THOUGH ERICA ASKEW ’21 IS STILL DECIDING ON HER AREA OF PRACTICE, she is clear on what kind of job she wants. “I came to law school not to find a career that would have the highest salary, but to find a career that I could be passionate about and that would be fulfilling and challenging,” she said. “I would not be happy in my career if I felt I was working solely for personal gain. I want to do my part to make the world a better place, as cliché as that sounds.”
”The goal for her in law school has been finding the right fit. “I want to be a part of something bigger than myself, contributing to a team, selflessly working toward a greater goal with honorable professionals,” she said.
This summer, she found it as an Albany Law School Veterans Rights Fellow, interning with the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps in Pensacola, Fla. Askew rotated through several JAG offices, from legal assistance to trial. “It was really eye-opening to see the importance of the JAG members and what they do to keep service members mission-ready,” she said. That starts with general legal assistance, from drafting wills to dealing with landlord-tenant disputes, for service members and their dependents. But JAGs play another important role. Askew observed two general court-martials—both for sexual assault—and non-judicial punishments for assault and larceny. Assisting in those types of prosecutions would give her a chance to do something meaningful, she said.
“The moment I found out what JAGs are and what they do, something immediately clicked. Navy JAGs have the ability to make an impact around the world, in diverse and sometimes unique practice areas” such as cybersecurity, maritime, environmental, and international law.
Askew was also impressed by the camaraderie shown by attorneys on opposing sides. “The biggest thing that struck me was the relationship the government had with the defense,” she said. “They are still all under the same commander. Trial and defense had weekly [physical training] together.”
Askew’s family has served in the military for generations. Now, she plans to serve through law. Askew is certain it will be meaningful work that will bring her fulfillment in whichever area of practice she pursues. “To me, that’s really exciting.”