chili_davis wrote:Prior service 0L here....Beginning LS this fall and extremely interested in becoming a JAG officer. Any advice for incoming law students to become more competitive? Also, is it possible to transition from 3L to active duty following the summer bar exams?? Curious how to make that transition without having to take a job that I plan on leaving a few months later. Any advice would be much appreciated!
I'd start with reading every page of this forum. This is the best source of information out there -period- although it takes some patience to sift through and find exactly what you are looking for. The honorable Patrick Bateman posted a lot of gold over the years. It also very much depends on which branch you'd like to pursue. I am prior service AF, and was hired by AF JAG as a 1L, so that's really all I can speak to. If you have no interest in Air Force, or going the GLP/OYCP AFROTC route, then no need to read further. But if an aspiring AF JAG happens upon this, I'll summarize my process since I feel like I owe a lot to this forum.
1) Don't be overweight. If you are- use the summer to slim down. 2) Don't have a bad prior service record. Being prior service is a double edged sword. It can help, but only if your record is clean. For the AF, I had to furnish all EPRs and thankfully they were clean. If you have any minor black marks be ready to explain them. 3) Most people will just say focus on your studies, but since your first potential interview is still about a year away (if you pursue AF)- it actually wouldn't hurt to try and gain some leadership experience over the summer or at your job now. You will likely be asked examples of when you were a leader, and how you handled situations. It's a little awkward when you don't have leadership experience and makes it hard for the interviewer to write a glowing recommendation. 4) Start to figure out 5-7 people you could get a LoR from- track down old supervisors and old commanders if you can. I probably wouldn't reach out to them just yet- but you'll eventually need 5 letters so it doesn't hurt to keep a list. If you are prior service and none of your LoR's are from military folk, that would look odd. 5) Once the semester starts, forget about JAG and focus on your classes. You can join some clubs that interest you or that relate to criminal justice, but your grades and writing sample will be more important.
If you want to pursue AF JAG, then apply January of 1L year for the Graduate Law Program. Even though the GLP and OYCP are more selective then regular accessions, applying and showing legitimate interest as a 1L can only help you down the road. Also, the earlier you apply, the less law school accomplishments they can expect from you. The usual advice is do everything crim and court related as possible, but when you interview January of 1L, those questions are easy because you will have no experience. The application is online and opens sometime in the fall. Find it and open it up to see all the requirements, but you can do much of that work over winter break. 6) Around October/November things heat up with classes, but start to collect your LoRs and transcripts. I waited too late for a few things and had to do some begging and pleading in early Jan to hit the deadline- don't be that guy. 7) Also around that time reach out to the local ROTC detachment and schedule an interview with the CC. He/she will have to agree to accept you if you are selected and they will give their recommendation. It's important- be humble. 8.) Figure out the exact deadline for the application and get everything submitted on time. For advice on the personal statement- the JAG wants officers first and lawyers second- express that sentiment, assuming you mean it. They evaluate each candidate using the "whole person" concept. That makes advice hard to give- just be well rounded. Hopefully you are generally likable. 9) After you submit the package online, you will either receive a phone call from the nearest base (or the one you chose) or you will reach out to them to schedule an interview with the SJAG. Expect a long, in-depth interview, but nothing crazy. They will use that interview to write a report/recommendation. Then you wait about 6-8 weeks to find out if you were selected. 2 years ago they selected 7 GLP and 11 OYCP across the country. I don't know how many applied.
If you go through the GLP/OYCP, you will get orders once you get (passing) bar results back and as long as medical goes smoothly, you shouldn't need another "real" job. If you are lucky you can sneak into the Fall JASOC (tech school) but more likely you'll go to the March one, but many receive AD orders in the fall and work several months before TDYing to JASOC. If you are hired as a 3L, I believe you will likely go active duty at COT in January/Feb that next year, so you'll only need a job to the extent you need to survive until then. Again, this is Air Force. I've heard the Army has longer waiting time.