|Motto||"Soldier first, lawyer always"|
|Type||U.S. Service Academy|
|Established||February 1, 1942|
|Dean||LTG Charles Pede|
The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School educates military, civilian, and international personnel in legal and leadership skills. The center is operated by the United States Army and is located on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Judge Advocate General's School, the center's graduate-level division federal service academy, is accredited by the American Bar Association to award the Master of Laws (L.L.M.) degree in Military Law. The Master of Laws (L.L.M.) curriculum includes courses in Administrative and Civil Law, Contract and Fiscal Law, Criminal Law, and International and Operational Law.
The Legal Center and School (LCS) is led by a brigadier general who serves as the commander/commandant, a colonel as the chief of staff/XO, a warrant officer who serves as the senior warrant officer advisor for the LCS, a command sergeant major who serves as the senior enlisted advisor for the LCS and also as the commandant of the Noncommissioned Officer Academy and a government civilian who serves as the executive director. The school is led by a colonel who serves as the dean, and the center is led by a colonel who serves as the legal center director. The school's five academic departments are led by lieutenant colonels and a chief warrant officer Four. Faculty members are lieutenant colonels or majors who are licensed attorneys and are members of the Army Judge Advocate General's Corps. With the exception of the legal administrator and Paralegal Education Department, each academic department has at least one faculty member who is a judge advocate in the navy, air force, or marine corps.
Prior to entry into the JAG School, all Army judge advocates must have graduated from an ABA-accredited law school and be admitted to practice law by the highest court of a state or federal district. While some judge advocates have prior enlisted or commissioned experience, most are direct commissioned and have no prior military training or experience. The JAG School is generally considered the most exclusive graduate service academy within the U.S. Federal Government. Acceptance into the Army JAG Corps and subsequent JAG School is considered "highly selective" with an acceptance rate ranging between 4-7%. In 2017, the Army JAG Corps accepted 200 out of 4,000 applicants. The JAG School has a long history of supplying attorneys into the military and federal government roles, particularly the federal judiciary.
The initial entry training into the JAG Corps is composed of two phases, first a 6 week Direct Commission Course (DCC) at Fort Benning, Georgia followed by military legal training at the JAG School.
Despite a long record of service by Army Judge Advocates, it was not until the beginning of World War II that efforts were made to provide Army attorneys with specialized military legal education. In February 1942, as uniformed lawyers' responsibilities increased in volume and complexity, specialized continuing legal education courses for Judge Advocates began in Washington, D.C. In August 1942, the school moved from Washington's National University School of Law to the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Intended only as a temporary facility, it was deactivated in 1946 during the general demobilization following World War II. In October 1950, another temporary school was activated at Fort Myer, Virginia on land that is now a part of Arlington National Cemetery. After graduating six classes, it was decided a permanent school for Army lawyers should be established. In August 1951, the Army accepted an offer from the University of Virginia to move the school there permanently. The Seventh Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course and First Judge Advocate Officer Advanced Course began in the fall of 1951. The school has remained at the University of Virginia and is now located adjacent to the University of Virginia School of Law.
After moving to Charlottesville, The Judge Advocate General's School was initially located in Clark Hall, then behind Clark Hall in what is now called Kerchof Hall. In 1975, the school relocated to the university's North Grounds, moving at the same time as the law school. The building, and the adjacent law school building, were designed by Hugh Stubbins & Associates with Rawlings, Wilson, and Fraher. An addition to the building, designed by Bohlin, Powell, Larkin, and Cywinski in collaboration with Johnson, Craven, and Gibson, was completed in 1991.
The Judge Advocate Officer Graduate Course is the school's "flagship" course. Accredited by the American Bar Association, the course prepares experienced military attorneys for supervisory duties and other positions of increased responsibility within their respective services. Students who successfully complete the course are awarded a Master of Laws degree in Military Law. Selection to attend the course is a permanent change of station assignment; students do not attend in a temporary duty status. Each class consists of attorneys from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, as well as international military students and Army civilian attorneys. International military students have come from Egypt, Israel, Poland, Romania, South Korea, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other nations. All students are licensed attorneys who generally have five to eight years of experience.
The Graduate Course covers a full resident academic year from mid-August to mid-May. The fall and spring semesters include core classes required of all students. In the second quarter of the fall semester and in the spring semester, students select from approximately fifty electives offered by the school's four academic departments: Administrative and Civil Law, Contract and Fiscal Law, Criminal Law, and International and Operational Law. Students may specialize in one of the four academic areas in conjunction with the Master of Laws. To qualify for a specialty, a student must either write a thesis in the area of specialization, or earn at least ten elective credit hours and write an extensive paper in the area of specialization.
In addition to the Judge Advocate Officer Graduate Course that leads to the Master of Laws degree, the school trains new Judge Advocates through the Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course (three courses are completed each year), provides continuing legal education for Judge Advocates and other attorneys, and trains legal administrator warrant officers, paralegal noncommissioned officers, and court reporters. The school's Noncommissioned Officers Academy offers the Advanced Leaders Course and the Senior Leaders Course.