Military and Veterans Law Society

JAG Career Information

Disclaimer: This information is intended to be a general overview of opportunities and application procedures for each military branch. Policies and procedures can change without notice, and anyone interested in a JAG career should, therefore, rely on the official information provided on the respective recruiting websites for each branch.

Last Updated: September 2016

Air Force JAG Corps
Army JAG Corps
Coast Guard JAG
Marine Corps JAG
Navy JAG Corps

Air Force JAG Corps

In the Air Force JAG Corps (AF JAGC) the lawyers are generalists. This means they do not focus on a specific career track immediately upon entering the JAGC. They work in many fields, including military justice, civil law, legal assistance, and claims and torts. There are opportunities while in the AF JAGC to get LLMs and to specialize in fields such as air & space law, environmental law, international law, and operations law. See http://www.airforce.com/jag/careers/practice_areas.

Current active duty Air Force officers can enter the JAGC through multiple avenues. The most common is the Funded Legal Education Program (FLEP) followed by the Excess Leave Program (ELP). Before starting law school, ROTC students can postpone active duty to go to law school through the AFROTC Educational Delay Program. 1L students can guarantee a career in the AF JAGC through a two-year ROTC program called the Graduate Law Program. 2L students have a similar option through the One-year College Program. Graduating law students and practicing attorneys can join JAGC through the Direct Appointment Program (DAP). The DAP Board sits in April, October and December.

For FLEP, you must complete your online application and hiring interview with a Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) by March 1. See http://www.airforce.com/jag/entry_programs/active_duty_military/flep#how_to_apply for more details on application materials and requirements. For the Ed Delay Program, you must apply through your local AFROTC detachment. The selection board is held each February, and if selected you would be assigned as a reservist to the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT). For more details on the application requirements and process, see http://www.airforce.com/jag/entry_programs/students/afrotc_educational_delay_program#how_to_apply.

For the Graduate Law Program,  you must apply (at http://www.airforce.com/jag/entry_programs/students/graduate_law_program#how_to_apply) during your 1L year , interview with an SJA at any Air Force Base, and be selected by the February Selection Board. Additionally, you must attend a law school that offers AFROTC or be accepted into the AFROTC at a nearby school.

For the 1 Year Law Program, you must apply (at http://www.airforce.com/jag/entry_programs/students/one_year_college_program#how_to_apply) during your 2L year, interview with an SJA at any Air Force Base, and be selected by the February Selection Board. Additionally, you must attend a law school that offers AFROTC or be accepted into the AFROTC at a nearby school.

For the Direct Appointment Program, you may apply (at http://www.airforce.com/jag/entry_programs/students/direct_appointment_program#how_to_apply) your 3L year or anytime after graduation before the age of 35, interview with an SJA at any Air Force Base, and be selected by either the April, October, or December Selection Boards. For DAP, your application materials must be completed by the 10th of the month prior to the Selection Board (e.g. 10 March) and must complete your interview by the 1st of the month of the Selection Board (e.g. 1 April).

AF JAGC does accept legal interns and externs! During the school year, you can work as a legal extern for 1-3 credits. You will need to coordinate with the base at which you would like to work in order to arrange that externship, and then follow W&M Law's externship policies. Contact Dean Kaplan if you have specific questions. The JAGC offers full-time work to law students after both their 1L and 2L summers. Availability of paid internships or unpaid externships (for which you can get school credit if you would like) depend on that year's budget. See http://www.airforce.com/jag/entry_programs/students/externships for more information.

The closest Air Force base to William & Mary Law School is Langley Air Force Base. The 633rd ABW/JA is the Air Force base legal office, and their phone number is (757) 764-3277.

For more information about the Air Force JAG Corps, please contact MVLS member Mary Johnston at mejohnston@email.wm.edu. She can answer your specific questions and put you in contact with individuals who will be, or are in, the AF JAGC.

Army JAG Corps

The U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAGC), founded in 1775 by order of General George Washington, is the nation's oldest and largest law firm. The JAGC is the Army's source of legal support to operations. As an officer in the JAGC and a practicing attorney, your responsibilities will cover everything affecting military operations, focusing on the following areas: criminal law, legal assistance, civil and administrative law, labor and employment law, international and operational law, and contract and fiscal law. The JAGC offers a wide range of opportunities-whether serving as prosecutor or defense counsel at a court-martial, advising a commander on an international law issue, helping a Soldier with a personal legal matter, or handling many other challenging and rewarding responsibilities. Duty locations include the continental United States and many installations and locations overseas.

