A L U M N I P R O F I L E S : L AW I N T H E M I L I TA RY
MAN ON A MISSION
udge Advocate General (JAG) officer Lt. Col. Scott Marchand MBA’83,JD’87 does not fly planes, perform rescue missions or solve mysterious crimes. In fact, real JAG officers don’t usually get into the kind of thrilling predicaments depicted by their super-sleuthing counterparts on TV. However, after spending an hour with Marchand, it’s clear that being a JAG officer involves enough day-to-day challenges and high-stakes decision making to create some compelling drama. As chief of general law at the Elmendorf Air Force base near Anchorage, Alaska, Marchand deals with everything from resolving disputes between company commanders to handling court maritals. “Court martialing an officer is always interesting because there’s a lot of pressure involved,” he notes. “Officers are held to a pretty high standard of leadership and professionalism. For them to mess up and be facing a court martial is big news.” Marchand’s legal work doesn’t stop in the courtroom. His office oversees nearly all of the base’s legal operations – handling contracts, environmental law, ethics issues, labor law, fiscal real estate, utility issues and administrative law. That means the base is constantly negotiating with parties outside of the military structure, and Marchand has to be right in the middle of the action. “These military installations are like little cities,” he says, remarking on the diversity of issues that confront him. “My job is a lot like being a municipal attorney because you get to deal with so many areas of the law.”
The job certainly puts Marchand’s management skills to the test. As a dual-degree recipient from both Willamette University College of Law and Willamette’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Marchand says he is more than equipped to handle the unique demands of being a lawyer and a superior officer. “My dual degree has been very useful in the JAG community because you come in as an officer and you’re immediately a supervisor. You’re thrust into a situation where you’re supervising people who have five, 10, sometimes 15 years of military experience. But, because of Willamette, I felt ready for the task.” What appeals most to Marchand about the JAG community is both its sense of mission and the collegiality it inspires. As he says, “Nothing is profit-driven in the JAG corps. It’s mission-driven and everyone pulls together to get the job done. I like that a lot.” For someone who has moved several times for new assignments, the JAG corps also gives Marchand a reassuring sense of continuity and community. “I like the atmosphere of working in the JAG community. It’s very close-knit and people depend on their coworkers.” So while the job of being a JAG may not involve unraveling international conspiracies or parachuting onto a ship, Marchand’s sense of duty and love for what he does is far better than any work of fiction. – Brad Millay BA’97
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