By Judge Advocate General’s Corps
/ Published June 29, 2020
Applications for the Funded Legal Education Program, or FLEP, and Excess Leave Program, or ELP, will be accepted beginning Nov. 1, 2020 through Jan. 10, 2021. New this year is expanded eligibility for enlisted members to commission and then participate in FLEP. Interested members are encouraged to compete. The number of FLEP and ELP applicants selected in any academic year is determined based on the needs of the Air Force.
"Our Air Force missions are constantly changing, and commanders deserve to have access to legal advisors with a broad background of military experiences,” said Maj. Sarah Edmundson, Accessions Branch chief, Professional Development Directorate, Office of the Judge Advocate General. “The FLEP and ELP will ensure that we can continue to maintain a corps of officers whose military experience complements their legal training, providing commanders with the highest caliber of legal support. We are excited this year to expand FLEP to enlisted members for the first time in history.”
According to Maj. Edmundson, Air Force JAGs do more than just provide legal assistance. In addition to prosecuting and defending clients brought before courts-martial, JAG officers routinely participate in nearly every facet of the Air Force mission, including developing and acquiring weapons systems, ensuring availability of airspace and ranges where those systems are tested and operated, consulting with commanders about how those systems are employed in armed conflict, and assisting commanders in the day-to-day running of military installations around the world.
“Every facet of every Air Force mission is bound by elements of the law," Edmundson said.
The FLEP is a paid legal studies program for active-duty Air Force commissioned officers. The FLEP is an assignment action, and participants receive full pay, allowances and tuition. FLEP applicants must have between two and six years active duty service (enlisted or commissioned), and must be in the pay grade O-3 or below as of the day they begin law school. The FLEP is subject to tuition limitations, and positions may be limited due to overall funding availability. The Enlisted to Funded Legal Education Program, or E-FLEP, is a commissioning program. E-FLEP selectee(s) will be sent to Officer Training School prior to the start of law school.
The ELP is an unpaid legal studies program for Air Force officers (this program is not open to enlisted members). ELP participants do not receive pay and allowances, but remain on active duty for retirement eligibility and benefits purposes. ELP applicants must have between two and 10 years active-duty service, must be in the pay grade O-3 or below as of the first day of law school, and cannot have more than three years’ time-in-grade if an O-3.
Applications for Fiscal Year 2021 FLEP and ELP will be accepted from Nov. 1, 2020 through Jan. 10, 2021. Both the FLEP and ELP require attendance at an American Bar Association-approved law school. Upon graduation and admission to practice law in the highest court of any state, territory of the United States, or a federal court, candidates are eligible for designation as judge advocates. To be considered for FLEP or ELP, applicants must have completed all application forms, applied to at least one ABA-approved law school (acceptance is not required at the time of application for FLEP/ELP), and have received their Law School Admissions Test results by Jan. 10, 2021. Officers must provide a letter of conditional release from their current career field. E-FLEP applicants must also meet the OTS commissioning requirements from AFMAN 36-2032, including meet minimum AFOQT scores and complete an AF Form 56 (with squadron commander interview) as part of their application. Selection for these programs is highly competitive.
The selection board will be held in February. Selections are made based on a review of the entire application package using a “whole person” concept. AFI 51-101, The Judge Advocate General’s Corps Operations, Accessions, and Professional Development, Chapter 5, discusses the FLEP and ELP. Requests for updates to these publications to include E-FLEP have been submitted. For more information and application materials, visit www.airforce.com/jag, contact your base legal office, find Air Force JAG Recruiting on social media, or contact the Chief, Recruiting Branch, Headquarters U.S. Air Force /JAX (firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-JAG-USAF).