JAG Corps

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by BDHuff09, Jul 24, 2013.

  1. BDHuff09

    BDHuff09 Member

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    I'm considering different careers in the Military, and one of them that I am curious about is being a JA in either the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps.

    Are any members of this forum current/former Judge Advocates? If so, could you discuss your experiences/views on your career?

    Can any other servicemembers speak to how JAs are viewed/treated in the military?

    Once you become a Judge Advocate, what determines your specific job, i.e. prosecutor, defense attorney, operational law, etc?

    I would like to attend USMA or USNA or possibly ROTC, and I do understand that most JAs do not come from those commissioning sources, but I have found a lot of information on the Army's Funded Legal Education Program (FLEP) online, and that made me curious. Can anyone speak to how competitive it is to win a FLEP spot? Does the Navy have a similar program?

    I would also like to say that I am not dead set on being a lawyer and if I understand that if I was it would be best to commission after college, I am just trying to gather information about various careers.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Seavoyager

    Seavoyager Member

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    I know a handful of officers who were/are JAGs. A good few of them were instructors at USNA when I attended, both navy and marines. They all had good things to say about the JAG route.

    I think they all went through law school first and then commissioned through OCS into the JAG community. Not sure on their specific billets right out of OCS but they got a wide variety of experiences whether down range or on their shore tour. My guess is that they get treated much the same as any other officers...but I'm not a JAG so don't take my word for it.

    If you are planning on attending a service academy though, unless you get medically disqualified for unrestricted line communities (for navy: surface warfare, aviation, subs etc), you will not have the opportunity to become a JAG, chaplain, CEC officer or restricted line billet (except medical corp).

    It also depends if your looking for a career in the military....keep in mind that you'll have a harder time reaching the top (0-6 and up) in restricted line communities than an unrestricted line community.
     
  3. MabryPsyD

    MabryPsyD Dr. G.

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    Since JAG is a special branch, wouldn't it be a direct commission vs OCS?
     
  4. Seavoyager

    Seavoyager Member

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    All Marines must go through OCS regardless of billet. I think your correct with the Direct Commission route for the Navy at least. They spend a few weeks 'becoming an officer' in RI before heading to Justice school which is also in RI.

    Some info previously posted about the JAG community:

    "It is very difficult to become a JAG officer if you start as a line officer (read, SA/ROTC/OTS/OCS graduate). This does not mean it's impossible; but, speaking from my experience in the USAF, only a handful of officers are selected to attend law school at the military expense every year. The program in the AF is called FLEP (funded legal education program), and you have to be at least a First Lieutenant to apply (I think, although senior 2LTs might be able to), so you generally need at least 2 years of active duty in another career field to even be considered.

    Generally speaking, it is easier to already be a law student and/or have your JD/bar admission to get picked up as a JAG. Really, I don't believe any service academy allows for a direct entry into law school. Years ago, ROTC students could go to law school on an educational delay; however, it was at the expense of the student. I'm not even sure that is available now (although it might be).

    I'm an attorney currently, and had considered applying for the FLEP while I was on active duty (was a missileer in the USAF). I decided that I'd rather be a civilian attorney; but, I did investigate the available military programs. I think, then, the "best" route (if there is such a thing) is to go to law school after undergraduate school and then apply for JAG as a 2L or 3L, if that is the only thing you want to do in the service. Some branches (Army) do offer loan forgiveness, and some will commission you as an O-1 while still a law student (there would be required summer training with a legal office near to your law school/home of record). From my research (which is a bit dated) the Navy (and maybe Air Force) get so much interest that they do not offer loan repayment (which, given law school tuition, can be substantial). Becoming a JAG is very competitive, as the legal market is saturated, and there are many qualified attorneys who are not accepted (thus, it is somewhat unlike the recruitment of dental/medical officers by the military). This isn't to dissuade you-just something to keep in mind.

    Summation-ROTC/SA is not a particularly good route to become a JAG if that is the only thing that interests you. If you don't mind serving in another career field for a few years, it's not a bad way and is technically possible; BUT, it is still a long climb to get the service to pay for law school (they can get attorneys interested in entering the service without having to flip the bill).

    This is what I've learned in my experience. Other opinions are welcome."

    Hope this helps!
     

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