Honoring Our Texas Law Veterans

Texas Law students bring many life experiences with them as they begin their legal education, including service in the U.S. Military. In observance of Veterans Day, we honor the call with a special salute to veterans in the Texas Law community.

This year, we feature three veterans who are current 1L students: Thomas McAuley, James Ticknor, and Sean Williams. Each student served in a different branch of the armed forces: McAuley was a captain in the U.S. Army, Ticknor was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, and Williams was a petty officer in the U.S. Navy. In addition, Ticknor and Williams are first-generation college students.

Read more about how these three students found their way to Texas Law and how their experience in the armed forces is an asset to them now.

Thomas McAuley

U.S. Army Veteran, Armor Officer, Captain

Thomas McAuley in uniformWhat led you to this point in your life, in terms of college and military service?
I had a military background in my family. Both my grandfathers were Army officers; one of them immigrated, joined the Army, and had a long career that included service in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. I always looked up to them, so I joined the Army as a tank officer after my undergraduate years. I loved my time in the Army but wanted to move into other work, so I came back to school.

What do you think will you’ll do after law school?
I’m a dual degree student with the LBJ School and focus my education on emerging technology and national security. Policymakers and the law often struggle to keep up with technology, and that has consequences for security. I hope to work on this issue from within the federal government. Texas Law has excellent course offerings in both criminal and national security law to help prepare me for that.

How is your training and experience in the armed forces helping you navigate law school?
My experience has helped me in many ways, but the biggest one is stress management. Some of my previous jobs were pretty stressful, and having that experience helps me put law school in the proper context. That allows me to focus on learning and makes law school way more fun.

James Ticknor

U.S. Air Force Veteran, Staff Sergeant

James Ticknor in uniformHow did your experience in the Air Force help develop skills that you find helpful in law school?
The Air Force taught me to critically read relevant regulations or technical orders. My occupation in the Air Force, and related skills, have led me to think of the law as a complicated, interconnected, and unoptimized machine. In any given case, that approach helps me to think of the relevant law as a component of the machine and consider whether it is being lubricated, retrofitted, or replaced to better optimize, reconcile, or otherwise assess the craftsmanship of antecedents.

Why did you choose Texas Law?
I chose Texas Law because of its impressive and up-trending private sector salary statistics. Also, the state of Texas has among the best veteran benefits in the country.

What are your career goals?
I would like to work in capital markets. However, developing a solid professional philosophy early, finding a great mentor, and possessing strong technical expertise are my true goals.

Sean Williams

U.S. Navy Veteran, Navy Riverine Petty Officer

Sean Williams in uniformWhat was your main assignment in the Navy?
I served in the United States Navy as a Navy Riverine. The Riverine Squadrons were a small boat unit that operated primarily on rivers. My main job was to be a gunner for the boats, and I completed deployments to Iraq in 2010 and Bahrain in 2013.

What parallels have you noticed between your military experience and law school, including skills you developed there that have helped you here?
The ability to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations is a skill that I learned in the military that has been helpful in law school. I treat every day like it is Monday.

What inspired you to pursue a legal education?
I am pursuing a legal education because I am intrinsically interested in it, and I believe that I will be well suited for it.

What would be your advice to other veterans considering a similar path?
Research what you want to do and form a plan for how to do it. Talk to many people, but don’t weigh any one person’s opinion too heavily. Base your decisions on logic, but leave room for your gut. Avoid people who pull others down. Find those who lift people up.

UT Austin Military and Veteran Connections

Within the law school community, the Texas Law Veterans Association is comprised of all current and former military and military-affiliated members. In addition to providing support and mentoring, TLVA works with other student groups to promote and share military- and veteran-related legal issues to Texas Law. The organization also hosts social and special events for its members.

Learn about the University of Texas at Austin’s commitment to the military, its veterans and their families demonstrated with featured news and resources at www.utexas.edu/military.