Mathis discusses summer in the Army JAG Funded Legal Education Program

Photograph: Jonathan Mathis.Are you interested in JAG?? Ever wonder how it works? Current 2L Jonathan Mathis talks about his summer experience in the Army JAG’s Funded Legal Education Program. For more information visit: Army JAG Corps

My name is Jonathan Mathis and I am originally from Overland Park, Kansas. I am currently a 2L at Washburn University School of Law and expect to graduate in 2015. I am also an Active Duty captain in the United States Army and participating in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Funded Legal Education Program (FLEP).

Each year the Army selects up to 15 officers to participate in FLEP; which allows those officers to complete law school at approved civilian law schools at the Army’s expense. In return, the officers owe six years time in service and spend their summers conducting On-the-Job-Training (OJT) at the nearest Army installation. OJT consists of a rotation through the captain-level JAG positions for up to 60 days. These positions include: legal assistance, administrative and civil law, operational law, brigade trial counsel, and trial defense services.

This past summer I spent the majority of my OJT time in the 1st Infantry Division's administrative and civil law section at Fort Riley, KS. Duties in the administrative and civil law section include reviewing administrative disciplinary hearings, providing guidance to officers assigned as investigators in financial or potential criminal investigations, and drafting opinions on fiscal, environmental, operational, and other legal issues that arise in the garrison environment. Over the summer I was fortunate enough to experience almost all of these opportunities and contributed in writing over 20 legal reviews for criminal, administrative, and financial investigations.

I did not spend much time in the other divisions this summer, but I was allowed to sit in on a weeklong General Court Martial from beginning to end. The Army, and entire military, fall under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and therefore does not precisely follow state or federal law. However, the procedural and substantive law is demonstrably similar to the law we have and will study, which gave me a lot of insight into the inner workings of a full blown trial; from the jury, or panel, selection to the sentencing. Overall, the OJT program has given me a significant amount of practical experience that I believe will be readily applicable to our academic classes and future as attorneys.