ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
Airmen interested in becoming an Air Force lawyer have an opportunity to attend law school, receive paid tuition and a paycheck, all on the military's dime.
There are two programs available for Airmen to attend law school as an Air Force officer: the Funded Legal Education Program and Excess Leave Program. Applications for FLEP and ELP are being accepted from Jan. 1, 2012 through March 1, 2012.
"Air Force commanders need legal advisors with diverse backgrounds - the ever-changing Air Force missions demand it," said Lt. Col. Greg Friedland, 28th Bomb Wing staff judge advocate. "The JAG corps has two programs to send commissioned officers to law school. Commanders need JAG officers with prior military experience for full spectrum legal advice."
According to Colonel Friedland, Air Force JAGs do more than just prosecute and defend Airmen 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 operations of military installations around the world.
"Nearly every Air Force mission has a legal element to it," Colonel Friedland said. "We need JAGs with exceptional experience in other career fields to fill the needs of the JAG corps."
The FLEP is a paid legal studies program for active duty Air Force commissioned officers. FLEP is an assignment action, and participants receive full pay, allowances and tuition. 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. 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 2011 was set at approximately $16,000 per year, but this amount may change year to year.
The ELP is an unpaid legal studies program for Air Force officers. ELP participants do not receive pay and allowances, but remain active duty for retirement eligibility and benefits purposes. ELP applicants must have between two and 10 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 have completed all application forms, applied (acceptance is not required at the time of application for FLEP or ELP) to at least one ABA accredited law school, received their Law School Admissions Test results, and completed a staff judge advocate interview by Feb. 15, 2012. 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. The total number of applicants selected for any academic year is based on the needs of the Air Force. AFI 51-101, Judge Advocate Accession Program, Chapters 2 and 3, offer more guidance on FLEP and ELP.
For more information and application materials, visit http://www.airforce.com/jag
, contact Colonel Friedland at the base legal office (605) 385-2329, or contact Capt. Laura DeSio, U.S. Air Force Headquarters, judge advocate office at, firstname.lastname@example.org
, or 1-800-JAG-USAF.