So, you want to be a JA?

  • Published
  • By Capt. Laura DeSio
  • Headquarters, U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps
Air Force judge advocates do more than just provide legal assistance. In addition to prosecuting and defending clients brought before courts-martial, JA 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.

Officers who are interested in becoming JAs are encouraged to complete in the applications for the Funded Legal Education Program (FLEP) and Excess Leave Program (ELP), which will be accepted from Jan. 1, 2013 through March 1, 2013. The number of FLEP and ELP applicants selected in any academic year is determined based on the needs of the Air Force.

The FLEP is a paid legal studies program for active-duty Air Force commissioned officers. The FLEP is an assignment action where participants receive full pay, allowances, and tuition. FLEP applicants must have between two and six years active duty service and must hold the pay grade O-3 or below as of the day they begin law school. Positions may be limited due to overall funding availability.

The ELP is an unpaid legal studies program for Air Force officers. Participants do not receive pay and allowances, but remain on active duty for retirement eligibility and benefits purposes. Applicants must have between two and 10 years active duty service and must hold the pay grade O-3 or below as of the first day of law school.

"Our Air Force missions are constantly changing, and commanders deserve to have access to legal advisors with a broad background of military experiences," said Maj. Tamona L. Bright, Office of The Judge Advocate General chief of the accessions branch, professional development directorate. "The FLEP and ELP will ensure that we can continue to maintain a corps of officers whose military experience complements their legal training providing commanders with the highest caliber of legal support."

Both FLEP and ELP require attendance at an American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law school. The FLEP is subject to tuition limitations established by the Air Force Institute of Technology, which was set at approximately $16,000 per year previously. Upon graduation and admission to practice law in the highest court of any state, commonwealth, or territory of the U.S., candidates are eligible for designation as judge advocates. To be considered for FLEP or ELP, applicants must complete all application forms, apply (acceptance in law school is not required at the time of application for FLEP/ELP) to at least one ABA accredited law school, receive their Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) results, and interview with a Staff Judge Advocate by Feb. 15, 2013. Officers must 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 application package using a "whole person" concept. The total number of applicants selected for any academic year is based on the needs of the Air Force. 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, contact Capt. Anastasia Lewandoski, 62nd Airlift Wing judge advocate, at DSN 382-0378, or contact Capt. Laura DeSio, Headquarters U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps, ( or 1-800-JAG-USAF).