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Alum Speaks of Firsthand Legal Experience in Afghanistan

For a first-person account of legal operations in Afghanistan, read this fascinating interview in the March 11 Roanoke Times with Charles Carter Lee. The Roanoke, Va., attorney, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2001, just returned home after a stint in Afghanistan with the Virginia National Guard as an operational law attorney, rule of law attorney and trial counsel.

Carter joined the army in 2001 and went through Officer Candidate School. After five years’ service, he left active duty with the rank of captain. A few years later, as a member of the National Guard, he served as a primary staff officer for two battalions. After he obtained his law degree from the University of Richmond, he changed branches and became a judge advocate. He works for the Woods Rogers law firm, in its Roanoke office, as an associate in its litigation group.

Here’s Carter on how he uses his military experience in his civilian practice: “I incorporate the military decision-making process into my everyday work. Especially as a litigant in the adversarial process, there’s an opponent. So I’m always analyzing courses of action of the opponent, most likely courses of action, most dangerous courses of action, and how I’d respond to that. That’s just something that you work into the military decision-making process at all levels.”

And here’s how he decided to combine the military and the law: “I’ve always wanted to be in the army and always wanted to be a lawyer, too. … I decided to enlist after college, and it happened to be right after 9/11, too, so that sort of strengthened my resolve. … So I did that for five years and finally got around to taking the LSATs and applying to law school, because that was in the back of my mind what my end goal was anyway. So when I got to law school I still liked the army, and the National Guard was still a way to put my boots on every once in a while.”

Check out the interview for much more, including his thoughts on the Taliban’s influence in Afghanistan and his desire to work with veterans.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about his family history—he is a great-great-great nephew of Robert E. Lee, president of W&L from 1865 to 1870.