Want to go to law school on someone else’s dime? Go the FLEP way. FLEP stands for Funded Legal Education Program and is the Army’s program for sending commissioned officers to law school and paying for their law degrees. Each year, the Judge Advocate General (TJAG) sends up to 25 Army officers from Second Lieutenant to Captain to law school to earn their Juris Doctorate or Legum Baccalaureus (Bachelor of Law) degrees.
Students remain on active duty while attending school, and they continue to receive all military benefits, including medical, housing and subsistence. In addition, they are eligible for 30 days of vacation annually as well as 10 federal holidays. Competition is high for FLEP, with an average of 90 officers applying and an average of 20 applicants selected. It is unusual for all 25 slots to be filled due to budget constraints.
Students participating in the FLEP program are assigned to the U.S. Army Student Detachment, Strom Thurmond Soldier Service Center located in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, detailed under the Judge Advocate General Corps, but remain under the control of their originating branch for administrative activities. When school is not in session for breaks that exceed five days, students participate in on-the-job training, and additional TJAG training is mandatory for summer vacation.
All regulations regarding the FLEP program are contained in AR 27-1, chapter 14, and all applicants must review it for all eligibility and application requirements. A summary of the non-waivable eligibility requirements is below.
- Applicants must be U.S. citizens, serving as commissioned officers from 0-1 to 0-3 status, with at least two years of active duty but no more than six, served when class officially starts in the fall.
- Applicants must have a college degree from an accredited college or university.
- Applicants must be able to serve the six additional years of active duty required as well as meet all requirements of AR 601-100, chapter 2, section XI after completing law school.
- Have a least a secret security clearance.
In addition, applicants must submit complete application packets through proper command channels to the U.S. Total Army Personnel Command as well as the Personnel, Plans and Training Office, no later than November first of the application year. Incomplete packets, or packets that do not follow proper channels, will be returned. While scores for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) are not usually available by the application deadline and are not required to submit an application, they must be submitted before the selection board convenes.
Applicants are responsible for all expenses related to scheduling and taking the LSAT, but may apply for reimbursement with submitted vouchers for books and supplies. If an applicant does not score well on the LSAT, he may retake it, submitting all test scores to the selection board by the announced deadline.
Applicants are required to apply for admission to a variety of ABA-accredited law schools and submit application information for each. Applications are usually submitted before actual acceptance into a school, keeping in mind that the TJAG makes the final selection of which schools selectees attend. Selectees usually attend law schools in their home states or in states that grant in-state tuition rates to non-resident students.
At first glance, the application packet may seem simple to fill out, and you may be tempted to put it off. Don’t! There are many hours needed to study and take the LSAT, obtain letters of recommendation, submit applications to various law schools and send required paperwork to TJAG, and to gather documentation such as college transcripts if you don’t already have copies. I found some posts on various forums that talked about the FLEP application process, and 100 hours kept coming up. In addition, it is imperative that you read over the AR 27-1, chapter 14 requirements and adhere to every detail, including how to answer questions such as justifying your reasons for wanting to obtain your law degree and be assigned to JAG. Take it seriously. The competition is high, and a hastily-done application will likely be passed over.
I would love to hear from those of you who have participated in the Army’s FLEP program. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.