U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Darpino Speaks to John Marshall Law Students

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Lieutenant General Flora D. Darpino, The Judge Advocate General for the U.S. Army, spoke to John Marshall law students, faculty and other guests on March 2, discussing her career and her work as a member of the Army JAG Corps.

In a wide-ranging conversation with John Marshall Dean Darby Dickerson, Darpino told the audience how she began her career and how being a woman lawyer in the military impacted her. She is the first woman to hold the position of The Judge Advocate General of the Army.

Darpino, who joined the U.S. Army JAG Corps in 1987 with her husband, recalled showing up to her first assignment as a JAG officer to a military base in Stuttgart, Germany where her boss said to her, “I told them not to send me a woman, but they sent you anyway.”

Darpino recalled using that initial encounter as a rallying cry. “When he said they sent me anyway, I took that to mean that someone had faith in me. I worked my hardest to not let them down.” Despite the rocky start, Darpino told the John Marshall audience that the initial encounter was an exception. The U.S. Army is gender blind when it comes to being promoted up the ranks and given plum assignments. “As I worked hard and demonstrated my competence, the Army became gender neutral.”

The U.S. Army’s JAG Corps is now 27 percent female, she noted.

Darpino told the audience that a military career is not for every lawyer. You must be prepared to be both a soldier and a lawyer, she said. As lawyers, you must be competent, have strong character and a strong commitment to the rule of law and to the military. “It can never be about you,” she cautioned.

Darpino’s commitment to her work has taken her to places far and wide and caused her to miss important family events including her daughters’ proms and a high school graduation. But she would do it again. “I love what I do.”

“We were thrilled to have General Darpino on campus. She has reached the pinnacle of her legal career and her message of hard work, strong character and commitment is a valuable one for any law student,” said Dean Dickerson.

Darpino was named The Judge Advocate General in September 2013. Under Army rules, she must retire after serving one, four year term as The Judge Advocate General.

Watch the entire conversation below.

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