California bar gains member from Camp Commando

31 Jan 2003 | Sgt. Colin Wyers

While the Marine Corps has many ceremonies, deployments sometimes offer unique opportunites to participate in other ceremonies.

Major David Greenlees, 32, from San Diego, discovered shortly after his arrival at Camp Commando, Kuwait, headquarters of the I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), that he had been admitted into the California Bar Association, which entitles him to practice law in the state.

"Taking the California Bar Exam is one of the hardest things I've ever undertaken," said Greenlees.  "After two months of studying, there was four months of waiting.  When the bar results posted, I was flying over Paris at the time.  I found out November 25, after I got to Commando Camp."

Greenlees was inducted into the bar by Lt. Gen. James Conway, I MEF commanding general, at a short ceremony Jan. 29.

"What would normally happen is that you select a judge you look up to and go down to the courthouse," said Greenlees, a reservist with the I MEF Augmentation Command Element.  "But if you're in the military, and you're stationed overseas, your CO (commanding officer) can do it."

At the ceremony, Conway praised Greenlees for his accomplishment.

"As a clerk, he was doing the kinds of things that you would want to see lawyers doing - fighting violent crime, especially among gangs," said Conway.  "I'd say he's also a pretty brave man, because I know a thousand lawyer jokes."

Once his time on active duty is up, Greenlees intends to return to the San Diego district attorney's office, where he served as a graduate law clerk.

"I did medical malpractice my first year of school, and it just didn't grab me," said Greenlees.  "Both of my parents were police officers, so I grew up around law enforcement.  Nothing is more exciting than going after bad guys, and making communities a safe place."

Trained as an artillery officer, Greenlees now works as a situation report officer for I MEF, producing daily reports for the commanding general and his staff on the day's events.  He joined the Marine Corps in 1992 after graduating from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

"I received a Naval ROTC scholarship out of high school," said Greenlees.  "At the time, it just seemed like a great opportunity.  Once I was in college and saw what it was all about, I knew I wanted to lead Marines." 

Greenlees credits his experience as a Marine with helping him achieve his entrance into the association.

"If I hadn't had the experience I had in the Marine Corps, I would not have had the self-discipline to go through law school," said Greenlees.  "It's difficult with children, especially when one of them is born while you're in school.  My experiences in the Marine Corps were able to help me prioritize."