Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Legal Careers: JAG (Judge Advocate General)

I promised a few days ago to provide some information on becoming a military lawyer. So, here goes:

Noun1.judge advocate generaljudge advocate general - the senior legal advisor to a branch of the military

Here's how the Office of the Judge Advocate General for the Canadian Forces describes itself:

"Whether providing legal advice at one of the many bases and wings across the country, defending an accused at a court martial, teaching courses to other CF members, or advising a commanding officer in an operational theatre, the legal officers and staff of the Office of the Judge Advocate General constantly strive to uphold the ethical and legal principles established by both the Canadian Forces and the Government of Canada."

According to the JAG website, "The Office of the JAG comprises 114 regular force legal officer positions and 64 reserve force legal officer positions. The regular force legal officers are employed throughout the CF, in Canada and abroad...The JAG is statutorily responsible to the Minister of National Defence and 'accountable' for the legal advice given to the Chief of the Defence Staff, the military chain of command, and to the Deputy Minister. This clear accountability structure was designed to enhance the integrity of the Office of the JAG and ensure the independence of the JAG from the chain of command in the provision of legal advice in all areas including military justice."

Those that join up "join from a variety of backgrounds — some with no previous military experience; some with prior regular or reserve force experience; some through internal career change programs. They must all be members in good standing of a provincial law society in Canada, meet Canadian Forces medical standards and successfully complete the 14-week Basic Officer Training Course before they can become a legal officer."

"Legal officers come from a variety of backgrounds but most share some common characteristics. First and foremost is a desire to serve Canada as a member of the Canadian Forces - they are all commissioned, uniformed officers joining in the rank of Captain with the opportunity to rise to the rank of Brigadier-General (although the current JAG is a Major-General). As regular force members of the Canadian Forces, they accept that service may involve relocation upon receiving a new posting and periods of separation from their families when duty calls."

"If you want to become a legal officer in the Office of the JAG you will have to join the Canadian Forces and go through the same selection process as all applicants who volunteer to enroll in the military. Upon acceptance to and enrolment in the Canadian Forces, you would be required to undergo Basic Officer Training and official language training (depending on your abilities in the official languages) prior to being posted for employment and further professional development as a legal officer in the Office of the JAG."

Pay and allowances: "Legal officers are specialist officers and are generally paid on a different scale B than general service officers. Legal officer pay is linked to that of the Department of Justice with a 6.5% “military factor” added on to recognize the exigencies of military life."

Pension: "The Canadian Forces Superannuation Act guarantees a pension to personnel who have served in the Canadian Forces for at least twenty years. This pension is based on an average of your wages for the best five years of your career. The pension begins at 40% after twenty years service and maximizes at 70% after 35 years of service."

These links are interesting:

Office of the JAG Organizational Chart C
JAG offices across Canada C
JAG offices around the world C

It looks as though the JAG is separated into various areas of law (Prosecution, Defence, Military Justice and Admin Law, etc.).

If you want to learn more about Military Justice in general, go here: http://www.forces.gc.ca/jag/military_justice/default_e.asp. It gives a good overview.

There is a short entry on Wikipedia that gives some current stats: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_Advocate_General_(Canada)

And for those of you who want to steep yourselves in JAG culture:

JAG (Judge Advocate General) - The Complete Second Season

If any of you have further information about what being JAG is like, or how one becomes JAG, please feel free to provide us some information through a comment. Thanks.

I was in the military, and went through boot camp, and engineering boot camp. It was pretty brutal. I heard that Officer Training boot camp is a lot lighter, but I might be wrong. Anyone dispute that claim?

In any case, it looks like a pretty interesting career choice.

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