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Author Topic: Law School or Army OCS  (Read 4894 times)

kman999

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Law School or Army OCS
« on: May 06, 2009, 12:56:49 PM »
These are the two paths I have been wrestling with.  I will be taking the LSAT in June, and both have appealed to me for a long time.  Army Jag is a definite possibility in the future, and OCS would help me get my foot in the door there.

Basic plan of action is to see what happens with the LSAT and applications and re-evaluate the situation come January or so, but any help, thoughts, or info would be appreciated.

Youk

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Re: Law School or Army OCS
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2009, 06:48:08 PM »
Definitely take the LSAT's and go from there.  Ultimately, 2 very different paths given the current world affairs, I guess you would have to answer the question: Are you comfortable with the fact that for the entire time you are in the Army, you could end up in war with your life on the line? 

Pretty heavy stuff, as I'm sure you know.  2 very different paths obviously.  You can get into JAG without being an officer, but it is challenging, probably harder than many realize.

What are you priorities?  Income? Serving your country? Being behind a desk if you don't get JAG?

Again, take the LSAT's, get your results and go from there.   


NYCFed

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Re: Law School or Army OCS
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2009, 09:14:36 PM »
You may already know this, but it is possible to get the military to pay your way through law school after 2 years of service.  It is not something I would bet on happening, but it may be worth trying.  Depending on the branch and the program, you give up some choice in schools and commit to 6 years of active duty service after you graduate.

jpiesel44

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Re: Law School or Army OCS
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2009, 09:41:26 PM »
You may already know this, but it is possible to get the military to pay your way through law school after 2 years of service.  It is not something I would bet on happening, but it may be worth trying.  Depending on the branch and the program, you give up some choice in schools and commit to 6 years of active duty service after you graduate.

This program is called the Funded Legal Education Program (FLEP).  I actually got accepted to it this year.  It's very competitive (only 25 out of several hundred are selected).

I ended up turning it down to get out and go to law school on my own for the following reasons:
1). There is a $20K annual tuition cap on which school you can go to through Army FLEP, which pretty much disqualifies you from the major schools because you are NOT allowed to take student loans or pay the rest on your own.  The army has to cover 100% of the bill.
2). 6 years is a pretty long obligation from the Army though the experience is good (as long as you want to work in the public sector)
3). You are NOT going to see any time on the line or interact with locals or anything else remotely dangerous if you go overseas.  For some, that's good, but I imagine if you went Army you'd embrace some of the adventure/danger, right?  Though there are exceptions, they are extremely few and very far between.

Also, going to JAG through Army FLEP is A LOT more difficult than going direct commission.  There are a few hundred JAGs who are assessed into the Army annually.  Only 25/year come from FLEP, so over 90% of the others are direct commissionees through law schools.

Also, people rarely get picked up for FLEP after only 2 years.  It's more like 4-5 who are most competitive.  Also, nowadays, it's very hard to get picked up if you haven't deployed and have combat experience.  They prefer to have combat officers as FLEPs.

Bottom line is that if you only want to join the military to be a JAG, go the direct commission option after Law School.  If you go to OCS wanting only to do JAG, be prepared to serve in combat positions, the possibility of never being selected and going to law school while you're in your 30s.

SwampFox

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Re: Law School or Army OCS
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2009, 10:35:40 PM »
I did a lot of research on this, and what jpiesel44 says is correct.  If you want to be a JAG, just go to law school.  OCS, I believe, is for people who want to serve as an officer doing almost anything BUT a JAG.  Lawyers, chaplains, and doctors are recruited in totally different manners than the rest of the military.  Once you're out of law school, you can apply through the DCO (direct commission) program, which is how most JAG's get commissioned.  If you would like some financial aid while in school, about the only way to do it for people who are non-prior service is either through ROTC (which even then is kind of discouraged), or being in the National Guard/Reserves.  Even then, I believe (but I could be wrong) there are restrictions on switching specialties after you reach Capt. (Navy LT).

kman999

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Re: Law School or Army OCS
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2009, 11:11:11 PM »
Yeh I have looked into FLEP, and for the reasons you mentioned it did not appeal that much.  I understand the risk of OCS and would actually like to be commissioned into a combat role (Armor being the preferred MOS)...What I am having the most trouble with is the timing of everything.

I guess if I served my three years and that was it I would end up applying as a twenty-five/six year old.  Definitely not an old applicant by any stretch.

Just two very different paths, but both appealing at the same time.  It is not simply the task of listing the pros and cons like one can do for two different schools; rather, it really seems like a gut check is necessary on this one.   

jpiesel44

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Re: Law School or Army OCS
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2009, 11:18:09 PM »
It's not a 3-year commitment.  OCS entails an 8-year commitment, the first three of 3 of which are on active duty.  You then must serve on IRR (Inactive Reserves) or the Select Reserves for the next 5 after that, so get ready to risk being called up during law school and beyond.  It's still happening by the hundreds, especially with officers.

Also, there's absolutely no guarantee that you'd get Armor, or anything else you wanted.  Branch slots go through the West Point Cadets, then the hundreds of ROTC programs in the country, so by the time they get to OCS, you get the scraps.  You'll do what they tell you to do.  Also, civilians who commission through OCS (as opposed to prior enlisted) are not very well prepared in my opinion for Army life (compared to West Point and ROTC guys who've trained for years).  Though their quality typically levels out in the end, it takes about a year of two of hard knocks before they get their *&^% straight.  Go ROTC if you still can.

Basically though, if you want the Army experience, that's great.  It's been GREAT for me, but others hate every minute of it.  Do ROTC or OCS planning on just rolling with the punches and getting the experience under your belt.  Don't plan on getting FLEP, because it probably won't happen.  It could, but that would be a bonus.