A Reflection of Leadership and Service: Baylor Law Graduates, Connected Through Service

July 15, 2017

A Reflection of Leadership and Service: Baylor Law Graduates, Connected Through Service

WACO, Texas -

Baylor Lawyers, Rear Admiral John Hannink, JD '94, and Commander Gatha Manns, JD '93, reflect on their foundational Baylor Law education and outstanding military careers as they look forward to what is next.

From Baylor Law to Navy JAG

Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Navy JAG Corps

Though they attended Baylor Law School at the same time, the paths of Rear Adm. John Hannink and Cmdr. Gatha Manns crossed only briefly until the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps program. As fellow Baylor Law graduates, they naturally connected during their years of service.

Rear Admiral John Hannink

Rear Adm. John Hannink graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985 and proceeded to serve as a Navy pilot. In 1991, he was accepted into the Navy's Law Education Program, which selects several officers each year to attend law school and then continue serving the Navy as members of the JAG Corps. Having known former Baylor students and admiring Baylor Law's elite advocacy preparation, Hannink chose Baylor Law School, graduating in 1994. He later graduated from The George Washington University Law School with an LLM in International and Comparative Law.

Hannink currently serves as Deputy Judge Advocate General (DJAG) of the Navy and Commander of the Naval Legal Service Command (CNLSC). As DJAG, Hannink also works as the deputy Department of Defense representative for ocean policy affairs. As CNLSC, he leads the Navy attorneys, enlisted legalmen, and civilian employees who provide prosecution and defense services, legal services to individuals, and legal training and support to Navy units around the world.

"Working in any type of public service is an important calling and critical to helping our society function. For judge advocates in any of the military branches, an additional measure of responsibility comes from serving the organizations and individuals who protect the nation," Hannink said. "At its core, being a judge advocate means serving as a member of two professions—the profession of law and the profession of arms."

Teammates for Life

Photo Courtesy of the Longview News-Journal

As for Cmdr. Gatha Manns, from the time she was young, she knew Baylor University would be one of her top university choices. As a two-time Academic High School All-American basketball player, Manns was recruited by major universities across the nation. She chose Baylor because of its Christian foundation, its small size, and its reputation for academic excellence. After graduating from Baylor in 1988, the former Lady Bear decided to attend Baylor Law School. During her second year of law school, Manns joined the Navy JAG Corps. She later graduated from The George Washington University Law School with an LLM in International Environmental Law.

Commander Gatha Manns

Manns is grateful for the extensive experience and opportunities she has been privileged to enjoy during her service as a U.S. Navy JAG Corps officer. She is honored to have an insider's perspective on the government and its interaction with the world community, especially considering her passion for the world's environmental and political landscape. "The Navy JAG Corps has been an interesting career choice. Each time I contemplated changing my legal career path, the Navy offered a new assignment that proved interesting and fun," Manns said. "I had the great fortune of being selected for amazing work assignments, some of which were accomplished in exotic international locations. My Navy JAG Corps colleagues and friends are 'teammates for life.' We share a common bond of affection and unyielding support for the U.S. Armed Forces—we understand the sacrifice. Serving in the Navy JAG Corps was truly a world-class, professional experience that I will forever cherish."

Prepared to Serve the Baylor Law Way

Both Manns and Hannink have taken time to reflect on the ways in which Baylor Law has contributed to their professional lives and prepared them personally. After serving over 20 years as a Navy JAG Corps officer, Manns retired in March 2017. She recently accepted a positon as Department Counsel in the Department of Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals.

"Baylor Law prepared me to serve in a diverse legal practice, which was essential in the practice of law as a judge advocate. Baylor lawyers, like Navy JAG Corps lawyers, ultimately seek practical solutions that further the clients' interests within an ethical framework," she said.

Hannink expects to retire from the Navy within the next several years and appreciates Baylor's role in preparing him for the JAG Corps and whatever comes next.

"Baylor Law provided excellent preparation for service as a judge advocate. First, the courses allowed me to learn subject areas useful for providing legal advice to sailors and their family members and to learn the constitutional and statutory framework underlying many government actions," Hannink said. "Second, Baylor Law's litigation and trial advocacy training afforded a solid foundation for a range of judge advocate duties. Third, the emphasis on professionalism in the practice of law prepared me to work as an attorney keeping the needs of the client foremost in mind."

In addition to the legal foundation he developed at Baylor Law, Hannink also credits the School with contributing toward his personal development as a leader. "I saw the example of professors having leadership positions within the legal field and also within the University, the local community, and beyond. I benefitted from classmates and colleagues who were talented both inside and outside the classroom; one did not need to look hard to gain a re-centering sense of humility and to appreciate the unique abilities and contributions of others. And, similar to my experiences in the Navy, I saw problem solving take place through the collective impact of high individual efforts and a collaborative team approach," he said.

Established in 1857, Baylor Law School was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,400 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law School has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law's trial advocacy program as #3 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked #51 in the magazine's 2018 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best School for Practical Training," and #4 in the nation in its most recent "Best Law School Facilities" listing. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law School received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award's inception in 1984.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 D1 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big XII Conference. Learn more at

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