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Is a JAG a real Attorney?

  • Published
  • By Major Scott A. Hodges
  • Air Force Chief of Legal Assistance
The legal offices at military installations offer legal assistance to active-duty Airmen, retirees, activated reservists, AGR, civilian employees assigned at a military installation outside of the U.S., and the dependants of all of the above. Legal assistance means that you can meet with an attorney, get legal advice, and have certain legal documents prepared for you. The attorneys are called judge advocates, or JAGs. JAGs are limited in what areas they can advise you on and how far they can go with their representation-for example, Air Force JAGs can't go into court with you.

Some people wonder how a JAG can be a real attorney. Normally, to practice law in a state, an attorney must be a member of the bar of that state.

The process of studying state law and passing a bar examination can take up to a year; which is not feasible for military attorneys who move every two to four years. To solve this problem, federal law (10 U.S.C. 1044) allows judge advocates to practice wherever they are assigned. In order to be a judge advocate in any military service, the member has be a graduate of an accredited law school and have passed the bar examination in at least one state.

If you want to find the legal assistance office closest to you, check out the locator on the Air Force Legal Assistance website: