Spotlight Feature: Brigadier General Linell Letendre
Graduation Year: 2001
WLR Position: Executive Notes and Comments Editor
Brigadier General Linell Letendre is the Dean of the Faculty at the United States Air Force Academy. She started working at the United States Air Force Academy in 2015 and was made Dean in 2019. In addition to her role as Dean, General Letendre teaches Law for Air Force Officers, a core class for students.
General Letendre loved her experience as an editor for Washington Law Review. She places equal importance on both how WLR helped her writing and editing skills as well as how it contributed to her being a critical thinker. Through WLR, General Letendre learned how to understand both sides of a case or issue and then translate what she learned into accurate, clear, and persuasive writing. As an editor on WLR General Letendre also learned how to give professional feedback to her peers and professional authors.
Later, those skills became foundational to General Letendre’s career. Eight years after graduating from the University of Washington, she worked as an attorney for the United States Air Force. During a meeting, the Department of Defense General Counsel, The Honorable Jeh Johnson, gave General Letendre and the other attendees a memo and asked for their thoughts. Taking this request literally,
General Letendre edited and returned the memo. Mr. Johnson later requested to be put in contact with ‘that attorney who edited his memo’ and thereafter personally invited General Letendre to join the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal review committee. Mr. Johnson’s request speaks to General Letendre’s skill as a writer, legal analyst, and attorney.
General Letendre identifies being the legal advisor for the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal review committee as a pivotal and significant moment in her career. She was a key author on the report that set the stage for legislative change. Not only did General Letendre contribute to the research regarding the validity of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but her writing also elaborated on the practical impact the repeal would have upon military operations. The work of General Letendre and her colleagues on the review committee was crucial in ensuring a smooth repeal of the now defunct Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.
For General Letendre, legal scholarship provides a forum to intentionally engage in critical conversations. In fact, she recently co-authored a forthcoming law review article in the Florida Journal of Law and Policy about the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as an illustration of multiparty negotiations.
Even a short conversation with General Letendre makes clear the care she puts into her work. As a dean, professor, and attorney, General Letendre encourages law students to be fearless learners and to seek out opportunities for experiential learning. She describes learning as a cycle during which a student learns theory, applies that theory, and then realizes that they have more to learn. General Letendre urges students to enjoy all parts of the process—she says to keep learning and keep getting back out there to use what you’ve learned.
Washington Law Review would like to thank General Letendre for her contributions to the legal landscape and her commitment to legal scholarship as a means for change.