The expansion of the Global War on Terror and an increasing focus on issues such as Environmental Law and Operational Law (i.e., Rules of Engagement) have led to a steady increase in the need for men and women to serve in the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. In October of 2006, the JAG Corps comprised around 1660 personnel; by May, 2012, that number had soared by forty percent to over 2300.

There are a variety of routes for lawyers or those seeking a career as an attorney can become a member of the Navy’s JAG Corps. Far and away the most common is the Navy JAG Corps Student Program, which allow law students to commission as Ensigns while still attending law school. Following graduation from and passage of a bar exam, they attend Officer Development School (ODS), a five-week course where the fledgling JAGs are taught the basics of shipboard fundamentals such as navigation, damage control, disciplinary processes, and naval administration. Successful completion of the ODS is followed by four years of active-duty service. (Note: members of the Student Program are commission as Ensigns in the inactive Naval Reserve).

In the Direct Appointment program, licensed attorneys can enter the JAG Corps at the Lieutenant Junior Grade rank (they are under obligation to serve at least four years of active duty). For current Navy officers, the JAG’s Law Education Program (LEP) gives them the opportunity to attend law school and acquire their J.D. (Juris Doctor) degree in order to serve the rest of their careers as judge advocates. LEP eligibility is restricted to active-duty officers with between two and six years of service at the time they would enter law school. Further, they must be college graduates; have taken the LSAT; in paygrades 0-1, 0-2, or 0-3; have applied to a law school accredited by the American Bar Association; and be able to log twenty years of active service as a commissioned officer before they reach the age of 62.

For Sailors seeking learning the trade from the “deck up,” so to speak, the JAG Intern program offers unpaid internships where they can learn the nuts and bolts of such legal areas as military justice and legal assistance, an excellent foundation upon which to build a future career in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

The US Navy Judge Advocate General Corps sleeve device is represented by two gold embroidered oak leaves, curving to form a semi-circle in the center of which is balanced a silver mill rind. It is placed on the sleeve with the longer dimension parallel to sleeve stripes, stems down.

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