How to Become a Military Lawyer? – 9 Steps You Need to Do

Written by

John Cotton


Logan Miller

how to become a military lawyer

A military and law working side-by-side can be an intimidating yet noble career. So, how to become a military lawyer?

First, you must finish your bachelor’s degree, enter an officer candidate school, obtain your law degree from an ABA-approved school, and pass your bar examination.

After passing the bar, you must complete the necessary military training, get your security clearance, and start your active-duty service. Then, there you go!

The following will give you more detailed definitions and procedures for becoming a military lawyer. We also show helpful tips to become one of these amazing professionals.

What is a Military Lawyer? What Do Military Lawyers Do?

Civil and military lawyers have similar duties, except for whom they are performing their duties. A military lawyer becomes a defense attorney for military personnel under the jurisdiction of military courts and law.

The military lawyer’s job description is not limited to military personnel cases. Their responsibilities include environmental law, operations law, international law, and military legal issues.

Their job is similar to a civilian lawyer; however, they work under military law and court jurisdiction.

This noble profession advises every trial, from trial arrangement to post-trial measures. So if you want to become one, you must take the necessary steps, which are shown in the guide below.

Step-by-Step Procedures to Become a Military Lawyer

The following will give you better ideas on how you can become a jag:

1. Pass the basic requirement


If you’re thinking about your future career as a military lawyer, you must check your validity first.

You must have American citizenship and obtain a security clearance that shows your history, health, physical fitness, and finances. It also indicates whether you have taken an illegal substance.

You should also be at most 42 years old to enter this profession.

2. Obtain a bachelor’s degree.


Before enrolling in an ABA-approved law school, you must finish your undergraduate degree first. You can choose whichever course or major you will take as long as the U.S. Department of Education accredits them.

However, taking courses in line with military classes will be more advantageous. Most military lawyers take liberal arts for their bachelor’s degree focusing on foreign languages.

It will also be a plus if your college has ROTC programs since you can learn much about the military.

3. Apply for Officer Candidate School (OCS)


After getting your degree, you can begin your study in an officer-candidate school specifically for future military officers. It is, however, more advisable to apply to OCS before entering a law university.

OCS provides much practical training for the military and law, especially in leadership skills. After you finish this phase, you can become one of the commanding officers or pursue a law degree.

4. Pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)


Before taking an LSAT, the law school you should attend must be ABA-accredited for you to take the bar examination in any state. That will also ensure your entrance into the military.

LSAT takes place in different states multiple times a year. You can get free test prep resources or buy one from bookstores to prepare for the upcoming examination.

The LSAT consists of different parts, which include:

  • Reading Comprehension

You will encounter questions related to Arts, Science, and Humanity. This section will identify your understanding and analytical skills for long texts.

  • Analytical Skill

This part will test your logical approach to a specific situation and your deductive skill.

  • Drawing Conclusion

This section will check your capabilities of making an appropriate conclusion based on the introduced facts.

  • Writing Skill

Depending on the school you applied to, it’s always best to practice for a writing sample test.

5. Search for an army lawyer program and complete your law degree.


Funded legal education programs give benefits, such as covering your school tuition costs. By joining this kind of program, you’ll also see the bigger picture of joining the military in the future.

You can also apply as an intern while you are in law school. Being active in military activities will help you become acquainted with all the necessary procedures for becoming a military lawyer.

6. Pass the bar exam.


Finishing a law degree isn’t enough. The law bar examination will test your skills and knowledge before granting you a license in law. Take a bar exam when you finish your degree.

Law bar examination usually consists of the following:

  • Professional Responsibility Test

This part of the bar examination checks your mastery of the legal ethics, rules, and regulations you must follow.

  • Bar Examinationation Test

This is the center of the test, wherein you’re going to answer 200 questions related to property, criminal, and constitutional law, evidence, civil procedure, and contracts.

  • Performance Test

In this section, you will use your analytical ability to solve a specific real-life legal task.

  • Essay Exam

The topic for the essay examination is based on all aspects of the law. You have 30 minutes to finish this test.

Passing a bar exam means you are one step closer to becoming a lawyer in the army.

7. State Bar Registration


Check for the state bar in your state. Each state bar has different army jag requirements. Make sure to check on them before applying. This part is crucial, especially when you join the JAG Corps.

The standard requirements to become eligible for the state bar are the following:

  • You must be 18 years old or above.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen.
  • You have a good moral standing.
  • You are physically fit.
  • Completing your form that shows your former addresses, history records, financial status, and your medical test showing you had not undergone mental illness or illegal substance addiction treatment.
  • If in case you have black marks on your history record, you can submit a document stating your reasons.
  • Issue your set of fingerprints.
  • Prepare your registration fee, which varies from $300 to $500.

8. Apply for the JAG Corps


Look for enlistment in a branch you want to apply to and submit all the necessary documents, which include transcripts of record (TOR), LSAT results, and letters of recommendation.

You will also go through an interview to see if you are eligible to become a jag lawyer.

9. Begin training.


Before becoming a lawyer in the military, you have to begin training with them, do active-duty service for more than four years, and decide to continue following your goals.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is it hard to become a military lawyer?

The word ‘hard’ is subjective, and every professional has some ‘difficulty’ with it, depending on skills and mastery. You must cultivate certain personalities to keep yourself focused on your goal during the process.

You must be flexible and always ready to take on new challenges. This will help you to thrive in an environment with much pressure. Be self-reliant, humble, and fearless with grit to reach a military lawyer career.

Will the army pay for law school?

Yes, the Funded Legal Education Program will pay for your tuition.

This will be possible if you apply to their program and the law school you attended is FLEP-accredited, and you work in the JAG corps upon finishing your law degree and passing the bar exam.

What rank do military lawyers start at?

Under the student program, you will start as an intern called inactive Navy Reserves. In your first year as an army attorney, your rank will be Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG/O-2).

How much does a military lawyer get paid?

The base military lawyers’ salary serving in a Navy JAG and a JAG air force is $48,078 yearly, but it increases in time when you get promoted to a higher rank.

Aside from the salary, you will also receive more military lawyer benefits.


Being a military lawyer is a noble career. You can serve the country while practicing the profession of your dreams. It holds a great responsibility, especially inside the branch of service.

Before joining the JAG Corps, you must prove strong credibility by taking a law degree, registering in different military programs, and serving more than four years on active duty.

The guides presented here on how to become a military lawyer can help you reach your goals. Everything will be possible with systemized planning, grit, and determination.

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