Commentary Search

GATEWAY Takes Shape

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Charles D. Musselman
  • Instructor, Civil Law Division, The Judge Advocate General's School
Amid a continuing stream of changes at the JAG School, one will stand out. We are preparing for the first new course of the JAG Corps 21 era. GATEWAY, a three-week course designed for pinned-on majors, is set for its first session on 11-29 January 2010. The course is intended to expose mid-level judge advocates to a wide range of advanced instruction on substantive legal issues while participating in realistic exercises to hone leadership, management, and communication skills.

The genesis of GATEWAY was the desire to help prepare majors for the steadily increasing diversity and complexity of issues they'll be facing as their careers progress. Although each of them has already surmounted difficult leadership challenges, most have not had a broad enough range of assignments to encounter a full scope of likely situations. GATEWAY is focused on providing as much of that exposure as can be done in a few weeks.

GATEWAY will be the culmination of efforts that originated with a study group appointed by TJAG to examine the value of creating a mid-career course for JAGs. As part of its review, the study group conducted a survey that generated responses from over four hundred respondents, including inputs from more than two hundred majors. Results from the survey have substantially led to the development of much of the course content for GATEWAY.

Another critically important source of information was a three-hour beta test of the labor law lecture/seminar curriculum. The majors who participated in that session were engaged and candid and made suggestions that significantly altered some of our assumptions about the makeup of the course. Their bottom line was the same as what we drew from the survey -- a course like this could be very beneficial to majors' professional development, if we make it as practical and current as possible.

Based upon the survey results, the JAG School and a team of subject matter experts have developed a challenging curriculum that will focus on real-time problem solving rather than typical survey courses. Our goal is to make the first session as valuable as it can be, with the understanding that the insights of each class will improve the course as it evolves.

GATEWAY students will participate in small seminar groups led by subject matter experts to foster open dialogue on front-burner legal topics. Throughout the course, participants will also be presented with scenarios consisting of management and leadership challenges intended to generate lively discussions supported by individual observations and personal experiences.