Elon Law student wins Air Force JAG intern contest

Christopher Schroeder L’20 took first place in the inaugural Mock Opening Intern Competition for more than two dozen law students working over the summer at bases across the United States.

Chris Schroeder L’20

An Elon Law student selected to join the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps after he graduates in December won top honors over the summer in the military branch’s inaugural Mock Opening Intern Competition.

Christopher Schroeder L’20 prevailed over his peers in a contest that tasked more than two dozen interns with representing the government in a fictitious case involving an airman accused of stealing his suitemate’s credit card to purchase an Xbox gaming system.

The six interns who advanced beyond the first round of competition then competed virtually against each other with opening statements in defense of the accused airman.

“That was a whole new opportunity for me to learn, which was great!” said Schroeder, who was interning at the time for Space Force attorneys at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. “I asked around to other JAGs in the office for helpful hints and advice before competing … I got very lucky and ended up winning.”

Public speaking isn’t new for Schroeder. The Tennessee native and graduate of the University of Nevada Las Vegas previously served as president of Elon Law’s Military Law Society and is a member of the Moot Court Board.

Among his responsibilities as a legal intern: assisting military attorneys with preparations for courts martial, drafting motions, attending witness interviews, and learning more broadly about the ways in which military personnel can run afoul of the law.

Competitors presented their opening statements via Zoom to captains and majors in the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps with trial experience.

The contest victory is now a feather in the cap of an Elon Law student who has for years aspired to serve in the military – and will do just that for the Air Force after his selection earlier this year into the JAG Corps. His summer internship superiors also noted his success.

“When the 316th Legal Office based in Joint Base Andrews, colloquially known as America’s Legal Office, decided to develop an experiential learning program for 2020 summer interns, we had to take into account our COVID-19 operations posture,” said Air Force Capt. Pavan Krishnamurthy. “As the organizer of the event, I understood the value in giving future attorneys the ability not only to showcase their skills in a virtual setting, but to receive individualized feedback from senior attorneys in the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps.”

“Ultimately, I believe we were quite successful in this endeavor, and I congratulate Chris Schroeder for his strong advocacy skills.”