Active-Duty and Law School: How James Rego, JD ’23 Balances It All

Friday, November 12, 2021

Front of the law school at fall with purple cloud above it

James Rego, JD ’23 knew he wanted to attend law school but couldn’t see how he could do it in addition to fulfilling his active-duty obligations as a Navy diver.

That is, until he learned about UNH Franklin Pierce’s Hybrid JD program.

"The flexible Hybrid JD program is the ONLY program that makes it possible for me to fulfill my active-duty obligations and pursue a JD from an ABA-accredited school,” says Rego. “Because of the demands of military life, not even a part-time JD program would allow me the flexibility to continue law school from anywhere in the world. UNH Franklin Pierce’s program offers a combination of asynchronous classes, synchronous evening classes, and minimal in-person requirements that accommodate even my busiest work schedule."

And a busy work schedule he has. “There was one day I spent 14 hours at work: six hours in the water diving on a Destroyer, then rushed home for a synchronous class in Legal Writing II where we were discussing plaintiff strategies.  Thankfully, every faculty member I've interacted with at UNH has understood our endeavor and they are all sympathetic and flexible with our time constraints.”

His reference to the endeavor of earning a JD as collectively “ours” demonstrates the closeness he feels with his classmates—even though most participate in the program part-time and mostly online.  “One of my favorite aspects of this program that I hadn't considered until I was already attending classes, is that this program attracts working professionals, and people who already bring to bear a wealth of personal and professional experiences. We have MDs, PhDs, MBAs, service members, patent agents, and more! I'm constantly astounded by the quality of people I've found myself surrounded by.” 

This kinship he feels with his classmates is strengthened by the Hybrid JD program’s required Immersion periods, where students come to the Concord campus (or another specified location) for in-person learning. “The immersions are packed with all the best parts of the brick-and-mortar law school experience,” Rego says, “while offering a good balance of synchronous and asynchronous classes, interactive pre-recorded lectures, and compelling discussion prompts.”

law students in a classroom

When Rego is not diving or studying, he’s pursuing mixed martial arts, which he states is a “pillar of his identity.” After becoming addicted to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and Muay Thai, Rego eventually took up mixed martial arts and competed professionally. He also competed on behalf of the Navy in BJJ and represented the Navy in Guam, where he received a commendation from the Governor of Guam as an ambassador of sportsmanship. Rego says the lessons he’s learned in mixed martial arts have supported his dedication to the Hybrid JD program: “It definitely taught me how to deal with adversity, build resiliency, and cope with stress.”

Ultimately, the Hybrid JD program appealed to Rego because it fit within his busy lifestyle, something that is true of many of the program’s students, whether they are in the military, working in the field, or parenting. Rego, though, thrives on the challenge of balancing it all: “At the end of the day, I knew law school would be challenging, and that's why I'm here. Nothing worth doing is easy, and nothing gives more satisfaction than doing what others can't or won't do.”