nfreeman wrote:I'm very sold on applying to the JAGs--what would you say is the best way to maximize my chances of getting in (OLCP vs. GLP)? I'm 24 and would prefer to start law school in the next two years, but would I have a significant edge if I applied to JAG with prior military experience? How much would I need for it to make a difference? Also, does the pre-JAG ROTC have the same requirements as regular ROTC? If so, wouldn't it be better to spread all that work over two years instead of one? Does it provide a monthly allowance (I assume it would be minimal)? Do you know which law schools have the most JAG-friendly LRAP programs? I'm aiming for the Top-14 and I've heard UVA is pretty good for JAG. Also, I still don't understand how LRAP complements IBR.
Overall, how are you enjoying life as a JAG? I've heard that JAGs are officers first and lawyers second, so how much of your work is "legal stuff" vs. "officer stuff"? For me, I'd prefer a job that is rewarding, interesting, and provides a balanced life over one that just earns a ton of money, and from what I've heard JAG matches that.
Having a family-friendly career is also very important to me; do you consider Air Force JAG to be family-friendly overall? I've heard the military as a whole has an incredibly high divorce rate, but I'm hopeful the Air Force is different.
Couple more q's:
--There's been a lot of talk about cuts in defense spending: how much do you think that could affect JAG career stability/benefits?
--I'm also interested in the FBI. Do you think the FBI would favor former JAGs?
--How much would knowing a foreign language determine where you're based? I speak fluent Italian and Czech, and I'm beginning to learn Farsi as well.
--Would getting a JD-MPA give me an edge at all? Would it serve any value for a JAG?
That should cover all the bases. Thanks again for your help, and I hope to join you in the JAGs someday.
I would recommend applying off the bat for GLP and then OYCP and then DAP if necessary. I don't know the precise ROTC requirements that comes with OYCP/GLP but none of my OYCP/GLP friends ever complained that the ROTC workload conflicted with their law school commitments. You do get a monthly stipend with ROTC - it is $300-$500. I am not conversant with the best T-14 LRAP programs. From my years lurking law school message board, UVa does come immediately to mind but I cannot say about the others. One of my friends at my office is NYU Law and she is not getting a cent from them.
In terms of my overall satisfaction with JAG, I would rate it as 10/10. I have absolutely zero regrets with my decision. I've gained a ton of trial experience and love going to work each day. I'm at one of the busiest bases in the AF right now but even with the longer hours, I have great co-workers and as much as I despise this phrase, there is a true "work hard, play hard" mentality. The longer hours is relative, but I'm probably 55-60 hours a week in the past few months. That said, I've been averaging a court-martial every three weeks, which is pretty unusual
I think my average week is streets ahead of what it could be were I in a law firm. I spent today in an Article 32 investigative hearing, my Monday was on our firing range getting training on the M-9 (9mm Beretta 92). Two weeks ago I spent a training day with our Ground Combat Training Squadron and had an hour training on/firing a Mk-19 automatic grenade launcher. You'll get to deal with legal situations you will not find out of the military and then some just cool Air Force experiences along the way.
The lawyer and officer concept is not mutually exclusive. Your function in the AF is an attorney, but in that role you have the responsibilities and privileges afforded to all officers. There is an active expectation that you set the example, do the right thing, look out for your peers and subordinates, etc. The military takes the almost chivalrous notion of officership seriously. I don't want to get too in the weeds on this but your role as an attorney is practical, your role as an officer is a little more philosophical.
JAG is family friendly overall. You have to keep in mind though that you will be moving every two years. Sometimes those locations are not anywhere you will be excited about living. You can also expect to deploy at least once every four years for a 6 month tour. I truly do not believe that JAG is any harder on family life than any other way to practice law. Typically the work-life balance is much better.
JAG has never been directly affected by DoD spending issues. In the AF, we are exempt from force-shaping (involuntary separation) in order to keep our legal advice untainted.
JAG is a great spring-board into other fed agencies. Most of the JAGs I know personally that have separated have either gone DoJ/USAO/DHS. You are not going to gain any investigative knowledge as a JAG but you will get the street cred of having served as an officer and doing it in a law enforcement capacity.
The foreign language aspect will help you out on your application but probably will not impact your station assignments too much. Only 10-15% of the available assignments are OCONUS (outside Continental United States) and a smaller portion of that is Europe. And even if you land Europe, you are only there for 2-3 years. This may give you the ability to do some really cool things later in your career but generally your first 4-6 years are spent in the trenches at a Base Legal office. The assignments do not usually diversify until you hit your 3rd assignment as a Captain (5-6 years in) or after.
The MPA probably may give you some extra points in the application process but it won't be a huge factor. I don't think I can name any JAGs I know that came in with a Masters. A lot of the Majors/Lt Cols earn LLMs or Masters down the road but most of us starting out are just BA/BS and JD.