When he graduated from high school in 2006, Jerome Hanley seemed to be tacking toward a career in technology, design, or engineering. He enrolled at technical college, but soon decided he needed to change course. “I realized I still had a lot of growing up to do,” he explains. “I wasn’t getting out of college what I should have, and I didn’t want to be wasting anybody’s time.”

After considering his options, Hanley made the decision to serve his country. Joining the Marines “had always been something I wanted to do,” he says. “Not something I had to do, but something that, if I didn’t do it, I’d regret for the rest of my life.” And so, at age 20, Hanley enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

Gaining perspective

Hanley spent the next five years as a member of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, where he attained the rank of corporal. He served as a scout sniper during two major tours of duty, first in Afghanistan, then as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit sailing throughout the Mediterranean. In addition to the common military virtues of discipline and agility, his tours conferred on him a hard-earned sense of perspective.

Recalling the ordeals of losing comrades and being wounded in action, Hanley says: “One of the things it taught me is to value the time that you have with people and never take it for granted.” He punctuates that insight with an understated summation: “When you lose people like that, it definitely opens your eyes a little bit.”

Jerome Hanley, Musa Qala, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, 2011

A new life in law

After leaving active duty, Hanley resumed his undergraduate studies, completing his bachelor’s degree at UMass Boston. Now he felt prepared to tackle his next big ambition: law school.

“When I was considering going to law school, I knew I wanted to stay local in Boston,” Hanley recalls. “Everyone I knew said Suffolk had an invaluable network in the city. I’ve talked to numerous judges who are Suffolk grads, people at the firm where I work are Suffolk grads. Everywhere you go you meet someone in the legal community from Suffolk. It seemed like the right place to go.”

Now in his second year, Hanley is engaging with the law school experience with the same commitment he applied to his military service. In addition to going to class full-time at night, he works 30 hours a week in an internship at the Boston law firm of Prince Lobel Tye. He also reserves time for serving as vice president of the Suffolk Law Veterans Association (SLVA). The SLVA president, Justin Rhuda, is an old high school friend of Hanley’s and also a veteran of the Marine Corps; when the vice-president’s position opened up, Rhuda asked Hanley to take it on. Hanley is currently involved in planning the SLVA’s annual alumni networking event.

Today, Hanley envisions a career that harks back to his original technological orientation. “My goal from the beginning has been to go into intellectual property litigation,” he says, an aspiration that he is fostering through involvement with Suffolk’s Journal of High Technology Law. Practicing in IP law will require still more study, says Hanley. “To sit for the patent bar, I need to earn more hard-science credit hours in something like physics.” Asked where he might accomplish this next mission, he says: “Suffolk would be good.”