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CAF Legal Officer/JAG


Major_Agnostic

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Major_Agnostic
  • Articling Student

Greetings, I took a look at the various forum topics and didn't find any on becoming or life as a legal officer in the military/JAG. I hope this topic can serve to gather more info on this career option and I have some questions I've had answered during a chat with a legal officer today (she had a decade in as a JAG) to start it off. They're just from my phone notes so they're pretty minimal (didn't plan on writing up a post during the call), but it's better than nothing. 

 

Q: What is the likelihood of being posted to Ottawa?

A: Quite likely given that the majority of JAGs work in Ottawa (there are only 1-2 JAGs per base and some have none), although one will have to rotate and almost certainly work on base outside of Ottawa at some point. At the rank of LtCol/Com and above, you'll be in Ottawa
 

Q: What is intake like for legal officers?

A: At this time, there are no civilian opportunities for articling, although in the past students have been able to help out a bit (unclear in what capacity, sounded like an FSWEP/summer contract sort of thing), particularly uOttawa students. As for direct entry (aka once you're a lawyer), it is very competitive and at times there will only be one position filled per year. Apparently the budget will likely allow for more opportunities in the near future.
 

Q: Can you provide some insight into workload and work-life balance?

A: It varies a fair bit like other military jobs, but is more relaxed on base (from my understanding) due to the environment. It's usually just you and another legal officer, so as long as you get your work done, you can head to the gym in the afternoon, make appointments, etc. More busy in strategic positions in Ottawa (where you predominantly work with other JAGs), especially when there's political stuff going on like right now with military justice modernization (i.e. Arbour report).
 

Q: How much does your element (i.e. army, navy or airforce) affect your postings and opportunities as a JAG?

A: Not at all. You literally just pick your favourite uniform.
 

Q: How long does it take to be trained and reach the rank of Major/LtCom?

A: After basic (3 months), you're promoted to Captain and have a month long 'confirmation' course where you learn the foundations of military legal practice. After this, you work with a supervising JAG for 1-2 years (sort of like articling) before being promoted to Major, which is the main 'working rank' as a JAG.

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Judgelight
  • Lawyer

Thanks so offering your insight here.

Can you provide any insight into the reserves? How often does hiring for reserve officers happen? Should I join as a regular reservist - would that increase my chances at doing JAG?

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Major_Agnostic
  • Articling Student
3 hours ago, Judgelight said:

Thanks so offering your insight here.

Can you provide any insight into the reserves? How often does hiring for reserve officers happen? Should I join as a regular reservist - would that increase my chances at doing JAG?

I nor the legal officer I spoke to knows the likelihood of being hired on as a DEO (direct-entry officer) reservist, although I don’t think reg or reserves would effect your chances for DEO. But that’s just my guess.

However, working in the CAF in any capacity will increase your chances to get into JAG. Also, if you spend time in the CAF, you can qualify for MLTP, which puts you through law school and gets you articling and subsequent employment with JAG. If it’s like MMTP (the medical school version), I believe it’s 2 years working in your trade before qualifying. I doubt reg vs reserves matters, although part-time may matter.

I haven’t checked your post history, but if you’re already in/finished law school, then MLTP isn’t available to you. You’ll have to do DEO which is quite competitive. Of course, you could go reserves in something else to help, but you’d also have to be working as a lawyer simultaneously, I imagine. Continuing legal experience is almost certainly more favourable for an application than unrelated military experience, if you have to choose, but that’s just my guess.

EDIT: My answer to your second question wasn’t really on point since I tackled likelihood instead of frequency, but that’s what I figured you wanted to know. In any case, I don’t know about the frequency, but it’s on the unpredictable and seldom side of things, I believe. 

Edited by Major_Agnostic
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Renerik
  • Law Student
4 hours ago, Major_Agnostic said:

I doubt reg vs reserves matters

You need to be a Regular Force Officer. Class B Reserves service or service as a Regular Force NCM won't permit you to apply to MLTP. In essence, if you aren't a Reg Force Officer looking to go to law school, forget about MLTP.

I'm not sure that going "reserves in something else" will help much with a JAG application. I asked a retired LCol Legal O if I should remain in reserves while I attend law school or CT to another trade to increase my chances of a JAG career down the line. They more or less said it would have no bearing on selection, but it wouldn't hurt. 

Regarding enrolling in the reserves as a Legal O, your chances are pretty slim unless you live in Ottawa.

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t3ctonics
  • Lawyer
7 hours ago, Renerik said:

Regarding enrolling in the reserves as a Legal O, your chances are pretty slim unless you live in Ottawa.

I recently saw a posting for a reserve JAG position in Saskatoon, but it expressly required several years of experience in practice. Also, it's the only JAG posting I've seen here since I first started checking legal job postings in 2010. So yeah, pretty slim.

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9 hours ago, Renerik said:

In essence, if you aren't a Reg Force Officer looking to go to law school, forget about MLTP.

