Professor Eric Jensen returned to BYU Law to share his experience of serving as Special Counsel to Jennifer O’Connor, the Department of Defense’s General Counsel, on February 27, 2017. Professor Jensen took a year-long leave of absence starting in September 2016 to lend his expertise on international law, the law of armed conflict, and cyber attacks to the Department of Defense. He shared a few things he has learned from this experience.
Professor Jensen emphasized that “the government is built to be redundant and not efficient.” While this can cause frustrations, Jensen asked students to consider why redundancy is important.
“Ideally, the things the federal government does are important, so you want redundancy. You don’t want something important to fall through the cracks,” he said. “Redundancy is really to make sure that those key tasks get done.”
Professor Jensen also spoke on the importance of bureaucracy and process. “You can’t just assume that someone has the authority to do something,” he said. He emphasized the importance of going to the sources of law, such as statutes and the Constitution, to determine who has authority and in what regard. Bureaucracies often become highly skilled in their particular areas, and they tend to possess expertise in working through challenging issues that make them valuable to the government process.
Finally, Professor Jensen urged students to broaden their understanding of current events by going to more news sources, including those that have a bias. After going to multiple sources, Professor Jensen urged students to “Start to digest what you think the real truth and answers are.”