MOS 27A—JAG Attorney

JAG attorney (MOS 27A) Description / Major Duties:

The Army Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAGC) is the Army's source of legal support to operations. As an Officer in the JAGC and a practicing attorney, your responsibilities will cover everything affecting military operations, focusing on the following areas: criminal law, legal assistance, civil and administrative law, labor and employment law, international and operational law, and contract and fiscal law. The JAGC offers a wide range of opportunities-whether serving as prosecutor or defense counsel at a court-martial, advising a commander on an international law issue, helping a Soldier with a personal legal matter, or handling many other challenging and rewarding responsibilities. Duty locations include the continental United States and many installations and locations overseas.

Typical responsibilities for a first-term Judge Advocate include:

  • Prosecute criminal cases under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
  • Provide legal assistance (wills, powers of attorney, etc.) to Soldiers, Officers, and their families
  • Provide legal reviews of proposed Army actions at the unit/installation level
  • Provide ethics opinions regarding the use of Government resources
  • Represent Soldiers at courts-martial
  • Advise commanders of all levels on all legal issues as they arise

Requirements to be a JAG Attorney
In addition to academic requirements, candidates are expected to exhibit the qualities befitting an Officer in service of the United States, such as leadership, physical fitness, commitment and professionalism.

Once selected, applicants who accept a direct commission in the JAGC serve a four-year tour of duty.

At a minimum, applicants for MOS 27A must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Have earned a J.D. or LL.B. from an ABA-accredited law school
  • Have been admitted to the bar of either a federal court or the highest court of any state in the United States or the District of Columbia (note: 3L students may also apply)
  • Applicants must be able to serve 20 years of active commissioned service before reaching the age of 62. Thus, for most applicants, the age requirement is to be under the age of 42 at the time of entry onto active duty.

Most law firms offer some sort of orientation and training, and the JAGC is no different.

The Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course (JAOBC) is comprised of three phases:

Fort Lee Phase. New JAs report to Fort Lee, Virginia, for a twelve day military orientation course, which is known as the Fort Lee phase of Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course (JAOBC). The course allows time for establishing personnel and finance records, purchasing uniforms, and receiving instruction in several basic areas of military life. These include the wear of military uniforms, military customs and courtesy, and physical fitness training.

Charlottesville Phase. The military orientation course is followed by a ten-and-a-half week academic course at The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS) in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is known as the TJAGLCS phase of JAOBC. TJAGLCS is located on the grounds of the University of Virginia, adjacent to their law school. During this phase, new JAs receive instruction on the organization, function, and mission of the U.S. Army JAG Corps, and an overview of the practice of law in the U.S. Army. The instruction focuses on areas of law that will be particularly important to a new JA, including military criminal law, government contract and fiscal law, legal assistance, claims, administrative law, and international and operational law. Computer training and practical exercises in trial advocacy and attorney-client issues are also featured.

Direct Commissioned Officer Course (DCO). The training continues with six weeks of DCO located at Fort Benning, Georgia. DCO’s goal is to develop competent leaders. It is a rigorous six-week course in leadership and tactics designed to challenge ALL new Army officers (West Point, ROTC and Officer Candidate School graduates also attend) physically and mentally. The DCO curriculum includes physical fitness training, foot marches, combat training, land navigation training (similar to orienteering), rifle marksmanship, weapons training, practical exercises in leadership, nuclear, biological and chemical operations, use of night-vision equipment and several confidence courses featuring difficult obstacles that will challenge students to overcome personal fears.

Helpful Skills
Judge Advocates are both attorneys and Officers; as such, leadership skills are essential. Being a leader in the Army requires self-discipline, initiative, confidence and intelligence. You will be expected to be (or become) physically fit and be able to perform under physical and mental pressure. You must be able to make decisions quickly, always focusing on completing the mission successfully, and show respect for your subordinates and other military Officers. You must be able to lead from the front and adjust to environments that are always changing. As an Officer, you will be judged by your ability to make decisions on your own and bear ultimate moral responsibility for those decisions.

Advanced Responsibilities
Throughout the career of a Judge Advocate, Officers will have opportunities to serve in roles of greater responsibility. Typical careers can include serving as: Chief of Justice, Chief of Client Services, Government or Defense Appellate Attorney, Special Assistant US Attorney, Litigation Attorney, Military Judge, Instructor (at the United States Military Academy or The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School), or Staff Judge Advocate.

Related Civilian Jobs
Army Judge Advocates serve in a capacity similar to many civilian attorney positions, such as district attorney, in-house counsel, general practitioner, civil litigator, or criminal defense counsel.

Article Last Modified: February 16, 2011

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