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Desire to be an Advocate Leads UK Political Science Grad to Marines and the Law

By Richard LeComte 

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Judge Advocate General’s Corp: The name makes people think about the film “A Few Good Men” or the long-running CBS procedural series. 

But it’s a real service, and one that presents a terrific career opportunity for Daniel Mullen who plans to graduate with a degree from the University of Kentucky’s J. David Rosenberg College of Law in 2022 and earned his bachelor’s in the College of Arts & Sciences’ Political Science Department.  

He’s entering JAG through the U.S. Marine Corps:  He’ll be going to officer training in Quantico, Virginia, on June 8. Later, he’ll attend the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island. Along the way he’ll take the bar exam in Kentucky. 

Mullen, who’s from Paducah, Kentucky, and earned his bachelor’s in 2019, notes that his grandfathers were in military service, but his main motivation is the chance to work directly in military courts, particularly in the area of criminal law, which he studied in-depth in the College of Law. He sees criminal law as an opportunity to give voice either to someone who stands accused or someone who’s a victim. 

"It’s the ability to give people a voice in a system they might otherwise not have,” he said. “Whether you’re on the prosecution or defense, you get to act as an advocate for regular people." 

Mullen sees a number of advantages to entering the Marine Corps and JAG. For example, the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, which often have staff members coming from military backgrounds, could prove to be career paths. Also, advocates get to practice in several areas along with criminal law, which can be useful when practicing state criminal law as well, he said.  

"It just seemed like a really good opportunity with good employment benefits,” he said. “You also get a lot of hands-on experience as well both in research and in advocating in court. Basically, you take whatever case is assigned, but a lot of the intro level stuff is in criminal law. You also get experience in administrative law and other types of fields.” 

As an undergrad, Mullen found that D. Stephen Voss, associate professor, and Bill Swinford, former chief of staff to UK President Eli Capilouto and part-time instructor, gave him a great deal of support in pursuing his career goal in law.  

“Dr. Voss helped me with my writing and research skills, and he also wrote a letter of recommendation for me,” Mullen said. “Dr. Swinford wrote a letter as well, and he introduced me to constitutional law. Both also helped guide me through the law-school application process and with shaping my abilities as a student.”