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After 12-hour shifts at the airfield, Air Force Staff Sergeant Joshua Bennett ‘14 would relocate to the library, where he would log on to his computer to work towards his undergraduate degree in sociology and criminal justice.
“Many of my professors were attorneys, and they would encourage me to look into law school,” Bennett recalled. “After I left the Air Force, I returned home to Kingston, N.Y., and started knocking on the doors of every law firm in town. One of the firms let me stay.”
Bennett worked at The Law Offices of Moran and Gottlieb, first as an intern, then as a paid employee, for 10 months while he applied to law schools. Now in his second semester at Albany Law, he is active with the Veterans’ Rights Pro Bono Project, Phi Alpha Delta and the Rugby Club.
At the recent Veterans’ Rights Pro Bono Project’s clinic, which provided free legal counsel to more than 40 veterans, Bennett connected with Major Joel Abelove, the senior defense counsel for the New York Army National Guard's Trial Defense Service. They discussed opportunities for Bennett to remain engaged with the military in some capacity, possibly as a National Guard Judge Advocate General, once he earns his law degree.
After joining the Air Force at 17, the eighth generation in his family in the military, Bennett served as a military police officer, a mechanic and crew chief for 707 aircraft, and a maintenance operations controller, which he compared to being an air traffic controller on the ground. During his six years of military service, Bennett was deployed to Ireland, Ecuador, United Arab Emirates and several other countries around the world.
Bennett’s experience as a military police officer, as well as his undergraduate degree from Ashford University, helped influence his post-graduation aspirations: he hopes to go on to work in a District Attorney’s office, focusing on trial work.
“I was a cop; I have a degree in criminal justice. I certainly have the background for district attorney work,” he said, noting that he is also currently enrolled in Professor Daniel Moriarty’s criminal law class and actively pursuing a field placement in a DA’s office for the summer.