Judge Advocate General (JAG)

Judge Advocate General (JAG) insigniaJudge Advocates have provided professional legal service to the Army for over 200 years. Since that time the Corps has grown dramatically to meet the Army's increased need for legal expertise. Today, approximately 1500 attorneys serve on active duty while more than 3,000 Judge Advocates find rewarding part-time careers as members of the U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard. Service as an Army National Guard Judge Advocate is available to all qualified attorneys. Those who are selected have the opportunity to practice in areas as diverse as the field of law itself. For example, JAG Corps officers prosecute, defend, and judge, courts-martial, negotiate and review government contracts, act as counsel at administrative hearings, and provide legal advice in such specialized areas as international, regulatory, labor, patent, and tax law, while effectively maintaining their civilian careers.


In general, applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be at least 21 years old and for appointment as a first lieutenant be younger than 33, and for appointment to captain be younger than 39 (waivers for those exceeding age limitations are available in exceptional cases).
  • Be a graduate of an ABA-approved law school.
  • Be a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of a state or federal court.
  • Be of good moral character and possess leadership qualities.
  • Be physically fit.

Grade of rank at the 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 constructive service credit, not six years). 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

PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENTS - The JAG Corps Program is multifaceted, with the degree of participation determined largely by the individual. Officers are originally assigned to a Monthly Unit Training Assembly (MUTA).  Officers attend monthly training assemblies and perform two weeks of annual training a year. If mobilization occurs, they deploy with their unit and provide legal services commensurate with their duty positions.

SCHOOLING - An Army National Guard (ARNG) Judge Advocate (JA) will attend approximately sixteen and one-half weeks of initial military training.  New ARNG JAs are required to complete the Judge Advocate Officer's Basic Course (JAOBC) and the Direct Commissioned Officer (DCO) Course within twelve months of commissioning as a condition of appointment.

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