Justin Kman, First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps
Growing up in Chicago as the son of a Polish mother and Chicago-born father, Justin Kman did not imagine that his future would hold a career in law. After attending high school on the city’s South Side, he remained close to home for college, choosing DePaul University, where he studied economics and history.
It was during college that Kman discovered that the law might be the place for him. During his sophomore and junior years, he worked as a legal intern at Kirkland & Ellis and as a congressional economics research fellow for U.S. Senator Herb Kohl. “With no lawyers in my family,” says Kman, “these two experiences provided the spark for law school, primarily because they gave me a first glimpse into two very unique and fast-paced legal environments.”
When it came time to choose a law school, the decision was between BU Law and another Boston-area institution. “Receiving an acceptance letter from BU Law was an amazingly humbling moment,” says Kman, “but I thought I would lean towards the other school because it was my dream choice for undergrad.” Meeting the “extremely welcoming and warm community” at BU Law Admitted Students’ Preview Day after visiting both schools changed his mind, however, and “I left that weekend knowing I would spend my next three years at the tower on Commonwealth Ave.”
In his 1L year, Kman was challenged by, but learned to thrive on, the School’s academic rigor. “The academic struggles pushed me to work harder at honing my legal skills in the field,” he says. “Moreover, I consistently found myself impressed and inspired at the nature of the work being done by my peers. My classmates at BU Law were not only academically gifted, they were professionally motivated. It is this latter trait that continues to drive my progress today.”
Kman certainly had plenty of opportunities during law school to hone his practical legal skills. He spent two summers interning with the JAG Corps, his 1L summer with the Navy, and 2L with the Army.
“The internships solidified my desire to join the JAG Corps after law school,” says Kman. “I had always wanted to serve in the military, and serving as a judge advocate gave me the opportunity to blend in law with military service.”
During his internships, Kman, sought out opportunities to speak with current judge advocates about what it was like to practice military law, something that he says prepared him well for his position. He also credits the Career Development Office with putting him in touch with individuals who had experience with the JAG Corps. “I made sure to get in touch with anyone and everyone who was willing to speak with me. Whether they were currently in the JAG Corps, or had moved on to other positions, every contact I made provided a resource I could use in my job search and beyond.”
In his current position as a first lieutenant in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Kman is finishing up his second phase of training at the JAG Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, VA, where newly commissioned officers attend classes, simulate real world events, and get a chance to practice legal skills in criminal law, administrative law, and operational law, among others.
Having completed the Direct Commission Course, a version of basic training for Army Officers in staff roles, at Fort Benning, Kman will soon head to his first permanent duty station at Fort Huachuca, AZ, where he will serve as special victims’ counsel (SVC), representing victims of sexual assault and acting as a liaison between the victim and the rest of the legal system.
“While I’ve just started my military and legal career,” says Kman, “getting an opportunity to work alongside individuals dedicated to service will certainly be the most rewarding part of this position.”
Kman has a four-year obligation with JAG. “Though I am not sure where I will be after those four years, I can say that I feel extremely fortunate to have been given an opportunity to serve.”
Reported by Sara Womble
April 23, 2014