JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
Applications for two programs that allow active-duty Air Force commissioned officers in pay grade O-3 or below to attend law school are being accepted through March 1.
The Funded Legal Education Program is a paid legal studies program and assignment action; participants receive full pay, allowances and tuition. The Excess Leave Program is an unpaid legal studies program; participants do not receive pay and allowances, but remain on active duty for retirement eligibility and benefits purposes.
"Our Air Force missions are constantly changing, and commanders deserve to have access to legal advisers with a broad background of military experiences," Lt. Col. Kate Oler, 902nd Mission Support Group Staff Judge Advocate, said. "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 judge advocates do more than just provide legal assistance. In addition to prosecuting and defending clients brought before courts-martial, JAG officers 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, Oler said.
"Every facet of every Air Force mission is bound by elements of the law," she said.
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. ELP applicants must have between two and 10 years active-duty service and must be in pay grade O-3 or below as of the first day of law school.
The FLEP is subject to tuition limitation, which is set by the Air Force Institute of Technology. Positions may be limited due to overall funding availability.
The limit for 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," Oler 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."
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 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. Officers must provide a letter of conditional release from their current career field. Selection for both programs is competitive.
A selection board considers applications 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.
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 Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Legal Office at 652-6781 or contact Maj. Sean Elameto, HQ USAF/JAX at email@example.com or 1-800-JAG-USAF.