Become a Lawyer in the Military
Over the last decade there has been over a 15% increase in lawyers according to the ABA’s National Lawyer Population.
Many individuals who are aspiring lawyers are now becoming military lawyers. This is made possible through the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG Corps) which is a governmental organization that is concerned with military law and military justice.
The lawyers in this system are military officers who are known as Judge Advocates. They are responsible for maintaining cases and advising service members on legal issues.
Although all potential candidates must be in law school or have graduated, each branch of service has its own process to becoming a Judge Advocate.
The Air Force has four entry options that are for:
- Licensed attorneys
- Active duty military
- Air Force Reserves
The first option requires that students be on track to graduate or have recently graduated from an ABA-approved law school.
The second option is for licensed attorneys who directly enter the JAG Corps once selected after the application process.
The third option is for active duty members who if selected, will go to law school at the expense of the Air Force.
The fourth option is for the Air Force Reserves which allows experienced lawyers to work part time with the JAG Corps while maintaining their current job.
To apply, an application is submitted online, and a schedule must be made to have an interview with a Staff Judge Advocate. If selected, all candidates must attend Officer Training School (OTS) which is an eight-week training course at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama.
After OTS, the new officers will go to Judge Advocate Staff Officer Course (JASOC) which is also located in Montgomery, Alabama. It is a nine-week course where they will be taught Air Force legal practice.
Once training is completed, Judge Advocates will go on to serve a four-year active duty commitment. The U.S. Air Force online will have more information in regard to application deadlines and entry programs.
The Army offers an Active Duty and Army Reserve component for interested applicants. Both have to go through the same process, however, the Army Reserves allows Judge Advocates to maintain their civilian jobs while working part time with the Army.
To apply for the JAG Corps, an application must be submitted, and an interview must be conducted with an Army Judge Advocate.
Once selected, candidates must go through the Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course which is comprised of two phases: The Direct Commissioned Course (DCC) and the Charlottesville Phase.
The first phase, DCC, is a 6-week course held in Fort Benning, Georgia where they will learn leadership skills and military tactics.
Upon completion, they will go onto the Charlottesville Phase, which is located at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center in Charlottesville, VA. Judge Advocates will undergo a 10.5-week course comprised of learning military law in regard to the U.S. Army as well as the organization and mission of the JAG Corps.
Visit the U.S. Army online to learn more about the application process.
There are a variety of programs offered through the Navy designed to better suit potential candidates.
The Student Program allows law students to commission in the inactive Naval Reserve while attending law school.
The Direct Appointment Program permits experienced licensed attorneys to be selected directly into the Navy JAG Corps.
The Law Education Program is designed for current active duty Naval Officers so they may enter law school and become Judge Advocates.
After applying, selection, and commission, candidates will go onto training.
Those who have never served as an officer, will attend Officer Development School (ODS) which is a five-week course at the Naval Station in Newport, Rhode Island. This course offers necessary training as an officer as well as essential aspects of leadership.
After ODS, individuals will go to the Basic Lawyer Course at Naval Justice School onboard Naval Station Newport. This is a ten-week course that trains the fundamentals of military law and relevant civil law.
For more information and eligibility requirements, visit the Navy website.
There are two paths that potential candidates can take to enter the JAG Corps in the Marine Corps.
The first is the Platoon Leaders Class which is an option for those who are in their first or second year of law school or are a senior who have been accepted into and ABA-accredited law school.
The second is the Officer Candidate Course which is for third-year law students or bar-certified lawyers.
Students must complete Officer Candidates School which is a rigorous ten-week institute in Quantico, Virginia that evaluates candidates on leadership, academics, and training.
After completion, officers will go to The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia which is a 6-month program that is continuation of training for officers.
From there, officers will receive a ten-week training course at the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island that teaches the military justice system.
Contact a Marine recruiter or visit Marine Corps online for more information.