Air Force Deputy Judge Advocate General Discusses Women in Legal Leadership

April 9, 2024
A student, Maj. Gen. Vernon, and Dean Schooner

GW Law’s National Security, Cybersecurity, & Foreign Relations Law Program, along with the Veteran Law Students Association (VLSA), Military Law Society (MLS), and National Security Law Association (NLSA) hosted the Department of the Air Force Deputy Judge Advocate General, Major General (Maj. Gen.) Rebecca Vernon, LLM ’03 to celebrate Women’s History Month. This year’s event—Women in Legal Leadership: Insights from the Department of the Air Force’s Deputy Judge Advocate and Top Female Attorney—offered GW Law students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to celebrate Women’s History Month and hear insights from Maj. Gen. Vernon’s military career.

Before her position as Deputy Judge Advocate General, Maj. Gen. Vernon served as the Director of Military Justice and Discipline at Joint Base Andrews, MD, Staff Judge Advocate for Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component—Afghanistan in Afghanistan, Staff Judge Advocate of the 1st Special Operations Wing in Hulburt Field, FL, Federal Trial Court Trial Attorney at the Air Force Legal Operations Agency in Arlington, VA, Chief of Civil Law for the 377 Air Base Wing, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM, Area Defense Counsel, Moody Air Force Base, GA, and Chief of Legal Assistance for the 347th Wing, Moody Air Force Base, GA. Maj. Gen. Vernon graduated cum laude from New England School of Law in Boston, MA and she received her LLM in Government Procurement from GW Law in 2003, earning the highest honors, and winning the Government Contracts Moot Court Competition.

Drawing from her unique experiences in these positions and decades of military service, Maj. Gen. Vernon shared her perspective on what it means to be a leader in the legal profession. During her opening remarks, Maj. Gen. Vernon reflected on the issues facing today’s lawyers and military leaders and emphasized the importance of fostering teamwork, diversity, and authenticity to tackle today’s pressing challenges inside and outside the military. Maj. Gen. Vernon also spoke about what military service has meant to her and her excitement for how the next generation of leaders will shape the culture of the military and legal field.

During the event’s Q&A portion, Maj. Gen. Vernon answered questions about what drew her to a career as a Judge Advocate, how she honed her leadership style, and how she has applied this style as a philosophy to mentor and receive mentorship. Maj. Gen. Vernon recounted stories about navigating complex legal and ethical questions, embracing diverse backgrounds in her leadership positions, and contributing to positive cultural changes. Maj. Gen. Vernon encouraged students to approach their current and future careers with a willingness to learn and foster trust among teammates.

Numerous students, faculty, and staff stayed after the event to thank Maj. Gen. Vernon for her insights. GW Law’s National Security, Cybersecurity, & Foreign Relations Law Program and its student organizations were honored to host Maj. Gen. Vernon for Women’s History Month.