WMU-Cooley is a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School. This month’s military blog feature is recent WMU-Cooley graduate Hardam Tripathi. Learn about his law school journey and his new position as an Officer and Judge Advocate with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps.
Early on, Hardam Tripathi knew he wanted to be an attorney. He knew he liked working with people and he knew he wanted to do something that could make a difference in his community. Yet his path to his ultimate career choice was winding. He originally thought his educational background would lead him to a career in the health industry, especially after obtaining a master’s degree in pharmaceutical outcomes and policy.
But it wasn’t until he went to law school that he discovered his real passion.
“I remember looking into law schools after I finished my graduate degree from the University of Florida,” recalled Tripathi. “I didn’t know about Western Michigan University Cooley Law School because it was new in the Tampa Bay area. A friend of mine, who is in the Army special forces, was attending WMU-Cooley and he had a lot of good things to say about the law school. He told me that WMU-Cooley was a great place to study law for someone with a military background or interested in a military career. He told me that WMU-Cooley was a very military friendly school and it offered a great program in support of the military like offering military law classes and homeland and a national security law review.
“My friend told me that all of the professors had practiced law in the industry for many years, and they knew exactly how the law was applied. When you have a practitioner teaching you the law versus someone who is just teaching theory alone, it makes for a much better experience as a student.
But what really made my mind up was the personal and friendly relationships I made with the people and my belief in the law school’s inclusive mission. That’s why I chose Western Michigan University Cooley Law School over any other law school in the Florida state area.”
“Culture is key,” stated Tripathi. “Culture is who we are. It’s what we’re made up of. It is the fundamental part of life that sticks to us in all different societies. It is the United States of America. It’s culture. It is diversity. So, when you want to become a practitioner and study law, and practice law, diversity is very key. It’s something that’s so important in our day-to-day lives. It’s what attracted me to Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.
“The thing is, when you go into the real world, you’re not going to be working with people just like you. You’re going to be working with people of all different types of races, cultures, religions and creeds. I believe WMU-Cooley instills this in their students – to respect diversity. To respect culture. To respect a life where people respect other views and their viewpoints.”
During his time at WMU-Cooley, Tripathi honed in on his career options and potential by taking advantage of the law school’s clinical opportunities and extra-curricular activities.
“It was during my internship with the Community Legal Service in Florida, where I discovered my interest for government work,” recalled Tripathi. “After that internship, I worked with the DEA (Diversion Control Division), the ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), and then the U.S. State Department, where I learned about veterans law and worked with veterans. I loved it!
“I then got to participate in an internship with the U.S. Air Force JAG Corp at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. I felt so lucky to be selected, especially since there is a lower than 5 percent acceptance rate in the program.
“My experience at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School really comes down to the professors and the students. Our people are the grain that makes up this university. My professors taught me how to handle certain situations and issues and how to advocate zealously for your clients, professionally and responsibly. These are the kind of professors that we breed here at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. They are great because they teach and ingrain these values in the students to make sure that you aren’t just a decent attorney but a great person and a great professional. I would say there are some experiences I had with my professors that will have a lasting impact on me.
It was his experience with U.S. Air Force JAG Corp though that solidified his love and passion to serve in the military as a judge advocate.
This past April, Tripathi graduated from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. He found it to be one of the most memorable experiences of his life having his classmates, professors, family, friends, and all his loved ones there in support of his accomplishment. What was even nicer was that he already had a job.
“I am proud to say I will be serving the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps as an Officer and Judge Advocate. I am very excited to start and to serve my country.”
Tripathi has already set new goals for himself. He believes in having short-, mid-, and long-term goals, but his ultimate goal is to help his community and to serve.
“What is the purpose of going to law school,” questioned Tripathi, “if it is not to help those who can’t help themselves?
“I think it is very important, especially in the legal profession where you are entrusted with the responsibility to help others, that you are always professional and work with your clients in an ethical manner. My immediate goal is to serve in military and immerse myself in the legal field and profession. After that, I can see myself possibly in the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor.
Tripathi is a self-proclaimed family man. Coming from an Indian descent, he feels his background and its cultural traditions play into his dedication to family and community.
“Ultimately, why do we all do this – it is for our families,” declared Tripathi. “Why do we become doctors? Why do we become lawyers? Why do we become engineers? Why do we do anything that we do? It is for our families.”
Tripathi enjoys playing drums, singing, sports, and travel.
“We love to sing and do a lot of singing events,” smiled Tripathi. “We will go out to different places and play music together. It’s a wonderful way instill culture and joy to my family. I also love being active and participating in sports like basketball and running. Staying active physically keeps me going.
“Another important thing to me is serving on the executive board of directors of the United Nations Association. It has expanded my awareness of my culture and other cultures and learn what is going on the world around us. In India, there is a spring festival called Holi. It’s known as the festival of colors and signifies good over evil. It’s always a fun day to gather together to play, laugh, forget and forgive. The powders and colors are used symbolize love and repair of broken relationships.
Traveling is also key though. We relish our family cruises and trips to other states and countries. It’s a wonderful to just get away and relax. Ultimately, we plan to make a sojourn to India.