Air Force

January 18, 2013

Law school education programs looking for hopefuls

Applications for the Funded Legal Education Program and Excess Leave Program are being accepted until March 1, and interested officers are encouraged to compete.
The number of FLEP and ELP applicants selected in any academic year is determined based on the needs of the Air Force.

“Our Air Force missions are constantly changing, and commanders deserve to have access to legal advisors with a broad background of military experiences,” said Maj. Tamona Bright, Office of the Judge Advocate General Accessions Branch Professional Development Directorate chief. “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.”

Air Force JAGs do more than just provide legal assistance, according to Bright. 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,” she 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 pay grade O-3 or below as of the day they begin law school.

The FLEP is subject to tuition limitations. 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,” Bright said. “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.

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 pay grade O-3 or below as of the first day of law school.

Applications for fiscal 2013 FLEP and ELP are accepted through March 1.

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/ELP) to at least one ABA accredited law school, receive the Law School Admissions Test results and interview with a staff judge advocate by Feb. 15. 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 “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, discuss the FLEP and ELP. For more information and application materials, visit http://www.airforce.com/jag; or call the 56th Fighter Wing legal office at (623) 856-6901. Those interested may also contact Capt. Laura DeSio, HQ USAF/JAX at laura.desio@pentagon.af.mil or call (800) JAG-USAF (524-8723).

Courtesy of the 56th FW Legal




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