Marine Judge Advocates take responsibility for caseloads immediately in their first tour. With the assistance of supervisory judge advocate mentors, new attorneys immediately begin practicing law in the fields of criminal litigation, institutional compliance, government ethics, and administrative law. If you think you have the fighting spirit in you to win on battlefields, as well as in courtrooms, the Marine Corps presents the opportunity to prove yourself as a Marine Judge Advocate.
Marines who serve as Judge Advocates are responsible for upholding the law, codes and values of the Marine Corps. These specially trained legal professionals can work in roles where they represent both individual Marines and the Corps to fight and win battles at every court level in the Nation.
The Judge Advocate Division is much like a large law firm, composed of more than 400 judge advocates and a comparable support staff.
Marine Corps Judge Advocates will likely serve as federal prosecutors or defense attorneys in felony-level courts-martial during their first tour and have the opportunity to expand their practice into specialized areas such as military operational law, international law, cyber law, or criminal justice.
As unrestricted line officers, Marine Judge Advocates also have opportunities to serve in a wide variety of positions, from commanding battalions of Marines to arguing appellate cases before the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals or the United States Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces.
All Marine Judge Advocates are unrestricted Marine Corps Officers. There are several paths to pursue a commission and ultimately serve as a Judge Advocate whether you are an undergraduate, law school student or licensed attorney.
PLATOON LEADERS CLASS – LAW
This option is open to first- and second-year law students and to college seniors who have been accepted for full-time study at an ABA-accredited law school.
OFFICER CANDIDATE COURSE – LAW
Third-year law students and bar-certified lawyers begin their training at the Officer Candidate Course.
As a prosecutor, defense attorney, or victim’s legal counsel you will litigate felony and misdemeanor criminal cases before military judges and juries. Additionally, as a prosecutor, you will coordinate with NCIS to direct criminal investigations into serious and complex crimes. In the course of your USMC career, you may also argue appellate cases before the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals or the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
As you gain experience, you may eventually transition to other areas of law, such as Civil Law, Administrative Law and Legal Assistance, or act as in-house counsel to Marine Corps headquarters staff. You will research and write internal memoranda and opinions and advise commanders on all legal issues affecting the command – from fiscal law to government ethics and risk management. You will also work closely with Marines and their families on Family, Consumer, Tax, Estate, and Immigration Law issues.
Marine Judge Advocates maintain the same readiness and training standards as every Marine Officer and are worldwide deployable. Marine Judge Advocates have opportunities to deploy with scalable Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTF) around the world. Deployed Marine Judge Advocates support commands and their Marines through a broad spectrum of military and international law.
A Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) deploys to respond to large, global conflicts. When this happens, large-scale military operations require legal advice in areas such as Rules of Engagement, Law of Armed Conflict, Detention Operations, Investigations, Fiscal Law, Government Contracting, and Status of Force Agreements to name a few.
The Marine Corps Judge Advocate program accepts applicants at all stages of legal education. Applicants should possess a competitive LSAT, competitive undergraduate and law school GPA, and must be admitted to or enrolled in a full-time Juris Doctorate program at an ABA-accredited law school. Following law school graduation and certification to practice law, Judge Advocates will come on active duty to attend The Basic School (TBS) in Quantico, VA. From there, Marine Judge Advocates receive military-specific legal training at Naval Justice School (NJS) in Newport, RI. After NJS, Marine Judge Advocates are assigned to their first permanent duty station and immediately begin advising Marines and Marine Commanders on legal issues and begin building real courtroom experience.