Husband and Wife Marine Corps Veterans Take on Law School

BY:  
CREATED:  

Douglas and Lindsay Nelson Lehtinen are not your average law students. They have flown fighter jets from Al Asad Airbase in Iraq, taught at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and served our country as officers in the Marine Corps for 19 and 13 years, respectively. In addition to all of that, they’ve been married for nine years and are the proud parents of three vibrant daughters ages six, three, and one.

Full-Time Parents & Law Students   

While most law students are struggling to find time for a social life amidst their demanding course loads, the Lehtinens are using the discipline and training they learned in the Marine Corps to work law school into their lives as reserve officers and full-time parents.

“We try to structure law school like it’s a job,” said Lindsay Lehtinen. “Whereas some students take a lot of breaks for personal time, or go out to lunch, or sit on the bricks for hours, we don’t do any of that. When we come to school, we work, until four or five or six o’clock—whatever time it is we’re going home that day.”

“We bring our own lunch, we work through lunch and then when we’re done, we pick up the girls and spend the evening with them until they go to bed. Once they go to bed we usually go back to studying.” Lindsay Lehtinen says the couple tries to preserve their weekends for family time although that’s not always possible.

When it is possible, however, the Lehtinens like to spend the weekends doing outside activities with their daughters. Most recently, they picked the kids up from school and took them camping in the Everglades overnight. “We went for a long hike and rode bikes in the Everglades,” said Lindsay Lehtinen. “We try to be as outdoorsy as possible. It seems that is one thing lacking in public school education these days.” As parents, they limit the amount of exposure their children have to the lure of kid-targeted advertising on the television and the internet.

Second-Career Students

Both Doug and Lindsay Lehtinen are currently officers in the Marine Corps Reserves. Doug Lehtinen has served the past two years in a reserve unit in West Palm Beach, the past year as a platoon commander in charge of 60 Marines, while Lindsay Lehtinen serves as a flight school instructor in Pensacola, Florida.  Because Doug Lehtinen has served for a total of 19 years in the Marines, he may be one year away from retirement with the military. However, his career as an attorney is just about to begin.

With a father who is an attorney, Doug Lehtinen always had law school in mind as an option but began his military career early. Attending UM for undergrad, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves while pursuing his Bachelor’s degree. He transitioned into active duty and became an officer about a year after graduation. Now a 3L set to graduate in May, he is looking forward to an exciting career as a lawyer.
 
Lindsay Lehtinen also set out on a military career early in life. She attended the United States Naval Academy and earned a commission in the Marine Corps after graduation.

Now the mother of three and military officer who is set to graduate in December of 2016, Lindsay Lehtinen jokingly refers to herself as, “somewhere between a two-and-a-half L and a 3L.” She owes her extra semester to the arrival of the couple’s youngest daughter, Killian, who was born in August of 2014. Lindsay took the Fall 2014 semester off to care for their baby.  

As if all of that wasn’t enough, when the Lehtinens aren’t serving in the military, or learning how to be top-notch legal advocates, or hiking with their daughters, they’re running marathons. Lindsay Lehtinen has done 26.2-mile runs all over the country, including the Boston Marathon.  As a couple, the Lehtinens twice ran the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

Time at Miami Law
   
Over their time at Miami Law, the Lehtinens have taken many of the same courses. One course in particular that stood out for the two was the Health Rights Clinic directed by Professor JoNel Newman. Through their work as interns in the clinic, they were able to serve a marginalized group of society’s disabled population in a variety of cases, ranging from public benefits to immigration. Some of those clients were also veterans. Part of what the clinic does is advocate for disabled veterans seeking VA benefits by working with doctors, medical residents, and social workers.

Future Attorneys at Law

With graduation and the Bar in view, the couple is thinking about their next career journey. Doug Lehtinen would love to work at the U.S. Attorney’s office somewhere down the line but until then the two are open to any opportunity.

“We like the idea of public service,” said Lindsay Lehtinen. “Translating that sort of ideal from the military into some part of the community down here in Miami would be great.”

Update: Lindsay Lehtinen is expecting their fourth child in June, pushing her graduate date to May 2017. It’s a boy, finally.