Hi there - I've applied to the Marine Corps' PLC Law program and will be going to OCS this summer before starting my first year, but have some questions I haven't been able to track down answers to yet. I'm posting them here - if you have any insight on any of them, it would be greatly appreciated; if others express interest I'll go ahead and post updates if I find more answers as well for any of you that might also be considering this path.
Thanks in advance...
How close together is attendance at the Basic School and Naval Justice School? Do graduates of TBS depart immediately for NJS?
How long is NJS? I reviewed their website and course schedule, but was not clear on which courses would be required by a new Marine judge advocate.
In your personal experience or through what you have observed, are there academic concentrations or activities that one could participate in during law school that would serve the individual especially well as a JA?
Is there a limit to how many times a candidate may take the bar exam if they do not pass on the first attempt? In other words, can the candidate be dropped/decommissioned for failure to pass the bar after so many tries?
Where can/do JAs get stationed? I read that JAs serve in the Fleet Marine Force, which suggests that they may deploy with expeditionary units and other contingents within the FMF. On the other hand, I had an opportunity to meet with a former Navy JA some time ago and she indicated that JAs often serve in an office on base for their first tour as opposed to deploying with a unit on a combat rotation, as they likely lack the experience to manage unique cases and international issues that could arise in a foreign theater. Do you have an opinion of this assessment or a different understanding of how JAs are stationed, and if they typically deploy, particularly on their first tour?
What is the process by which graduates of NJS get stationed? Is there a list of bases/battalions/other units that have open positions for JAs and the class leader gets their pick and so on down the line by class rank, do JAs receive stationing orders from the Judge Advocate Division after graduation without much input, or is there some other process?
From my understanding JAs manage their own caseload. Are there paralegal, clerical and/or other support staff who assist with scheduling, research, filing, and so on?
Where do your cases come from? Does the office act as a clearinghouse where all legal-related issues from the base or unit go (e.g. a disciplinary action, another office on base requesting review of a contract, etc.) and the commanding officer then assigns cases to the JAs on staff, or do you also have "walk-ins" from individuals needing personal legal guidance or services that then get added to your caseload?
Are offices set up like their civilian (criminal) counterparts, with the equivalent of DA's and PD's offices so that a JA will be exclusively prosecuting or defending during their tour, or might a JA prosecute in one case and defend in the next without any permanent/semi-permanent role as prosecution or defense? If the latter scenario is true, how is which "side" you represent chosen from case to case?
Are JAs allowed to represent military personnel outside of military court on any legal issues they are otherwise qualified to provide counsel on, (e.g. civil suits, contractual dealings, tax, criminal, etc.)? Are JAs allowed to provide legal counsel to or represent civilians in non-military venues?
As a line officer, what combat/physical readiness training do you continue to participate in, even though the majority of a JA's work is ostensibly not combat-related.