HURLBURT FIELD — Applications for the Funded Legal Education Program, or FLEP, and Excess Leave Program, or ELP, are being accepted through March 1. 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 Lt. Col. Rebecca Vernon, Staff Judge Advocate, 1st Special Operations Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. “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.”
According to Vernon, 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.
The FLEP is a paid legal studies program for active-duty Air Force commissioned officers and 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 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, or AFIT, establishes the tuition limit and in academic year 2012 was set at approximately $16,000 per year. While in 2012, due to unfortunate budgetary constraints, the Air Force was unable to offer any FLEP seats, the Air Force has secured a handful of seats in 2013 and encourages 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 the pay grade O-3 or below as of the first day of law school.
Applications for FY12 FLEP and ELP will be accepted from Jan. 1 through March 1. Both the FLEP and ELP programs require attendance at an American Bar Association (ABA) 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 their Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, 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 goes over the 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. 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, contact the base legal office at 884-7821, or contact Maj. Sean Elameto, HQ USAF/JAX (firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-JAG-USAF.)