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Celebrating 10 Years of NSLJ

September 18, 2023

This spring, the National Security Law Journal celebrates ten years of achievement: ten volumes; nineteen issues; ten successful transitions of leadership; thirty-six professional pieces; forty-five student notes and comments; three book reviews; and symposia featuring prominent scholars and government leaders – from the DoD’s Deputy General Counsel for Intelligence, to the former head of the CIA and NSA, and the former Attorney General of the United States. In recognition of all the remarkable people and effort that has made NSLJ what it is today, the Editorial Board reached out to a few of our distinguished alumni to ask for their stories, their advice for our current members, and how the journal has affected their lives.

NSLJ Graduation Photo

Meet our Alumni

Patrick Austin

Patrick Austin (class of 2013) served as Editor-in-Chief of NSLJ’s inaugural issue. Patrick currently works at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in the firm’s Privacy & Security Practice Group advising clients across a broad range of industries on data privacy, cybersecurity, and compliance matters. Patrick helps clients – including companies in the telecom, fintech, SaaS, and healthcare sectors – improve their security posture based on an understanding of their business strategies and objectives and technology infrastructure. Prior to joining Davis Wright, Patrick served as an Attorney-Advisor with the U.S. Department of Justice in the Office of Information Policy addressing legal and regulatory issues associated with records requests filed under the federal Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act.

Dillon Emmanuel

Dillon Emmanuel was one of the few non-transplants to the law school; having grown up in Arlington, VA. Dillon’s background is in public safety, and he worked in law enforcement prior to and during law school. As an evening student, Dillon’s time was limited, but he interned with DOJ and was a practicing member with MVETS, the Military Law Society, and NSLJ. During his 3L year, he was offered an opportunity to join the Air Force JAG Corps. Upon graduating law school, Dillon took the Alabama bar, and commissioned as a lieutenant in the Air Force. Dillon’s first two years in the JAG Corp focused on prosecution and he eventually became the Chief of Military Justice at Whiteman Air Force Base. In 2019, Dillon became an Air Force defense attorney at Whiteman AFB and spent two years traveling from North Dakota down to Texas defending the rights and freedoms of service members. Dillon transitioned to the Air Force Reserves and is now the state defense attorney for the Missouri Air National Guard. Upon finishing active duty, Dillon transitioned back into law enforcement where he serves as Special Agent with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Dillon works in the public safety group, which focuses on combating transnational drug trafficking organizations and gangs. 

Jessica Eddy

Ms. Jessica Eddy currently serves as a Program Attorney for the United States Navy, Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters. She advises on all acquisition law matters to include milestone decisions for major defense systems and other acquisition programs, matters of congressional or secretarial interest, legislation, source selections, bid protests, industry inquiries, and foreign military sales.  She is also a member of the Certified Mediator Program in the Department of the Navy’s (DON) Workplace Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).  Prior to this position she served as Associate Counsel for Naval Surface Warfare Center – Carderock from October 2016-October 2021 and as Associate Counsel for Naval Air Warfare Center-Aircraft Division from July 2016 to October 2018. In these roles she focused on civilian personnel law, acquisition law, and government ethics. Prior to transitioning to the government, Ms. Eddy worked as a pro bono attorney supporting Kids in Need of Defense (K.I.N.D.), as well as a defense contractor from 2006-2016 working on a variety of subject areas including import/export compliance, international cooperation, international agreements, and international affairs legal support.  She graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland, University College in 2018 and George Mason School of Law in 2014. 

Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds is a proud alumnus of George Mason’s Antonin Scalia School of Law. Prior to attending George Mason, Ryan attained his B.A. in Communication from The University of Maryland. Since graduating law school in 2021, Ryan passed the Virginia Bar, completed a judicial clerkship with the Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, and has worked as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Northern Virginia. When not in a suit Ryan enjoys learning new instruments and learning useless trivia facts. 

Was there a highlight to your NSLJ experience? If so, what was it?

Founding NSLJ with the most determined, creative group of colleagues was the highlight of my tenure with the journal. Convincing the law school that a journal was needed in the area of national security law took tenacity and determination. It would have never come together without the commitment and effort of the founding members who diligently worked together to make it happen. I think that spirit lives on in NSLJ today and I see the journal growing and developing to stay relevant and informative in this space.   

In addition, while working as the Symposium Editor, I had the pleasure of engaging and meeting with former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Former Director of NSA and CIA, General (Ret.) Michael Hayden. Both men had very impressive careers from two very different perspectives. And both were extremely supportive of NSLJ and the efforts of its members to create a space to discuss national security concerns. They both genuinely were engaged with NSLJ to help develop the next generation of attorneys in the national security law area and I appreciate the interactions I had with them while arranging the symposiums. – Jessica Eddy

If I had to pick a highlight, I would say that it was redesigning the Journal’s website from the ground up. While the amount of time it took to was perhaps less than desirable, the end result made it more than worth it. – Ryan Reynolds

Definitely not the expected, or typical, response, but in Volume 4 of the Journal, we had a nightmare scenario where a piece that we planned on publishing had to be dropped. This caused the journal to delay publication, which as you can imagine, led to even more issues. The Journal was still developing at this time and many feared we wouldn’t be able to overcome this. However, due to the steadfast leadership, committed editors, and passionate members, the Journal came together and still produced a great product. – Dillon Emmanuel

There are so many highlights and fond memories associated with NSLJ, it’s difficult to narrow it down to one. Nevertheless, the arrival of the first print edition of NSLJ Issue 1, Volume 1 is a particularly salient memory. I recall the sense of euphoria (intermingled with relief) upon seeing the flagship issue of NSLJ brought to fruition in hard copy form. It represented the culmination of so much work and provided a level of affirmance that launching this journal was a worthwhile endeavor. I remain in awe at how far NSLJ has come since 2013 and am excited to see where it goes over the course of the next decade. – Patrick Austin

What skills did you develop by being a member of NSLJ, and how have those skills affected your life and career?

