Applications for the Funded Legal Education Program and Excess Leave Program are being accepted from Jan. 1 to 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 and is an assignment action. The ELP is an unpaid legal studies program for Air Force officers.
â€œOur Air Force missions are constantly changing, and commanders deserve to have access to legal advisors with a broad background of military experiences,â€ said Maj. Tamona L. Bright, chief of the Accessions Branch, Professional Development Directorate, Office of The Judge Advocate General. â€œThe 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.â€
According to Major Bright, Air Force judge advocate generals 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.
â€œEvery facet of every Air Force mission is bound by elements of the law,â€ Bright said.
Participants in FLEP receive full pay, allowances, and tuition. Funded Legal Education Program 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, we were unable to offer any FLEP seats. In 2013, we secured a handful of seats and encourage all eligible officers interested in becoming a member of the Air Force JAG Corps to apply.
Excess Leave Program 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 be in the pay grade O-3 or below as of the first day of law school.
Capt. Christie Jones, 355th Fighter Wing Legal Office chief of general law, completed law school through the ELP program.
â€œIt was a fantastic opportunity,â€ Jones said. â€œI was able to stay in the Air Force during law school, accrue time in service and even work in active duty legal offices during breaks from school.â€
Fiscal year 2012 FLEP and ELP applications will be accepted from Jan. 1 – March 1 2013. 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, commonwealth, or territory of the United States, 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 or ELP) to at least one ABA accredited law school, receive their Law School Admissions Test 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 â€œwhole personâ€ concept. 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 http://www.airforce.com/jag, contact the legal office at 520-228-5242 or 1-800-JAG-USAF).