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What is an Army JAG?

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  • Written By: Bill C.
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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An Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) is generally understood to mean a member of the U.S. Army's JAG corps, the legal arm of that branch of military service. In the strictest sense, JAG in the Army refers only to one person, the Judge Advocate General of the Army, who is the officer in command of the Army's JAG corps worldwide.

Members of the Army JAG corps are typically attorneys who are commissioned officers and paralegal assistants who are in the enlisted ranks. They provide a wide range of legal services for members of the Army around the globe, in addition to representing the service in legal cases and serving as prosecutors and defense counsel in courts-martial, or military trials.

Army JAG corps members serve both on active duty and in the Army Reserves. There are similar JAG corps in all branches of the military — the Navy, Marines and Air Force &mash; that serve similar purposes.

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An Army JAG attorney is typically a graduate of an accredited law school who was admitted to the bar of a federal court or the highest court of any U.S. state, then completed a specified series of training programs before being commissioned an officer. There are several other detailed requirements spelled out by the Army in its recruitment materials. Members of the Army can apply to become part of JAG even before graduation and completion of an American Bar Association requirements. Following commission, a JAG attorney can usually expect to be assigned roles similar to those filled by civilian lawyers: prosecutor, defense counsel, litigator in civil cases, and in-house or general counsel.

A paralegal specialist in the Army JAG corps generally holds a high school diploma or GED certificate, possesses basic administrative skills, and has completed specific army training among many other basic requirements spelled out by the Army. After training, Army paralegals support JAG attorneys much like their counterparts in civilian life, working as clerks, court recorders, and legal assistants.

The Army calls its JAG corps the oldest law firm the world. It was founded by George Washington on July 29, 1775, when he was still a general in the Revolutionary Army. Major achievements of the Army JAG include prosecuting Benedict Arnold for treason; helping convict Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg, Germany following World War II; and, in 1951, writing the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the legal rules used by all branches of the U.S. military.

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