Also, you must have reached your operational functional point before being allowed to apply for MLTP. In other words, you have to be fully qualified in another trade to be eligible. So joining the CAF with the idea of switching trade right after basic training is not an option (regardless of what your local recruiter might say).

This thread also seems to have good info. Some of the posts are a bit old and the green colour is horrendous, but still:

https://army.ca/forums/threads/legal-officer-recruiting-merged.83/page-10

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Major_Agnostic
  • Articling Student
On 6/8/2022 at 12:56 PM, t3ctonics said:

I recently saw a posting for a reserve JAG position in Saskatoon, but it expressly required several years of experience in practice. Also, it's the only JAG posting I've seen here since I first started checking legal job postings in 2010. So yeah, pretty slim.

The several years of practice requirement seems to be the case for JAG in general, although I don't think it's a 'hard' requirement. They are rather hesitant to take on new calls from what I recall when I looked into JAG a few years back.

Also, @Boris I think for MMTP it's 2 years after you're OFP for qualification. If this is true, I imagine it'd be the same for MLTP. I didn't know that reg force was a requirement though, that's a little surprising. 

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15 hours ago, Major_Agnostic said:

Also, @Boris I think for MMTP it's 2 years after you're OFP for qualification. If this is true, I imagine it'd be the same for MLTP.

I initially read your post as meaning 2 years within a trade, which, with current training delays, is not uncommon to see folks with a couple years experience who are not qualified yet. But yes, now that you mention it, it makes more sense that it would be 2 years experience post-OFP.

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Major_Agnostic
  • Articling Student
9 hours ago, Boris said:

I initially read your post as meaning 2 years within a trade, which, with current training delays, is not uncommon to see folks with a couple years experience who are not qualified yet. But yes, now that you mention it, it makes more sense that it would be 2 years experience post-OFP.

Yeah by "in your trade" I meant actually qualified/doing your job, but I guess it's a bit ambiguous. Worth clarifying.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Major_Agnostic
  • Articling Student

I'd also like to add some info I've received in a follow-up email:

"With respect to your last question to me about “the typical promotion path/timeline for a legal officer from Major/LCdr to JAG”: I know that [REDACTED]'s office has stats (they are briefed each year at our annual meeting), but in my experience there isn’t really a “typical” path.  Legal officers generally enter at the rank of Captain, and spend 2-4 years there.  You need to complete a bunch of on the job training during that time, and then near the end (usually) you do your ‘career course’ (about a month course being exposed to all of the military law pillars we discussed on the phone), after which you are often promoted to Maj.  You can then be a Major for the rest of your career, as promotion to LCol is competitive and not everyone gets there.  I think I’ve heard people being Majors for as short as 8 years, but also much longer (13-14 years).  There are even fewer Colonel spots, but if you are competitive for that then the promotion from LCol to Col can be much faster (I think I’ve seen around 4-5 years).  As you know with JAG actual, that’s a GiC appointment – and so it is really up to the executive to decide who they want in that position (ie not the military!)."

I'm currently going DOJ, so I probably won't be pursuing information in this realm any longer, but I'll try and answer questions if I can. I hope this thread helps future lurkers.

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  • 5 months later...
Luckylaw1000
  • Applicant

Hi all,

Just curious to know if anyone is aware of a Canadian military law course offered at any civilian university in Canada? I saw uOttawa used to offer one, but I’m unaware of any other than one at RMC Kingston. 
Thanks for any help!

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  • 3 months later...
Major_Agnostic
  • Articling Student
On 12/21/2022 at 4:35 PM, Luckylaw1000 said:

Hi all,

Just curious to know if anyone is aware of a Canadian military law course offered at any civilian university in Canada? I saw uOttawa used to offer one, but I’m unaware of any other than one at RMC Kingston. 
Thanks for any help!

Hey, last I heard, UoA had an internship with the JAG, so that's worth looking into.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 6/8/2022 at 5:27 AM, Renerik said:

You need to be a Regular Force Officer. Class B Reserves service or service as a Regular Force NCM won't permit you to apply to MLTP. In essence, if you aren't a Reg Force Officer looking to go to law school, forget about MLTP.

I'm not sure that going "reserves in something else" will help much with a JAG application. I asked a retired LCol Legal O if I should remain in reserves while I attend law school or CT to another trade to increase my chances of a JAG career down the line. They more or less said it would have no bearing on selection, but it wouldn't hurt. 

Regarding enrolling in the reserves as a Legal O, your chances are pretty slim unless you live in Ottawa.

Just wanted to say, as someone interested in the JAG I think that joining the reserves is first a good step to see if you would be a good fit for a military environment. Also, I spoke to a Colonel and I was told it would be a very good step for a JAG applicant, particularly as an officer since that touches on training requirements. Have you spoken to other officers about this? Would like to learn more. 

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