galahad85 wrote:A couple questions:
1) This is kind of vague, but what do you think recruiters are looking for in applicants with no prior military experience? Will it just be grades/quality of school, or is there something else they're looking for? I'm just worried that my lack of prior experience will prove a barrier.
2) The one thing that turns me off from JAG is, obviously, the low pay. I'll be $90k-$100k in debt coming from a T25 school, so I don't know if I can make ends meet on a JAG salary. What do you think? Does CCRA or LRAP help at all with this kind of job? Also, I read about this retention program:
"F. Judge Advocate Continuation Pay
No military service has tuition reimbursement for JAG officers, but the Air Force has a retention program that allows the service to pay up to $60,000 after you complete your initial service obligation to remain on active duty for an additional time period. The details are that after your initial four-year commitment, you sign up for another two years and you receive $20,000; then at the six-year point you can sign up for four more years and receive another $40,000. I note that you can use the money for whatever you want, i.e. loans, car, house, investments, etc. While we expect this robust retention program to remain for years to come, it is contingent on annual Congressional approval. "
That sounds great... Is there some kind of catch? lol
1. Applicants w/o Prior Experience: I had zero prior military experience and still got picked up by my first board. It is close to impossible to say, definitively, what they are looking for. I have heard the "we look at the whole applicant" spiel my entire law school career and AF JAG is the first time I have actually seen it applied. For sure, they want a litigation/trial orientated background and any public service looks great.
I went straight into law school from undergrad, so they do not draw any clear lines in regard to that. Without question, that 2L internship can be a deal breaker. If you can land that and you hit it off with your base legal office, you are in very strong shape for being picked up for active duty. I have zero doubt that my 10 weeks spent during my internship were the deciding factor into me being picked up.
2. I am significantly in the hole from law school, so I feel your pain. I "qualify" for my law school's LRAP in terms of adjusted gross income but it will still be a few weeks till I find out if I will get anything. CCRA is a HUGE incentive, esp with the IBR coming this July. I'll be forgiven ballpark $40K in loans after my 10 years. Even without CCRA and LRAP, I am still going to be comfortable with my 10 year repayments. I will not be models and bottles in terms of salary, but given how much of it is tax free, it is still a solid nut. You will never be rich but you will be comfortable.
3. There is no catch with the retention pay. What you read is what you get. If you are willing to say in, you can cash in. When one considers this money coincides with the 10 year loan forgiveness, it is pretty appealing. There has been a lot of talk about the incentive pay being increased but I have no idea if this will actually happen.
Also consider that we cannot get fired. JAG does not get force shaped and unless you are into some very illegal stuff, getting separated as an officer is practically impossible. No matter how shitty the economy is, we sit pretty. When times are great, we do not make as much as the Vault firm lawyers but we still have a better quality of life and far more hands on experience. When times are tough, we are taking in a respectable paycheck, not sweating what firms are laying off per Above the Law, and our quality of life/experience are still terrific.
Factor that in with our high promotion rates, at least to 0-5, and it is a highly rewarding way to spend the beginning of one's legal career. We also get to do that, in uniform, at a time of war. Not a lot of lawyers can say that.