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Podcast: Transitioning from Military Law to Civilian Practice

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Jack Rives
ABA Executive Director Jack Rives talks with Sandy Gallant-Jones while recording a podcast at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

In this episode of the ABA Law Student Podcast, host Sandy Gallant-Jones speaks with General Jack Rives, executive director of the American Bar Association, about his career as a military lawyer, his transition to civilian life, and his current role within the ABA.

Jack reminisces about his passion for the legal profession from an early age, his undergraduate time at The University of Georgia on a Reserve Officers Training Corps Scholarship, and shares that he originally only planned to spend four years in the Air Force. After an educational delay that allowed him to attend law school, he entered the military as a judge advocate general (JAG). Jack provides a breakdown of the various occupational and travel opportunities that changed his initial plans and led to a 33 year long career as a military lawyer.

He provides insight into the personal values, such as integrity, strong work ethic, and service that aided him in becoming the first military lawyer to ever achieve the rank of three star general and emphasizes how these values are necessary for the success of every attorney. Jack takes time to commend veterans who are pursuing law degrees, discusses ways that law schools can better support these particular students, and talks about his journey transitioning from the military to civilian practice and his work with the ABA.

He closes the interview with tips for law students on how to manage the stress and demand of their studies and the many benefits that joining The American Bar Association can have on their flourishing careers.

Jack RivesGeneral Jack Rives is originally from Rockmart, Georgia. Upon graduating from the University of Georgia School of Law, he began a 33-year career in the United States Air Force as a judge advocate general (JAG) where he became the first military attorney to attain the three-star rank of lieutenant general. During his time in service, General Rives led 2,600 lawyers and was awarded both the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster and Defense Superior Service Medal.

ABA Law Student Division The Law Student Division empowers law student by providing them with meaningful connections to practicing professionals, job resources, relevant programming, and practical skills competitions. We represent the law student community by advocating for policies that improve legal education, champion diversity, and strengthen public service.