TLS Members. I wanted to highlight my experience in getting selected for the Air Force JAG One Year College Program (OYCP) as a 2L. PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE ME
. I wrote this for a law school student at a local school and I think I deleted all identifying information, but I may have missed stuff. I will be willing to take questions as well on my PM. I apologize for not writing this sooner, maxpayne!APPLICATION PROCESS:
I was lucky enough to have sat in on a briefing with a Lieutenant Colonel who was talking about the recruiting process and how boards select candidates. He/she was on a board once and discussed how it works. Most of my knowledge comes from him/her, along with some other websites. If you ever have some time, I’d encourage you to read the Top Law Schools thread below. Captain Bateman and others have been incredibly helpful. I honestly don't think I could have gotten into AF JAG (my first choice of career) without their excellent advice. It is very informative, although it’s super long as it is five years of comments. I credit it with helping me craft the best package I could to apply. Competitiveness
: I begin with a section on competitiveness because I think it highlights the necessity of doing everything you possibly can to have the best package possible. For the OYCP program, only four were selected in the whole country in February, 2013. Last year, they selected two. The year before that, they selected seven. For Direct Appointment, the percentages are hovering around 5% selection rate. It is incredibly competitive right now and I am only underlining this point because I believe that every single aspect of your application is important. You need to work towards crafting the most compelling file you can to be selected. I am incredibly lucky to be selected. I have no doubt about that. Timeline to apply
: I started the application process in October of my 2L year. I tried to set up interviews with the detachment and with the SJA at the local base. You want to try to schedule those before the Christmas break if you can. Also, be sure to remember to give your LOR-writers plenty of time to write them. The board then meets in February and you hear back late Feb/early March.
Totality of Circumstances
: In the selection process, there is not one dispositive category they look at. Rather, they look at all of the factors together for a “whole-picture” approach. If your package is not as strong in one area, a stronger part of another section of your package may compensate for it. Having said that, they do weight things more heavily than others. SJA Interview
: The most important part of the process is the Staff Judge Advocate interview. You would go to your local base and interview with the SJA and also one of the Captains in the office. During that time, he/she evaluates you for a write-up he/she sends in with your package. He/she’s going to ask you about leadership, litigation experience, your resume, your motivation for applying. He/she’s going to ask you about your goals, about how you define success. And then he/she’s going to write several paragraphs about you. He/she must also include a recommendation: either to recommend to the board that they select you or not select you. This is incredibly important to getting a spot, and you want to make sure you do everything you can to shine in the interview. Of course, there’s always the admonition to be “clean cut, conservatively dressed, etc.”Law school grades
: The second most important aspect is your law school grades. They look at them somewhat intensely. You don’t have to be law review, but you do need to get good grades to a certain extent. I was not law review. I was actually top 25%, with Dean’s Lists every semester, so I had good grades, but not great grades as in top 10%.
Air Force Internships
: Boards look highly on Air Force internships, official and unofficial, because it shows your interest in joining them. Additionally, you may be able to get a letter of rec from a current JAG who could vouch for you. Make sure you apply for the official internships. Also, you may try to see about setting up something informal over at your local base and commute, if that’s something you’d be able to do. I was able to work in the legal office there and commute several days a week. I believe that that helped me immensely in my application process. Leadership experience/titles
: This is very important because as an AF JAG, you’re going to be an officer in the military. You will be a leader. Just because someone gets good grades in law school doesn’t mean they are leadership material. The Lt Colonel told me that they had a guy with good grades from Harvard but they rejected him because he wasn’t right for the AF, specifically because he didn’t seem to have any leadership ability. Do whatever you can to join clubs and run for positions and get those titles on your resume. I was president/vice-president/co-founder, etc. of several different groups.
Also, you might consider starting up a group at your local law school? Maybe grab some people who are interested and start a military law society? We did that at my school last year. Me and two other people started a Military Law Society and started promoting JAG work at the school. Just a thought.
Public service experience
: Volunteer as much as you can for public causes. Help with legal aid work. Donate time to local charities, etc. They also like it if you have public-service type stuff in your background. I’m an old guy and didn’t come straight through from undergrad. Before I came to law school, I lived for several years in a foreign country, doing missionary work and I think that helped me in my application. Letters of Rec
: These don’t matter a whole lot, but they do like to see that you’ve maxed out the number. So try to get five letters of rec if you can.
Litigation/courtroom experience: They love moot court/trial team experience. If you can join one, that really helps your application, because you’re going to be in court a lot as a JAG. Also, take practical courses like trial advocacy and advanced trial advocacy. Also, make sure to take criminal law classes since you will prosecute people for crimes as a JAG.
: They look at them, but I don’t think they are that important. They’re definitely at the bottom of the list. My undergrad grades were bad because I worked full-time through school, so I had a very-low GPA, in the very low 3s.
Prior military experience is a bump of course. Frequent drug use, being in trouble with the law, school suspensions, etc. would hurt.
Timeline- You will be notified in late February/early March from the SJA you interviewed with. Then it takes a few weeks for the detachment to officially receive word that you have been selected from the AF ROTC HQ. You will then begin preparing to go to a four-week field training in Alabama with the other cadets during the summer. There is a ton of stuff to learn/memorize/understand and little time to do it. Let me just be honest. The month of finals was incredibly stressful not only working on outlining/finals, but also trying to learn so much to do well at field training. It was difficult, but in the end, I knew it would worth it.
The guys at my detachment are incredible, though. They go out of their way to help you prepare and get ready for field training. I’m just amazed at how kind they’ve been to me. Several of them met with me, one-on-one, and have gone through things with me to prepare for this summer. I wrote on my facebook profile that they are the best and the brightest of America and I stand by that statement.
After field training, you return and are a cadet at the detachment for one year. I go in on Wednesday afternoons/evenings for a leadership class. I will also have to take another class self-study. I will be expected to exercise three times a week, but the detachment commander, said I can keep a log. I don’t have to come in and exercise with the whole group at the detachment. So the time commitment during school is not too intense.
The time commitment preparing for field training while doing finals is, however. I can't emphasize this enough. If you always have to be on the sweet side of the curve, then it will be the hardest thing you've ever faced going to AF ROTC Field Training with little time to prepare. I hated it with a passion, but I'm looking the at long view, the big picture.
Following graduation, I will be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, Inactive status. I will pass the bar and then be commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant. After 6 months, I’ll be promoted to Captain.
Pay: At field training, I was paid about $800 for the four weeks I’m there. On the recruiting website, it says you will be paid at an E-5 level (much more), but apparently, that is not current. When I return for field training, I will be getting a monthly stipend, which would be around $400 a month. And then when you pass the bar, you will be paid normal 1st Lieutenant pay.
Resources to look at:
1) Facebook JAG Recruiting Page: https://www.facebook.com/USAFJAG?fref=ts
2) Top Law Schools military law webpage: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=31543
3) JAG Website: --LinkRemoved--