Army Jag Corps
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In general, applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  1. Be at least 21 years old and for appointment as a First Lieutenant be younger than 33; for appointment to Captain be younger than 39 (waivers for those exceeding age limitations are available on a case by case basis).
  2. Be a graduate of an ABA-approved law school.
  3. Be a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of a state or federal court.
  4. Be of good moral character and possess leadership qualities.
  5. Be physically fit.

Grade of rank at time of appointment is determined by the number of years of service credit to which an individual is entitled.  As a general rule, an approved applicant receives three years constructive credit for law school attendance, plus any prior active or reserve commissioned service.  Any time period is counted only once (i.e., three years of commissioned reserve service while attending law school entitles a person to only three years of constructive service credit, not six).  Once the total credit is calculated, the entry grade is awarded as follows:

  • 3 or more but less than 7 years - First Lieutenant
  • 7 or more but less than 14 years - Captain
  • 14 or more but less than 21 years - Major

An applicant who has no previous military commissioned service, therefore, can expect to be commissioned as a First Lieutenant.

Pay and Benefits

Basic pay varies depending on grade, length of service, and degree of participation.  Reserve officers are eligible for numerous federal benefits including full-time Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance; limited access to post exchanges, commissaries, theaters and available transient billets; space-available travel on military aircraft within the continental United States, if on Reserve duty; authorized survivor benefits; and generous retirement benefits.  When performing active duty or active duty for training, Reserve officers may use military recreation, entertainment and other post facilities and receive limited medical and dental care.

Retirement Benefits

Eligibility for retirement pay and other benefits is granted to members who have completed 20 years of qualifying federal military service. With a few exceptions, the extent of these benefits is the same for both the Reserve Officer and the service member who retires from active duty. The major difference in the two retirement programs is that the Reserve Officer does not begin receiving most of the retirement benefits, including pay, until reaching age 60.  The amount of monthly retirement income depends upon the grade and total number of qualifying points earned during the course of the individual’s career.  In addition to the pay, the retired Reserve Officer is entitled to shop in military exchanges and commissaries, use most post facilities, travel space-available on military aircraft worldwide and use some medical facilities.

Participation Requirements

The JAG Corps Reserve Program is multifaceted, with the degree of participation determined largely by the individual.  Officers are initially assigned to a Troop Program Unit (TPU).  Follow on assignments may include service as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA).  TPU officers attend monthly training assemblies and perform two weeks of annual training a year.  Upon mobilization, they deploy with a unit and provide legal services commensurate with their duty positions.

IMA officers are assigned to active duty agencies or installations where they perform two weeks of on-the-job training each year.  During the remainder of the year, they perform legal assistance, take correspondence courses or do project work at their own convenience to earn credit toward retirement.  Upon mobilization, these officers go to their assigned positions and augment the legal services provided by that office.  Officers may also transfer from one unit to another or between units and IMA positions depending upon the availability of vacancies. This flexibility permits the Reserve Judge Advocate to tailor his or her participation to meet personal and professional needs.  Newly appointed officers will usually serve in TPU assignments.

Service Obligation

In general, new appointees incur a statutory service obligation of eight years. Individuals who have previous military service do not incur an additional obligation as a result of a new appointment.


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.