Class of 2001
Major: Political Science, Spanish
Since graduating from Franciscan University in 2001, Navy Lieutenant Tom Byrnes has been involved in many things he had never expected, such as working with Iraqi officials in Baghdad as a Navy JAG lawyer.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for people who serve in the military,” Byrnes says. “I was in my first year of law school when September 11 happened, and going into the military seemed like a good way to build experience and contribute.”
After graduating from Ave Maria Law School in 2004, he attended officer school in Rhode Island as a member of the Navy JAG Corps. In March 2005, he was assigned to Gulfport, Mississippi; he deployed to Iraq from October 2006 to June 2007.
When he returned from Iraq, Byrnes was stationed in San Diego, working as a legal advisor and criminal prosecutor. In July 2009, he received the Outstanding Young Military Service Lawyer Award for the Navy from the American Bar Association, and in the spring of 2010, he was named Trial Counsel of the Year for the Navy.
The thing he most enjoys about his work as a lawyer, Byrnes says, is working with a group of people dedicated to service. At the end of June 2010, he transferred from active duty to the Naval Reserve, and moved to Denver with his family to join a law firm.
Byrnes credits Franciscan’s Political Science Program with giving him firm principles to rely on when he faces tough issues.
“[Political Science] was a challenging degree, a little intimidating sometimes, but I got to law school and really appreciated it,” Byrnes says. “I would absolutely recommend it for its focus on political philosophy principles, learning from history, and moral principles for addressing practical issues.”