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22nd General Counsel of the United States Army


San Diego State University

University of San Diego School of Law

Judge Advocate General's School of the Army

James E. McPherson was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 23, 2020. He was appointed by the President of the United States and sworn in as the 34th Under Secretary of the United States Army on March 25, 2020. From January 2, 2018, to March 24, 2020, Mr. McPherson served as the 22nd General Counsel of the Army.

As the Under Secretary of the Army, Mr. McPherson is the Secretary of the Army’s senior civilian assistant and principal adviser on matters related to the management and operation of the Army. He is also the Chief Management Officer of the Army and, in that position, he is the Secretary’s principal adviser on the effective and efficient organization of business operations and transformation initiatives. He also serves as the Senior Official for all Executive and Senior Professional personnel actions and is responsible for developing policies and programs and supervising and directing all civilian senior leaders.

For his two years as the General Counsel of the Army, Mr. McPherson served as the chief lawyer of the Army ultimately responsible for determining the Army’s position on any legal question. He served as legal counsel to the Secretary of the Army, Under Secretary, the five Assistant Secretaries, and other members of the Army Secretariat. He also exercised technical supervision over the Offices of the Judge Advocate General of the Army; the Command Counsel of Army Material Command; and the Chief Counsel of the Army Corps of Engineers.

For the ten years immediately prior to his service as General Counsel of the Army, he was the Executive Director of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), a professional association of the state, territorial, and District of Columbia attorneys general providing a forum for the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and insights on subjects of importance to its members. Before joining NAAG, he served as General Counsel for the DoD Counterintelligence Field Activity where he provided legal advice on counterintelligence, operational, and policy matters, intelligence oversight, contract and fiscal law, ethics, and administrative law.

In 2006, Mr. McPherson completed a distinguished career in the United States Navy, retiring as the Judge Advocate General of the Navy. His career included assignments as a Trial Attorney, Senior Prosecutor, Senior Defense Attorney, and Commanding Officer of a Trial Service Office. His assignments as a Staff Judge Advocate included shore assignments overseas, on major command staffs, and afloat. He served as legal counsel to both the Vice Chief and Chief of Naval Operations. His first flag assignment was as the Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Navy and Commander, Naval Legal Service Command. In 2004, President Bush appointed and the Senate confirmed him as the Navy’s 39th Judge Advocate General – the senior uniformed attorney in the Department of the Navy providing legal counsel and strategic advice to the Chief of Naval Operations and Secretary of the Navy. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit (two awards), and the Meritorious Service Medal (four awards). He began his professional career as an enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army serving at the Presidio of San Francisco, South Korea, and the 1st Infantry Division.

Mr. McPherson is a 1977 graduate of San Diego State University and a 1981 graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law. He holds a Master of Laws degree in military law from the Judge Advocate General’s School of the Army.