Student Commits to Serving Country as Military Lawyer

UM law student Paul Hutton (second from left) completed an internship with the U.S. Army JAG Corps in Germany.
Hutton gets instruction as he fires a M240 machine gun.
Hutton fires an M240 machine gun.

By Lily Soper, UM News Service

MISSOULA – University of Montana law student Paul Hutton grew up with two primary goals: to become a lawyer and to serve his country. When offered a 2022 summer internship in Germany with the U.S. Army JAG Corps, it was beyond a no-brainer.

“The opportunity to fulfill two lifelong aspirations of mine – serving my country and becoming a legal professional – has been a dream come true,” said Hutton, a third-year law student and president of UM’s Student Bar Association. “They truly treat you like a captain, the rank you commission as.”

The Judge Advocate General’s Corps defends the Army and its soldiers in all legal matters. Although the JAG Corps internship primarily focuses on law, interns also are officers in the military and encouraged to immerse themselves in the culture and opportunities offered, Hutton said.

That means the ability to attend 6:30 a.m. jump school with the 82nd Airborne Division or even Ranger School. Additionally, Hutton and other interns shot M240 machine guns, rode in Humvees, toured a NATO training facility, watched a court-marshal hearing and witnessed a “massive live fire training” in which 19 countries participated, including 1,500 American troops.

The internship wasn’t all big guns and big cars, however. The JAG Corps offers a highly competitive internship with a rigorous program and highly variable fields of focus. As legal advisers to soldiers, JAGs are expected to maintain expertise in a myriad of legal fields and pivot from one field to the next as needed by their advisees.

“As a JAG (and intern), you are expected to become an expert in every area that JAG Corps practices. And as the world’s largest law firm, there are a lot of areas,” said Hutton, who helped advise clients on topics ranging from divorce to military flight regulations to reporting sexual assault.

Hutton credits his success navigating such a wide array of legal fields to the educational foundation provided by UM’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law.

“Because I touched so many different practice areas, I felt incredibly fortunate to have received such a well-rounded education from [the Blewett School of Law] and was able to feel somewhat competent while being thrust into military law,” Hutton said.

After his internship, Hutton is “100% sold” on becoming a JAG.

“I am not sure there is another legal internship that would send you to Germany for the summer, where you are also able to gain valuable legal experience,” he said. “This is truly the best summer internship I could ask for.”

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Contact: Phil Stempin, director of events, marketing and communications, UM Blewett III School of Law, 406-243-6509, phil.stempin@mso.umt.edu.