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Bar News - October 15, 2010

Four NH Attorneys Serve as JAG Officers


From left, Brian Pristera, Jennifer Norvell, Barry Emmert, and Matthew Huot were recently awarded the rank of 1st Lieutenant.
Four attorneys with New Hampshire ties were commissioned as First Lieutenants in the United States Army on July 4, 2010. Matt Huot, Jennifer Norvell, Brian Pristera and Barry Emmett will graduate from the 182nd Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course on September 29, 2010.

The four have been in training since July 4, 2010, when they began two weeks of "Army Familiarization" training at Ft. Lee, Virginia. After learning the basics of Army life, they transitioned to The Judge Advocate Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS) – the only ABA-accredited service school – on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Virginia.

At TJAGLCS they are learning military law and getting physically prepared for the next phase of training. After graduation from the Officer Basic Course, all four will move to Ft. Benning in Georgia to complete a six-week Direct Commissioned Officer Course. At Ft. Benning, they will learn soldier skills, such as marksmanship, land navigation, communication, and combat lifesaving. Each of them has a different reason for deciding to serve and will assume very different roles as they serve the US Army as Judge Advocates.

Jennifer Sawyer Norvell

Jennifer Sawyer Norvell
Active Duty Army
Admitted to NH Bar:
Other Bar Admissions: Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Supreme Court of the United States
Hometown: Whitefield, NH
Law School: Boston University School of Law (2000)

For nine years, I practiced law in the litigation departments of private firms in New Hampshire, Maine and New York. I enjoyed litigating and loved developing relationships with my clients and colleagues. As much as I enjoyed the work, I always felt I lacked purpose.

In 2009, I left private practice to become a civilian litigation attorney at Headquarters, Department of the Army. There, I was finally able to silence the constant obsession over billable hours and receivables, and focus solely on litigating cases to get a great result for my one and only client, the US Army.

Nearly all of my colleagues were Judge Advocates on active duty, many of whom had just returned from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and many other places around the world. I was truly humbled by their enthusiasm for serving their country, and the energy with which they tackled the difficult legal issues facing the Army today. I knew then, without a doubt, that this was the "purpose" for which I had been searching all of these years.

In November 2010, my husband Doug and I will head to my first duty assignment in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate for I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, about 45 miles south of Seattle.

I am proud to serve in the United States Army, and strive every day to live the Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Integrity, Honor, and Personal Courage.

Matthew D. Huot

Matthew D. Huot
Army Reserve
Admitted to NH Bar:
Other Bar Admissions: Washington
Hometown: Laconia, NH
Law School: Gonzaga University School of Law (2008)

I decided to join the Army Reserve during my third year of law school. I was drawn to the idea of serving as a "Citizen-Soldier" and using my legal education to assist Soldiers and their families, as well as advising Commanders on military law issues.

My father (Senior Active Judge David O. Huot) served as a Judge Advocate for the NH Air National Guard until his retirement in 1998 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 31 years of service. He always spoke with reverence and pride of his time in uniform, and I wanted to follow his example. So far, I have not been disappointed.

The training we have received here at the Basic Course has been fantastic. We have learned a tremendous amount about military law, while also developing practical legal skills and Soldier skills. However, the biggest lesson I have learned so far is that a Reservist’s family, friends, and employer all make major contributions when that Reservist is required to go on Active Duty. Because of this, I appreciate the support and encouragement from my friends and family while I attend the 182nd Basic Course, especially my fiancée Sarah Beth, who will be sitting for the 2011 NH Winter Bar Exam.

I also want to thank my employer, Jeremey Miller, of J. Miller & Associates. When I interviewed for a position in Jeremey’s firm last March, I told him up front that I would need to take an extended leave of absence to attend the Basic Course, which I have learned can be a significant hardship for my classmates in the Reserve/National Guard components, since they are away from their practices for such a long time. My concern that this fact might disqualify me from consideration was completely unfounded. Jeremey was more than willing to work with me; in fact, he also employs Jonathan Alexander, Esq., who attended the 181st Basic Course right before me and now serves in the NH Army National Guard as a Judge Advocate. I appreciate Jeremey’s understanding and willingness to help me fulfill my goal of serving in the US Army Reserve, and I look forward to returning to work at J. Miller & Associates in November, at which point I will also begin serving with the 3rd Legal Support Organization in Boston, MA.

Brian A. Pristera

Brian A. Pristera
Active Duty Army
Admitted to NH Bar:
Hometown: Midlothian, VA
Law School: University of New Hampshire School of Law (2009)

I finished engineering school in May 2006, graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond Virginia. After briefly working for DuPont, I moved to New Hampshire to attend Franklin Pierce Law Center with the intention of studying and specializing in intellectual property law. My passion, however, shifted to criminal defense and military administrative law.

To gain experience and knowledge of the practice of law in the armed forces I interned with the law firm of Gary Myers and Associates, a military law firm located in Weare, NH, as well as with the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate in United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Upon graduation from law school, I remained in NH for a year practicing with Gary Myers and Associates before entering active duty in the Army on July 4, 2010.

I will be stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia for my first assignment, and will remain there for approximately two to three years before being reassigned.

Barry Emmert

New Hampshire National Guard
Admitted to Bar:
Hometown: Stratford, CT
Law School: Quinnipiac University School of Law

One of the first questions I normally get when people find out I am member of the National Guard is how is it different from the regular Army? In a nutshell, the National Guard is a military branch – America’s oldest – that serves both state and federal governments. The major difference between the Guard and other branches is that while Guard units are combat-trained and can be deployed overseas (depending on your unit and your job), Guard Soldiers are just as likely to serve in their home communities – just one weekend per month, and one two-week period each year.

Another question I get quite often is: why did you join? I don’t think there is any one reason a person becomes a solider. There is normally a culmination of life experiences and events that motivates an individual to become a solider. For me it was the same, my father served in Vietnam and after serving honorably, he used his Army experience and the GI bill to make a better life for himself and his family. He shared his experiences of duty, honor, and courage. As I grew up he instilled those same beliefs in me.

When I first joined the Guard, the thing that stood out the most was the amount of pride my colleagues have for their country and how much they care for their fellow soldiers. The JAG office that I work in consists of a group of dedicated attorneys and paralegals whose goal is to ensure our soldiers get the best legal services and support available. I would be remiss if I didn’t send a message to the two NH National Guard JAG attorneys deploying on September 11th of this year – be safe and I look forward to seeing you in a year!

Currently I work in the Financial Services Industry; prior to that I worked within the New Hampshire legal community as an intern at the New Hampshire Federal Defenders Office in Concord and for Kenna, Johnston & Sharkey in Manchester. Having graduated from Trinity High School and Plymouth State College, I have strong ties to the state of New Hampshire.

Upon completion of my training, I will return to my civilian job and continue serving in the New Hampshire National Guard.

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