Bernstein Discusses Transition from JAG to Private Practice

Shook Associate Matt Bernstein has authored an article for the Dade County Bar Association's Bulletin describing the challenges he faced in moving into private practice after beginning his career as a JAG attorney. Bernstein spent six years in active duty, culminating in eleven months in Afghanistan. 
"This enriching experience is what made leaving active duty one of the hardest decisions of my life," he writes. "And as I began my job search, I was hit by a new challenge: an uphill battle to explain to potential employers, who were used to more traditional-track attorneys, how my experience in the JAG Corps transfers to civilian practice. I quickly learned that this is a common problem for JAGs who leave the service. Once I entered private practice, growing pains ensued."
Bernstein describes the difficulties of the transition, including how he explained his experience in interviews and how he adapted to tracking billable hours. "My mentors and friends provided incredible insight and assistance throughout the transition process," he writes. "I urge those of you who are thinking about beginning your legal career in the Army or those of you transitioning from military service to private practice to reach out for mentors who've followed a similar path. And to potential employers: Next time an application from a JAG crosses your desk, I urge you to take a second look—that person will bring significant value to your firm."