Most law firms offer some sort of orientation and training, and the JAGC is no different. The Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course (JAOBC) is comprised of two phases:

Direct Commissioned Officer Course (DCC).  The training commences with six weeks of DCC located at Fort Benning, Georgia. DCC’s goal is to develop competent leaders. It is a rigorous six-week course in leadership and tactics designed to challenge new Army officers physically and mentally. The DCC curriculum includes physical fitness training, foot marches, combat training, land navigation training (similar to orienteering), rifle marksmanship, weapons training, practical exercises in leadership, nuclear, biological and chemical operations, use of night-vision equipment and several confidence courses featuring difficult obstacles that will challenge students to overcome personal fears.

Charlottesville Phase The Direct Commissioned Officer Course is followed by a ten-and-a-half week academic course at The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS) in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is known as the TJAGLCS phase of JAOBC. TJAGLCS is located on the grounds of the University of Virginia, adjacent to their law school. During this phase, new JAs receive instruction on the organization, function, and mission of the U.S. Army JAG Corps, and an overview of the practice of law in the U.S. Army. The instruction focuses on areas of law that will be particularly important to a new JA, including military criminal law, government contract and fiscal law, legal assistance, claims, administrative law, and international and operational law. Computer training and practical exercises in trial advocacy and attorney-client issues are also featured.

Aspiring law students can apply as early as their 3L year for active duty, Army JAG Reserves, and the Army National Guard JAGC.You will need to complete an interview with an approved Field Screening Officer (FSO) prior to submitting your application. An FSO typically conducts interviews at the Law School in September, for which you can sign-up via symplicity. The application deadline is typically in November for active duty. The Reserves and National Guard typically have a rolling application process.

Internships: Army JAG also offers summer internships, but only for those who have finished their 2L year. This internship is also the only paid summer JAG internship program. If interested in the Summer Internship Program, the required interview takes place at the Law School in September of your 2L year, for which you can sign-up via symplicity. The application deadline is typically in the beginning of November of your 2L year. This is a nation-wide application process, and your application will be submitted to a national applicant pool. If selected, you will have the opportunity to request to intern at specific Army bases around the country, as well as several overseas locations. Your ultimate intership post will, however, be decided based on the Army JAGC's needs and the number of requests for specific locations.

All Army JAGC applications and information can be found at the Judge Advocate Recruiting Office (JARO) Website: https://www.jagcnet.army.mil/JARO. This includes the applications for active duty, Army Reserves, the 2L Summer Internship Program, and the Army National Guard JAGC.

Additionally, Army JAG offers externships during the fall and winter semesters. You will need to contact the specific base at which you wish to work in order to inquire about availability and their specific application requirements. The closest Army legal office to the Law School is located at Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia, which has a Command Judge Advocate Office as well as a Trial Defense Services Field Office.

For more information about the Army JAG Corps, please contact MVLS Vice President Tom Sandbrink at tmsandbrink@email.wm.edu. If you are interested in interning at, externing at, or contacting Fort Eustis, please contact MVLS President Raymond Bilter at rebilter@email.wm.edu. They can answer your specific questions, help you with the application process, and put you in contact with individuals who will be, or are currently serving as, Army Judge Advocates.

Coast Guard JAG

The Coast Guard's legal program reflects the service's missions. Judge Advocates frequently are involved in such diverse areas as Military Justice, Trial Advocacy, Tort Law, Administrative Law, Maritime and International Law, Environmental Law, Labor Law, Procurement Law, and Law Enforcement, among other areas. The Coast Guard’s legal program is also unique from the other four branches in that there is no specific “JAG Corps.” Every Coast Guard Judge Advocate is a Line Officer, just like every other Coast Guard officer. Thus, Coast Guard Judge Advocates may have the opportunity to be trained for and perform other duties outside of the legal field, if that individual desires. However, these opportunities arise only when there is availability, and after specific prerequisites are met.

Selectees are required to serve on active duty as Coast Guard officers and receive four-year contracts. Currently, selectees are commissioned as Lieutenants in the Coast Guard Reserve and receive three years of constructive active service credit (for promotion purposes only). They attend a five week Direct Commission Officer Course at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, followed by a two-week Operations Orientation Program on board various Coast Guard Cutters, and a ten-week Basic Lawyer Course at the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island. From there, the newly commissioned judge advocates report to their initial duty stations.

The Direct Commission Lawyer (DCL) program accepts applications throughout the year, via a local Coast Guard recruiter. The recruiting cycle runs with the federal fiscal year, starting 01 October until the following 30 September. Between one and three deadlines for application and their subsequent selection panels occur in the first half (October- March) of the fiscal year, with accession and training in the last half of the same fiscal year (July or August). To find a recruiter and updated information regarding panel deadlines, visit www.gocoastguard.com.

