Law school awaits the right AF officers
KADENA AIR BASE – Do you like “Law & Order” or “CSI?” Have you thought to yourself, “I could be a lawyer.” Well, for some of you, the Air Force may send you to law school, pay for it and pay you while you go to school.
There are two programs available to go to law school as an Air Force officer - Funded Legal Education Program and Excess Leave Program. Applications for the FLEP and ELP are being accepted from Jan. 1 through March 1, 2013. Interested, energetic and competitive officers are encouraged to compete. Get started now!
“Our Air Force missions are constantly changing, and commanders deserve to have access to legal advisors with a broad background of military experiences,” said Col. Ed Lucas, 18th Wing staff judge advocate. “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.”
According to Lucas, Air Force JAGs do more than just provide legal assistance. In addition to prosecuting and defending clients brought before courts-martial, JAG 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,” Lucas said.
The FLEP is a paid legal studies program for active-duty Air Force commissioned officers. The FLEP is an assignment action. 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 positions may be limited due to overall funding availability. The Air Force Institute of Technology establishes the tuition limit. Academic Year 2012 was set at approximately $16,000 per year, but this amount may change year to year. In 2012, due to unfortunate budgetary constraints, the Air Force JAG Corps was unable to offer any FLEP seats. In 2013, the Air Force JAG Corps secured a handful of seats.
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 programs require attendance at an American Bar Association accredited law school. Upon graduation and admission to practice law in the highest court of any state, territory of the United States, or a federal court, candidates are eligible for designation as judge advocates.
To be considered for FLEP or ELP, applicants must complete all application forms, apply (acceptance 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 complete a Staff Judge Advocate interview by Feb. 15 2013. 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 application package using a “whole person” concept. AFI 51-101, Judge Advocate Accession Program, Chapters two and three, discuss the FLEP and ELP.