The Brief: Law School News and Events

Law School Vets are Prepared to Lead

Five military veterans are now going through basic training of another sort at Penn Law School. Top: Anthony Crawford in action. Bottom left: Caption Sean Gormley and his wife, Kate. Bottom right: Gary Clarke.

On his first day as an officer in the U.S. Navy, 2L Gary Clarke was assigned a division of 17 men and handed several million dollars worth of equipment with one condition - "don't break it." Describing the military as a "crash course in leadership," Clarke and two others share how their time in the armed forces prepared them for law school. There are five veterans currently enrolled at Penn Law.

Clarke, son of a Trinidad Army reserve warrant officer, began his military career by joining the ROTC during his undergraduate years at Penn. Upon graduation, he joined the Navy and served as the information systems officer on the USS Denver, where he was in charge of managing 17 sailors and all classified and unclassified computer networks. During deployment to the Arabian Gulf, Clarke led his shipmates through intensive Visit, Board, Search and Seizure training from hunting pirates to assisting ships in distress.

"The training and environments you're in develop a certain attitude toward work ethic, tolerance of discomfort, and reacting to the pressures of stress," Clarke says. "The biggest thing that helps me in law school is not panicking, not freaking out, and not complaining that was an easy way to get ignored, to complain about your personal discomfort when there was a job to be done. You deal with the discomfort as long as it lasts and then you come out the other side."

Fellow military brat 1L Sean Gormley joined the Army after his uncle was nearly killed in the terrorist attacks on September 11th. A captain in the 101st Airborne Division, Gormley fought on the front lines during a 2006 tour in Iraq, where he quickly learned life's real priorities.

"When you go through training, you learn how to prioritize for situations like when you're on the battlefield triaging injuries - one of the key things they always say when you have a Medevac helicopter coming is life, limb, or eyesight," recalls Gormley. "Those are the three things that are above all other. It's a good reminder that you have your health and that life is good. It's incredible to be [at Penn Law]. Maybe I didn't get an A in Civ Pro, but I'm really not worried about that."

Anthony Crawford, a 2L, returned to Penn Law after serving in the Marines, a deviation from his father's career in the Navy. Stationed throughout the continental U.S. as a CH-53E Echo helicopter pilot, Crawford remains enrolled in the Individual Ready Reserve. Crawford's passion for law and aviation began in his youth watching episodes of Night Court and movies like Top Gun.

"I love this country - it sounds cliché, but I have a strong sense of patriotism," explains Crawford. "Even more so having traveled around the world and realizing what a good country we live in. I felt this need to contribute. And the law is everywhere the law molds everything we do in this country. You can't escape that and I want to be part of it." - Matthew E. Pilecki