Staff judge advocate explains funded law school program options

Air Force Legal Services Agency shield -- The Air Force Legal Services Center was renamed the Air Force Legal Services Agency on 1 May 1991 as a result of a reorganization of the The Judge Advocate General's Department (which itself was renamed The Judge Advocate General's Corps in 2003).  U.S. Air Force graphic.  In accordance with Chapter 3 of AFI 84-105, commercial reproduction of this emblem is NOT permitted without the permission of the proponent organizational/unit commander.

Air Force Legal Services Agency shield -- The Air Force Legal Services Center was renamed the Air Force Legal Services Agency on 1 May 1991 as a result of a reorganization of the The Judge Advocate General's Department (which itself was renamed The Judge Advocate General's Corps in 2003). U.S. Air Force graphic. In accordance with Chapter 3 of AFI 84-105, commercial reproduction of this emblem is NOT permitted without the permission of the proponent organizational/unit commander.

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Applications for the Funded Legal Education Program and Excess Leave Program are being accepted from Jan. 1 through March 1, 2009. These programs allow officers to attend law school full time and subsequently enter the judge advocate corps. Interested officers are encouraged to compete.

In addition to prosecuting and defending clients brought before courts-martial, judge advocate officers routinely participate in nearly every facet of the Air Force mission, including developing and acquiring weapons systems, ensuring availability of airspace and ranges where those systems are tested and operated, consulting with commanders about how those systems are employed in armed conflict and assisting commanders in the day-to-day running of military installations around the world. Every facet of every Air Force mission is bound by elements of the law.

The FLEP is a paid legal studies program for active-duty Air Force commissioned officers. Participants receive full pay, allowances, and tuition. FLEP applicants must have between two and six years active duty service (enlisted or commissioned) and must be in the pay grade O-3 or below as of the day they begin law school. The FLEP is subject to tuition limitations, and is expected to be set at approximately $10,000 per year for Fiscal Year 2009.

The ELP is an unpaid legal studies program for Air Force officers. ELP participants do not receive pay and allowances, but remain on active duty for retirement eligibility and benefits purposes. ELP applicants must have between two and ten years active duty service and must be in the pay grade O-3 or below as of the first day of law school.

Both the FLEP and ELP require attendance at an American Bar Association-approved law school. Upon graduation and admission to practice law candidates are eligible for designation as judge advocates. To be considered for FLEP or ELP, applicants must have completed all application forms, applied (acceptance is not required at the time of application for FLEP/ELP) to at least one ABA approved law school, received their Law School Admissions Test results, and completed a Staff Judge Advocate interview by March 1, 2009. Officers must also provide a letter of conditional release from their current career field. Selection for both programs is competitive.

Applications meet a selection board in early March, and selections are made based on a review of the entire application package using a "whole person" concept. Air Force Instruction 51-101, Judge Advocate Accession Program, Chapters 2 and 3, discuss the FLEP and ELP.

For more information and application materials, visit www.airforce.com/jag, contact our base legal office at 654-3203, or contact Captain Afsana Ahmed at afsana.ahmed@pentagon.af.mil or 1-800-JAG-USAF. Our office has several attorneys that benefitted from these programs and we would be happy to give you our personal perspective.