Jeremy Scholtes '08
|Major Jeremy Scholtes
Chief of Administrative Law Division
2d Infantry Division
Camp Red Cloud, Korea
1. Describe how you arrived at your chosen career path:
In 2001 I graduated from The United States Military Academy and then served for four years as an infantry officer. After assisting a Soldier in a hearing where the Army sought to administratively separate him, and then a few years later watching one of my Soldiers proceed through a court-martial for desertion, I started thinking that maybe one day after retiring from the Army I would go to law school. I was originally drawn to the litigation part of the law because I thought I would enjoy another profession that demanded the mastery of issue spotting, problem solving, and persuasion. As luck would have it, I learned about the Army’s Funded Legal Education Program (FLEP), applied for a slot, and was selected. The FLEP sends 10-20 Army officers to law school in exchange for additional service as a Judge Advocate (attorney). In my nearly five years since graduating from law school, practicing law turned out to be a real adventure. I have been a prosecutor, a rule of law attorney, an international and operational law attorney, and now an administrative law attorney.
2. What is important for students to get out of law school to prepare for a career after graduation?
Certainly it is important to learn as much as possible about the many different areas of law and to perform as well as possible on exams and other evaluations. Throughout the learning, test taking, paper writing, and mock appellate arguments, it is critical to develop time management and stress management skills. Most importantly, however, students need to seize every internship/externship, clinic, and real world application opportunity. I was blessed to see and experience the law in action as an environmental law intern at Fort Meade, a Criminal Defense Clinic participant and attorney-supervised practitioner, and a member of the National Trial Team. That hands-on experiential learning allowed me to practice what I learned in the classroom, interact with real clients, and actually develop some useful skills I would use in the courtroom shortly after taking the bar exam.
3. Describe a day on the job:
Currently I am the Chief of the Administrative Law Division for 2d Infantry Division at Camp Red Cloud, Korea. A typical day starts with responding to emails and prioritizing tasks and responsibilities for my subordinate attorneys and paralegals. I might then advise an investigator for an Article 32 hearing (like a grand jury proceeding), teach a class for incoming unit commanders, brief the Commanding General or a senior staff member on a regulatory issue, or review an affidavit from a police officer seeking a search or seizure authorization. My day often closes out with researching, writing, or reviewing work product for the hot topic of the day which could involve a labor dispute, environmental concern, ethics opinion, contract review, or any number of other administrative and regulatory issues. The only constant is change, which means every day is exciting and challenging.
4. What has been a rewarding experience for you as a professional?
Two very different experiences are right at the top of my list. First, I had the opportunity to partner with some talented litigators and learn some great skills while working as the most junior attorney on a four person trial team assigned to four murder cases and a solicitation to murder case. That experience demanded more research and motions practice, witness and evidence preparation, rehearsal, and trial team synchronization than I had ever experienced. I also learned, more than I had on any other case, about the burden or stress that comes with making decisions that can lead to such life altering changes in the lives of other human beings. Second, I had the opportunity to spend a year in Basrah, Iraq working as a rule of law attorney. Having served in Iraq during the initial invasion as an infantryman, the chance to go back seven years later but in a rebuilding capacity was an extraordinarily redeeming experience. Helping a country rebuild its capacity to improve and manage its own law enforcement, judiciary, corrections, and continuing legal education systems made me realize how lucky we are to have the rule of law we enjoy in the United States. I hope the efforts of the team I was a part of in some way led to sustainable rule of law.
5. What would you have done differently during law school or early in your career?
As a new prosecutor, I wish I would have spent even more time observing other experienced attorneys practicing their craft – both pre-trial preparation and then in the courtroom. I felt like I watched others a fair amount, but I know I could have and should have been in their offices and in the court gallery learning from my mentors more often.
6. Other than the challenging legal job market, what are challenges you think attorneys face professionally in the coming years and how can they prepare now?
I hate to say work-life balance, but it is true. The reason every attorney says work-life balance is a challenge is because in our demanding and time consuming profession, many of us struggle to get it right. There is always more work to be done, so it is important to prioritize and re-prioritize and then do it again to ensure your personal life makes it to Priority #1 often enough so that you and your loved ones remain healthy and happy. I have to remain vigilante to protect my family time so I can be a present and engaged husband and father. Goal setting, expectation management, prioritization, and communication are key parts of the work-balance equation. It’s a journey, so don’t expect “balance” to be a destination.
** The opinions included in this post are mine and mine alone. My opinions here are not officially endorsed by, nor are they intended to represent the official position of, the U.S. Army, the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, or the 2d Infantry Division.