Larissa Tiller will be doing something new every day once she completes her U.S. Coast Guard Direct Commission training.

In January, she will become an active duty lawyer for the Coast Guard, stationed in Norfolk, Virginia.

Tiller interned for the Coast Guard in New Orleans in the summer of 2018. She loved it so much that she decided to stick around after passing the Missouri Bar Exam.

“Every day, there was something new coming across my desk,” Tiller said. “One day, it was contracts; another day, it was a criminal case.

“I went to law school because I wanted to serve as an attorney in the military,” said Tiller, whose brothers serve as military police in the National Guard. “I thought the work sounded interesting and varied, and I felt like it would give my life a sense of purpose.”

On Monday, Tiller officially signed her contract and took an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

Brent Filbert, a retired U.S. Navy captain who now works as a professor at the MU School of Law’s Veterans Clinic, swore Tiller in at MU’s Hulston Hall courtroom.

“The Coast Guard has my favorite motto of any branch of the military,” Filbert said. “Semper Paratus — it means ‘always prepared.’”

Filbert believes in Tiller’s ability to carry out those values.

“That’s who the Coast Guard is getting in (Tiller). She is an outstanding student and person,” Filbert said. “I am supremely confident there will be more recognition in the future,” he said.

While enrolled at the MU School of Law, Tiller spent a semester representing veterans in their claims to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

She said her biggest project while at the Veterans Clinic was an article titled “Out of the Blue” for the American Bar Association.

The article detailed the importance of a court case that ruled in favor of Vietnam War Navy veterans in the fight for medical coverage relating to exposure to Agent Orange. Prior to 2019, Navy veterans were excluded from coverage, but research proved that runoff from the coast of Vietnam seeped into the drinking and bathing water aboard U.S. ships, causing devastating health problems.

Tiller has a long journey ahead before she officially begins her practice.

She will go to Norfolk for two weeks to get acclimated to her new office. From Norfolk, she will continue to New London, Connecticut, to complete a five-week officer training. From Connecticut, she will go on to the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island, where Navy, Marine and Coast Guard attorneys are trained. Then it’s back to Norfolk to officially begin.

As for future aspirations, Tiller said, “My current plan is to remain with the Coast Guard throughout my legal career. However, should I choose to take a different path in the future, any time spent working for the Coast Guard will doubtless prove highly beneficial in preparing me for whatever I decide to pursue.”

Around 20 professors, friends and family attended in support of Tiller.

Supervising editor is Hannah Hoffmeister.

  • I study investigative journalism and minor in business and philosophy. I love learning about different aspects of our society and meeting new people.

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