JAG Corps

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by buff81, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    What is the best route to the JAG corps?
    Through traditional civilian undergrad school and then law school OR service academy and then law school. How many lawyers does the JAG corps hire from the traditional route - how many SA grads go to law school? If the sincere desire is to serve through the JAG corps - what is the best route?
     
  2. wannabe2013

    wannabe2013 Member

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    You can't go Navy JAG out of the Academy as of right now. You have to do at least one tour (and it would definitely have to be SWO) and even then it would be really difficult to get the lat transfer. As for the Marines, you have to report to TBS having passed the bar (according to their website); however, one of my roomates' sister's fiance just transfered to JAG and he was only a 1st Lieutenant but he didn't come the Academy and I'm not sure if he went in with his law degree or not.
     
  3. sprog

    sprog Member

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    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.
     
  4. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    I'm also an atty and a SA grad. Like the above poster, I got out and went to law school on my own. You can't go to law school directly from USNA.

    The USN has a program similar to the USAF's -- you apply for it after spending at least a couple of years as a line officer. You apply to the program and to law school concurrently. IF you're accepted for the program, USN chooses which law school you attend (from the ones to which you're accepted). They pay tuition and pay you a salary, from which you pay room & board, etc. Upon graduation, you go to JAG school and then pay back the USN 6 years.

    I believe that some of the services may have a program for civilians similar to what they run for med school whereby they pay for law school (tuition) and, upon graduation, you are commissioned a JAG. Honestly, I'm not sure exactly how it works but your local officer recruiter should be able to help.

    There are some definite advantages to starting life as a JAG -- you get a lot of responsibility and get to "try" real cases. You also work both as a prosecutor and defense attorney. The downside (at least for the USN) is that you'll almost certainly spend your first tour on a carrier.
     
  5. Gen2

    Gen2 Member

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    The gamble/payoff of being a SA grad and wanting law school is you will be competing at a higher level for those few spots. But in the end, you won't have any student loans and the pay/benefits go on while you are a student.

    Some JAG have also served their normal mission while attending law school part-time, at night, on their own dime. Once they graduate, then the service will possibly transfer them into the JAG corp.

    Which is more important to you? Serving and possibly not being a law graduate? Or being a law graduate and possibly not being picked up for JAG?
     
  6. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    As noted in various posts preceding, it can be done via SA, but it's rather akin to "camel passing through eye of needle." The SA mission is to produce warriors, and the professions represented by the staff corps (JAG, medical, nurse, medical service corps, etc.) are more efficiently obtained by direct commissioning of those folks after they complete civilian college and graduate school.

    That said, we had a USNA '00 sponsor son who excelled as a a USNA mid (single-digit grad) and Surface Warfare Officer (gotta do good in your chosen warfare specialty first!). He carefully networked with every JAG he met and spent his own leave time every year following-the-JAGs at the local homeport. He volunteered for every sticky JAGMAN investigation on the ship and as well as handling his Division Officer duties superbly, and became the XO's right hand man for write-ups of all kinds of incidents. He took LSAT prep courses. He earned letters of recommendation from key people in his chain of command and local JAGs who were impressed with his demonstrated desire to join the community. Most importantly, he knew his opportunity for accession into the JAG community was small and limited by a relatively short time window. His effort paid off with a Navy-paid scholarship to UVA School of Law, including being paid full LT pay and allowances. He's now a very happy JAG. He was fully prepared to either continue with his SWO career or get out, go to law school on his own and apply.

    If you really, really want to be a military JAG, then the best percentage is to do well in a well-thought-of college and law school, and get the facts on each service's JAG direct commission program. Or, as earlier posters have done, do well as an officer via SA, ROTC or other commissioning source, and apply either while still in uniform or after separation.
     
  7. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    Excellent information everyone.
    Thanks!! :thumb:
     

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