Law school program creates JAGs from AF officers
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- If anyone ever told you, “you should be a lawyer,” now’s your chance to start planning.
Applications for the Funded Legal Education Program and Excess Leave Program will be accepted from Jan. 1, 2016 through March 1, 2017. Interested officers are encouraged to compete. Note, however, that there are a large number of pre-requisites which will need to be completed during the summer and fall of 2016 in order to apply for either program. The time to start the process is now! The number of FLEP and ELP applicants selected in any academic year is determined based on the needs of the Air Force.
“Air Force missions are constantly changing, and commanders need access to legal advisors with a broad background of military experiences,” said Lt. Col. Erik Coyne, 35th Fighter Wing Staff Judge Advocate. “FLEP and ELP help ensure the JAG Corps has officers whose military experience complements their legal training, providing commanders with high-caliber legal support.”
According to Coyne, Air Force JAGs provide a broad spectrum of legal services. In addition to prosecuting and defending clients in courts-martial, JAG officers participate in nearly every facet of the Air Force mission, including developing and acquiring weapons systems, ensuring availability of airspace and ranges where those systems are tested and operated, consulting with commanders about how those systems are employed in armed conflict, and assisting commanders in running military installations around the world.
JAGs also have an opportunity to provide one-on-one confidential legal assistance to service members around the world with their individual situations.
“Every facet of every Air Force mission is bound by elements of the law,” said Coyne. “And that reality just grows every year.”
FLEP is a paid legal studies program for active-duty Air Force commissioned officers and an assignment action. Participants receive full pay, allowances, and tuition. FLEP applicants must have between two and six years active duty enlisted or commissioned service and must be in the pay grade of O-3 or below as of the day they begin law school. FLEP is subject to tuition and position limitations due to overall funding availability. The Air Force Institute of Technology establishes the tuition limit set at approximately $17,000 each year, but this amount may change year-to-year.
ELP is an unpaid legal studies program for Air Force officers. ELP participants do not receive pay and allowances, but remain on active duty for retirement eligibility and benefits purposes. ELP applicants must have between two and ten years active duty service and must be in the pay grade of O-3 or below as of the first day of law school.
FLEP and ELP applications for Fiscal Year 2018 will be accepted from Jan. 1, 2017 to March 1, 2017. Both the FLEP and ELP programs require attendance at an American Bar Association accredited law school. Upon graduation and admission to practice law in the highest court of any state, territory of the U.S., or a federal court, candidates are eligible for designation as judge advocates.
To be considered for FLEP or ELP, applicants must complete all application forms, apply (acceptance is not required at the time of application for FLEP or ELP) to at least one ABA accredited law school, receive their Law School Admissions Test results and interview with a Staff Judge Advocate by Feb. 15, 2017. Officers must provide a letter of conditional release from their current career field. Selection for both programs is competitive.
Applications meet a selection board in early March and selections are made based on a review of the application package using a “whole person” concept. The total number of applicants selected for any academic year is based on the needs of the Air Force.
Air Force Instruction 51-101, Judge Advocate Accession Program, Chapters 2 and 3, discuss the FLEP and ELP. For more information and application materials, click here, contact the 35th Fighter Wing legal office or contact 1-800-JAG-USAF.