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In order to serve as a Reserve Judge Advocate, applicants must:

  1. Be at least 21 years old. For appointment as a First Lieutenant, applicants must be younger than 33. For appointment as a Captain, applicants must be younger than 39 (waivers are available on a case-by-case basis).
  2. Be a graduate of an ABA-accredited law school.
  3. Be a member in good standing of the bar of a federal court or the highest court of your state.
  4. Adhere to U.S. Army physical fitness standards

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 of 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 with one year's time in-grade.

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 Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance, access to post facilities, survivor benefits and generous retirement benefits. Officers are also eligible to fly on a stand-by basis on military aircraft within the continental United States.

Retirement Benefits

Eligibility for retirement pay and other benefits is granted to Army Reserve Soldiers who have completed 20 years of qualifying federal military service. With a few exceptions, the extent of these benefits is the same for both Reserve Officers and the service members who retire from active duty. The major difference in the two retirement programs is that Reserve Officers do not begin receiving most of the retirement benefits, including pay, until they reach 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, retired Army Reserve Officers are entitled to shop in military exchanges and commissaries, use most post facilities, travel on a space-available basis on military aircraft and use some medical facilities.

Participation Requirements

Serving in the U.S. Army Reserve as a Judge Advocate is multifaceted, with the degree of participation determined largely by the individual. Judge Advocates 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 typically serve with an active duty Staff Judge Advocate office 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.

Point of Contact

If you are interested in serving as a Reserve Component Judge Advocate, please contact the Chief, Reserve Component Recruiting at 703-693-0863.