It is noteworthy that, commensurate with the Coast Guard’s end strength, it has the smallest number of Judge Advocates of the five military branches (approximately 200). As a result, there are a small number of annual openings. Each year the Coast Guard hires 5 to 12 new DCLs from a pool of 60 to 160 completed and fully qualified applications out of hundreds of interested candidates (numbers are approximate based on averaging historical data). Third year law students can initiate an application as soon as the previous third year class graduates. The earlier one starts an application, the more opportunity for consideration and selection in that fiscal year. The application must be submitted in coordination with a local Coast Guard recruiter, who facilitates a formal interview. Once considered and selected, training will begin after the July bar exam dates. Training for the Direct Commissioned Officer course begins in August.

For more information on the application process and to access the application forms, see http://www.uscg.mil/legal/recruit/DCL_Application.asp.

The Coast Guard offers internships and externships to 1Ls and 2Ls. You will need to contact the specific base at which you wish to work in order to inquire about availability and their specific application requirements. The closest Coast Guard bases that have a legal office are Training Center Yorktown in Yorktown, Virginia, and Legal Service Command in Norfolk, Virginia. A full list of legal office locations can be found at http://www.uscg.mil/legal/organization.asp. For more information about internships/externships, see the FAQ on CGJAG internships at http://www.uscg.mil/legal/recruit/DCL_FAQ.asp.

For more information about Coast Guard JAG, please contact MVLS President Raymond Bilter at rebilter@email.wm.edu. He can answer your specific questions and put you in contact with individuals who will be, or are currently serving as, Coast Guard Judge Advocates.

Marine JAG Corps

Law Students who wish to become Marine Corps JAGs can apply through the PLC – Law Pathway. Law students who scored higher than 150 on the LSAT and are in their first or second year are eligible to apply. Those applicants who are accepted then attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) for 10 weeks over the summer in Quantico, Virginia, where they develop and learn the leadership skills of a Marine Officer. Upon completion of OCS, candidates are sworn in as Second Lieutenants and placed on inactive duty in the Marine Corps Reserve.

Upon completion of law school and the passage of the bar exam, new officers then attend The Basic School where they will complete academic work and intense field exercise. Following Basic School, the next step is Naval Justice School (NJS) where officers learn the fundamentals of military law, including the Uniform Code of Military Justice, criminal law and procedure, operational law, trial advocacy and administrative law.

Upon completion of NJS, Marine JAGs are then assigned to their first duty station to positions in the areas of military law, legal assistance and/or operational law depending on the needs of the Marine Corps.

To apply, you will need to contact an Officer Selection Officer (OSO) who will provide information and guide you through physical training regimen and prepare you for the challenge of becoming a Marine Corps Officer.

For more info regarding your OSO, see http://www.marines.com/eligibility/meeting-oso.

Regarding internships or externships, the Marine Corps does not offer these opportunities to law students except for those who were already selected from within the Marine Corps to attend law school and become a JAG officer.

For more information, see http://www.marines.com/being-a-marine/roles-in-the-corps/command-element/judge-advocate. You may also contact MVLS Vice President Tom Sandbrink at tmsandbrink@email.wm.edu, who can answer specific questions you may have.

Navy JAG Corps

The Navy JAG Corps’ Student Program (SP) is the most common way to become a Navy JAG Corps officer. It enables selected law students to commission in the inactive Navy Reserve while attending law school. Upon law school graduation, bar admission and successful completion of Navy Officer Development School (ODS), participants are appointed as active-duty Navy judge advocates.

Becoming a judge advocate is a two phase process. The first phase is to apply for a Professional Recommendation to become a judge advocate. If you are Professionally Recommended you then apply for a commission as an officer in the U.S. Navy. Once accepted into the program, SP participants continue law school until graduation and take the first bar examination after law school. After the bar examination, SP participants begin their Navy training.

SP participants first attend the five-week Navy Officer Development School (ODS) in Newport, RI. The next step in the training pipeline is the ten-week Basic Lawyer Course at Naval Justice School (NJS), also in Newport, RI. Upon graduation from NJS, new judge advocates report to their first duty station.

For more information on the application process, application deadline, and to access the application forms, see http://www.jag.navy.mil/careers_/careers/opportunities_sp.html.

The Navy JAG Corps also offers summer internships, and it offers externships in the fall and winter. Applications are submitted online and are evaluated as part of a national applicant pool. As a result, there are specific deadlines for each semester or summer, which are posted in the internship/externship website at http://www.jag.navy.mil/careers_/careers/opportunities_internship.html. The closest Navy JAG office is the Region Legal Service Office Middle Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia.

For more information about the Navy JAG Corps, please contact MVLS President Raymond Bilter at rebilter@email.wm.edu. He can answer your specific questions, help you through the application process, and put you in contact with individuals currently serving as Navy Judge Advocates.