school. I also knew that getting myself into Marine physical fitness shape was going to take some serious time.
After attending the presentations, I knew it was the Marines or nothing for me. Just on logistics, the Marines let you get involved sooner. The Navy, you do not go to Office Candidate School until after you have taken and passed the bar. You do not commission until after Officer Candidate School, which is after law school. With the Marines, you can go to OCS prior to your 1L year if you are really on top of it. I went between my 1L and 2L year and commissioned directly after. After you commission, you fall into the reserve category until you pass the bar and attend TBS. However, you are earning time in service while you are in law school. Therefore, you will rank up shortly after law school to 1stLt depending on when you go to OCS.
That was the basic reason why I was drawn to the Marines. Other logistic ones included concerned the bases: they are all near water and you can still end up at a Naval base. The interview process is a bit easier than the Navy one, my interview was only one question, “why do you want to be a Marine Corps Officer?” compared to friends who have sat for Navy and Air Force interviews that were 2-3 hours long. The important part of the Marine interview process is your application and PFT scores, those are what get you selected to attend OCS.
However, even after all of that, the main reason I joined the Marines over any other branch, it was the challenge and the culture.
Marines have the hardest PFT standards, and they make the females do the pull-ups which I liked even more. My OSO has an amazing set-up they do weekly PTs and the candidates would do our own PT every other day. So, every day, I had people to push me harder than I ever have before. Finally, they are the only branch where you are a military member first and then a JAG. Every other branch, you are just a JAG, you are separated from the others. In the Marines, you are a Marine first and then you are a JAG. Every Marine is a rifleman and you will learn that. If the Marines need you to be in another position besides a JAG, you are able to be because the good of the Marine Corps comes before you just being a JAG. If you want to just be a JAG in the branch you are in, then the Marines are not it for you.
The Marines will push you, my first day of Office PT I questioned why I was there. It is acceptable to question and ask yourself if this is really for you because the Marines only want people who want to be there. They are going to make you a Marine. At OCS they will test your limits and see if you can be a leader that they need you to be, at TBS they will teach you how to be that leader. If you want to serve in the nation’s most revered fighting force then the Marines is absolutely the choice. If you are not completely motivated on becoming a Marne Corps Officer, then realize that now and research the other branches. If after all of this, you are still dedicated to that path, go find your nearest OSO. Remember, few can be Marines, but even fewer can lead them and that decision is up to you.
Thank you to Lt B for your guest contribution!