The NSLJ is not like other journals. Unlike law review and some of the generic journals offered in law school, the NSLJ is focused on professionals or aspiring professionals interested in the field of National Security. The journal kept me apprised of ongoing and emerging trends in the field, which I continue to explore to this day. Being a part of the NSLJ has impacted my career greatly. Upon graduating GMU, I applied for and was accepted into the Air Force JAG CORPS. My position in the journal and on the board was looked favorably during my interview and the reputation of the NSLJ helped me get accepted and embark on a new career. Through this journal, I have developed strong personal friendships and professional networks, both of which I still rely on to this day. – Dillon Emmanuel

In a nutshell, I would say working as a member of NSLJ helped me work efficiently with groups on complex projects. The amount of coordination needed to get a piece out on time for publication is not entirely unlike bringing all the pieces together for a complex trial. Moreover, I feel my time on the journal served to improve my writing. – Ryan Reynolds

I developed an array of skills while helping launch NSLJ, including time management, project management, people management, Bluebooking, professional communication, marketing, public relations, and so forth. Though, one of the most important skills I developed (that has remained invaluable throughout my personal and professional life) was the ability (and confidence) to convert concept to action. By that, I mean taking an idea (i.e., publishing a student-run law journal focused exclusively on national security law and policy) and developing a plan of action to make that idea a reality.  – Patrick Austin

Developing critical listening skills was crucial to being a successful member of NSLJ.  As a founding member of NSLJ, listening to the goals and objectives of my fellow founding members was the reason the journal was successfully established.  Founding the journal required listening to and appreciating different perspectives and ideas.  In the following years, critical listening to ideas and perspectives from new journal members on how to grow and expand the journal was imperative to moving forward.  Ultimately, developing critical listening skills is fundamental to my practice today and helps me to identify my client issues, as well as develop unique and creative solutions to address their needs and goals.  

Collaboration was also a critical skill that was necessary to the success of NSLJ.  I learned how to work with a diverse group of people to achieve a common goal—establishing a well-respected scholarly journal that advances understanding and dialogue for issues that impact our nation’s security.  Developing collaboration skills to meet deadlines and execute symposiums serves me well in my practice today.  By working with colleagues and clients to set expectations and develop solutions to accomplish end goals, I am a more effective advocate for my clients.  

And of course, the spading, researching, and editing skills I developed while serving on NSLJ serve me today in the legal support I provide to the U.S. Navy. – Jessica Eddy

What advice would you give to NSLJ’s current members, or to Scalia Law students generally, to help them get the most out of their time on campus?

Advice I would give generally is to make time for yourself. The pressures of law school are no joke, but as with anything else, pacing yourself is key. – Ryan Reynolds

My advice comes from an experience that taught me an important lesson I have continued to carry with me since serving as Managing Editor during my last year of law school. Do what is right, even if it isn’t the easy option. If you are the only voice advocating for what you know is right, don’t let the collective silence you, or make you feel like you’re overreacting. You may not prevail, but you will maintain your integrity. And, in the end, you’ll probably be proven right. – Erica Calys

Network, network, network. Take advantage of every opportunity you can to expose yourself to as many areas of law as possible while in law school. Join the law school clubs. Sign up for moot court. Join a journal. Talk to your professors and colleagues to help determine what practice areas might be good for you and find opportunities to volunteer. Get creative on how to fit in these opportunities—there are all kinds of different ways to gain experience that do not involve a traditional internship or clerkship. I worked full-time and attended the part-time program at GMU. You would be surprised at what you can fit into your schedule if you are flexible and committed. These opportunities not only help to round out your skills and experiences, but also expose you to potential areas of practice for your future profession. Once you start your career post-law school, it is not always possible or practical to develop networks or explore other portfolios outside your practice area. Now is the perfect time to figure out what your strengths are and what areas of law might be right for you. You might surprise yourself. – Jessica Eddy

Don’t consider law school as a means to an end; instead, an opportunity to separate yourself for the real world. Depending on what type of law you want to work in, you may be competing against dozens to hundreds of applicants. Your ability to separate yourself from your peers begins in law school.  Join a journal, become a member of a society, or volunteer in a clinic. Although it might not seem like much, those are the areas that some employers want to see (especially helpful if your GPA isn’t that great. – Dillon Emmanuel

The best piece of advice I can give to NSLJ members, and Scalia Law students generally, to get the most out of the on-campus experience is to engage with one another. Have actual conversations. Discuss case law, class assignments, Bluebooking, etc. Join multiple study groups. Develop connections and relationships with your classmates. Why? Because a critical component to the practice of law is managing and cultivating relationships (whether with work colleagues, clients, etc.). Having the capacity to meaningfully engage with someone, even if only for a limited period of time for a specific project, will make you a better lawyer and help you professionally by broadening your network. I experienced this firsthand when helping launch NSLJ. One of the key elements to getting the journal off the ground was engaging directly with the editorial boards of fellow Mason law journals, attending SBA meetings, scheduling meetings with faculty, and so forth. I was fortunate to develop a number of meaningful connections with some incredible people (and brilliant attorneys) whom I still speak to and connect with, on a regular basis. – Patrick Austin