WMU-Cooley, as a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. October’s monthly feature is WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Gary Bauer. Professor Bauer was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and a Navigator-Bombardier on B-52 and KC 135 aircraft.
Military rank and title: Captain, U.S. Air Force, Navigator-Bombardier on B-52 and KC 135 aircraft
Decision to go to law school and why you choose WMU-Cooley: My decision was based upon a return on my investment. I was 38 when I attended law school for the first time. A person can practice law without limitations in spite of physical limitations as long the brain functions. So I figured the length of my career projected well into my 70s, if I chose to work that long. Also, the flexibility of a law degree gave me options geographically, subject matter choices, business settings, and whether I worked for someone else or independently. It was the return on my investment that drove my decision.
Military background: I spent six years in the Air Force after graduating from Purdue University. After my enlistment period was over, I went to work for a Japanese company as a Regional Sales Manager and covered up to five states. I did that for six years until the company pulled their operations out of the United States. It was then that I need to decide what to do for the rest of my life – law was it! No contest. This past summer I did a blog story I called Typhoon June and I got Personal. The story talks about about the time I flew right through a Typhoon, as ordered to do so, during the time of the Vietnam War. The story not only talks about the risks inherent with that task, but how, when you experience proximity to death, it changes you and makes it possible to better appreciate the life you have and what is really important in your life.
Future goals and why veterans make great lawyers: As a full-time professor of law, I love working with students who are hungry for knowledge and guidance, so I want to keep doing what I love to do — why would I want to do anything else? As far as why veterans make great lawyers, both military and a legal careers are perfect training in leadership. Plus, those with a military background know how to follow the chain of command, which is similar to the law and process. Individuals with a military background also know how to handle a competitive, adversarial system. You are trained to deal with the stress of combat and are able to make quick and accurate decisions – difficult decisions under stressful situations. I also feel that the military is a diverse and accepting culture, as is the law. There is a maturity about those in the military, along with their families. They know about responsibility, along with good time management skills and discipline. I also feel as though those with a military background have settled down – they have seen other cultures, experienced command subordination and the stresses of battle. Some would say they have hardened and are willing to follow instructions. It has been my experience that many of my very best students are former military members. Military students can also take advantage of the GI Bill – keeping debt load down or nearly zero at WMU-Cooley, especially if you attend part-time and remain working and take advantage of scholarships. Again, I truly feel that a legal career is one of the greatest and most versatile careers, in terms of location, subject matter and diversity of client base, and is one of the longest productive life career opportunities.
Tell us a little about you: Recently recognized by the American Bar Association with the Solo And Small Firm Trainer Award, also recognized this year by the Solo Section of the State Bar and will soon be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for the work I do helping students find their path to success. I come from Fort Wayne, Indiana and I am one of 12 children raised to be independent and productive members of society. I have a blog, sololawyerbydesign.com which I highly recommend. Read “Is Your Client a 20 Footer?” or “Avoid the Dog in a Basket” which are just two of well over 100 posts. And for military vets, read my post concerning Typhoon June and how I had to fly right through it.