Active duty and full-time support officers interested in a challenging career change can apply for scholarships via the Law Education Program (LEP) announced in Naval Administrative message 162/22. Applications for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 LEP Selection Board must be received no later than Sept. 30, 2022.
The program affords selected Department of the Navy officers the opportunity to earn a Juris Doctor degree and to serve the Navy and Marine Corps as career members of the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps.
“Over nearly three decades in the Navy, I’ve learned that leadership really does matter, and that’s as true in the JAG Corps as it is anywhere else in our service,” said Capt. Frank Hutchison, commanding officer of Region Legal Service Office Mid-Atlantic. “The Law Education Program enables the JAG Corps to select a few high-performing, proven leaders from other specialties, send them—fully funded—to law school, and then assign them as Judge Advocates. These officers bring the leadership experience, fleet knowledge, and military know-how that is so important for our Navy and our JAG Corps.”
Hutchison graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics. A surface warfare officer early in his Navy career, Hutchison was selected for the LEP in 2000, graduating Magna Cum Laude from the Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law in 2003.
“Having been fortunate enough to get my law degree through the LEP program, I can say without hesitation it was the best professional decision of my life and has given me the opportunity to pursue a challenging a legal career while continuing to serve my country and to lead our Nation’s finest men and women,” said Hutchison.
Eligible participants who desire to apply for the FY-24 program must submit a letter request and application package via their commanding officer to the Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) prior to Sept. 30, 2022. In addition, all applicants must ensure official college transcripts from each school attended are forwarded to CPPD. Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores must be received prior to the FY-24 selection board convening in February 2023 but may be submitted by separate correspondence.
“The Law Education Program offers a life changing opportunity for officers to pursue a J.D. and continue serving in the JAG Corps," said Lt. Cmdr. Colin Hood, the JAG Corps accessions detailer at the Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tenn. “The officers who apply to this highly competitive program are extremely impressive and demonstrate their personal commitment to service and the practice of law.”
The Navy typically selects four officers to attend law school each year. Candidates must be serving on active duty as a commissioned officer in pay grades O-1 to O-3 and have no more than six years of active duty service as of their law school class convening date. LEP students have up to 36 months to complete their degree program.
“The Law Education Program provides an unparalleled opportunity to embark upon a new Navy career path without sacrificing your hard earned position within the Navy,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Pries, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). “I applied because though my work as an engineer was important, I didn't find it personally fulfilling. The JAG Corps has given me exactly the kinds of opportunities I hoped for and I've been pleasantly surprised at how often I've found my prior Navy experience useful as a judge advocate. I can't recommend LEP enough!”
In June 2011, Preis received his commission in the United States Navy. Preis then reported to Naval Reactors headquarters (NRHQ) in Washington, D.C., where he served as a Naval Reactors Engineer. In 2016 Preis was selected for the LEP, through which he attended Stanford Law School.
Upon graduation and passing the bar exam, Navy and Marine Corps officers will be designated as judge advocates. Upon completion of the Basic Lawyer Course at the Naval Justice School, they are certified to perform duties as trial and defense counsel. They will then be detailed to a Defense Service or Region Legal Service Office where they will be exposed to the many legal areas found in today's Navy, including: criminal, national security law, administrative and tort law; legal assistance; maritime law and environmental law.
“Despite the competitive nature of the application and selection process, I encourage anyone considering applying to reach out to the detailers or local JAG Corps personnel, said Hood. “We are here to support and answer questions about applications, program restrictions, entitlements, etc. We can also connect potential applicants with LEP officers currently serving so they can provide their personal experiences."
For specific guidance on the Law Education Program
and application requirements, see SECNAVINST 1520.7G and NAVADMIN 162/22.