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yirang

A path to becoming a Legal Officer /Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the Canadian Armed Forces

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14 hours ago, yirang said:

If I'm not going to be in the CAF as a soldier I actually don't want to go to law school

This sets off alarm bells to me. Am I right to understand that you want to go to law school specifically to do JAG, and that if you can't do JAG, you'd rather serve in the CF than practice law? That makes law school a huge gamble on one potential job. Like, what happens if you turn out to be medically unfit? What happens if there's a long-term hiring freeze just when you graduate? What if it turns out military life is not for you after all?* I would discourage you - or anyone else - from pursuing law school unless you can think of at least 3-4 plausible, acceptable career paths coming out of it. There's just too much randomness and too much time/money/life at stake.

* This is extremely common and is not a function of your pre-enrolment enthusiasm

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On 8/8/2018 at 1:00 AM, yirang said:

Yes! Definitely!

Here it goes,

1) I heard from a friend that you don't do much strength training in BMQ due to the risk of injuries but instead do a lot of cardio/long walks? Is this true? 

2) I was wondering if being in the reserves without signing a contract (Temporary Full-time) and solely attending parades every week and training was enough to say that you had prior military experience when I apply for Legal Officer occupation or should I sign a contract with them?

-The reason I ask is because I also wanted to experience being a city police officer (Full-Time) at the same time being in the reserves as a logistics officer (Part-Time) for about 2-3 years before attending law school, in the sense that everything works out smoothly. Is this even possible? I heard stories but stories are well... Stories. :) 

I want to reduce the time it takes for me to chase my dream career at the same time trying to experience much as I can to a reasonable degree of course. 

Bodyweight strength training.  They'll never put you in a weight room.  Tons of cardio and long walks and ruck marches, but they'll never make you run in boots due to that risk of injury.  It really cripples the unit administratively to have people out with self-inflicted injuries.

You're proposing, I think, too many things at once.  If you were enlisting as a logistics NCM, you might be able to pull some of this off, but officer training is rather long.  I also wonder what it would do to your muscle memory trying to train both to arrest disorderly civilians and to close with and destroy the enemy at the same time.  I have a litany of trained behaviours in respect of firearms due to my limited service in the reserves, and I don't think they'd be all that compatible with policing.

That isn't to say you can't do both; people do.  I'm just saying that I would find it complicated to try learning both at the same time.  One then the other would be easier.

21 hours ago, yirang said:

Maybe Law school is within 2 years or maybe the next 10 years. However, the biggest reason for joining the reserves as well as the desire to join the Police force was because... I HAVE NO IDEA what they're like. I want to try them both and see what they're like and what the right career path is for me. 

Get into the reserves first.  It's nothing like what you've seen on American TV.  It's a bureaucracy and it smells like wet felt.  It's a lot of sitting in the sun waiting for something to happen while drinking warm water from a Korean War canteen just trying to stay awake on three hours of sleep.

It's also a lot of great and exciting things, but it's a human institution like any other.  It's like university being taught by all adjunct staff with no idea how to teach.  That'll either make you resentful and think the place is a bunch of amateurs; or it will breed in you a we're-all-in-this-together, let's-figure-it-out-together attitude.  Yeah, the warrant's power point presentations are terrible.  But he's so shit-hot as an ammo tech you're rooting for him and trying to absorb whatever you can.  He's a soldier, not a high school teacher.

I would strongly, strongly suggest that you get yourself into the reserves to see if you like the kind of courses you'll be taking, the kind of people you'll be working with, the kind of organization you'll be working for.  Some people fall immediately in love with it; hopefully that's you.  From my time, I could easily see why some people immediately stick to that career like glue.  But there's a lot of demystifying to take place before you make that decision.

15 hours ago, yirang said:

Definitely! That is actually how I see it as well. If I'm not going to be in the CAF as a soldier I actually don't want to go to law school... I'd rather continue on as a logistics officer in the CAF rather than practice at some private law firm. 

Then under no circumstances go to law school before serving at least full-time reserve for a couple of years.

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51 minutes ago, MOL said:

I recall having a couple Mounties in my law school class. The force was paying their way, guess they felt that it would be a good idea to have a couple serving members with legal credentials. This is going way back however and I don't believe the program is still in effect. Interestingly enough, I seriously considered a spot once as defence counsel for Mounties in disciplinary matters, it was actually a full time gig. A buddy who was a member told me to take it if I wanted a lot of beer bought for me. I sometimes wonder if that might not have been the right call : )

Off the top of my head, I'd say that my force has sent maybe 8-10 people to law school over the last 20ish years.  There's definitely a lot of value in having a lawyer in-house who is also a police officer and I think various forces are starting to see that.  That program is pretty rare though and is highly competitive and only run when there are no lawyers or members with law degrees in the pipeline. 

One of the civilian lawyers that I work with did a similar role with the Mounties and really enjoyed it before transferring here.  I think the Mounties equate their civilian lawyers like a whiteshirt cop so he really enjoyed that. 

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Just now, Stark said:

Off the top of my head, I'd say that my force has sent maybe 8-10 people to law school over the last 20ish years.  There's definitely a lot of value in having a lawyer in-house who is also a police officer and I think various forces are starting to see that.  That program is pretty rare though and is highly competitive and only run when there are no lawyers or members with law degrees in the pipeline. 

One of the civilian lawyers that I work with did a similar role with the Mounties and really enjoyed it before transferring here.  I think the Mounties equate their civilian lawyers like a whiteshirt cop so he really enjoyed that. 

But do they get to carry guns or badges? :-D

I'm curious, do you get many lawyers applying?

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1 minute ago, MOL said:

 

But do they get to carry guns or badges? :-D

I'm curious, do you get many lawyers applying?

haha no gun or badge but all the cops had to call him "Sir" even though he was a civilian and he would frequently find helping hands that would take his briefcase and anything he was carrying from the parking lot to his office.  EPS isn't quite as paramilitary so our poor civilian lawyers don't get any of that haha. 

I don't know the numbers for all of the major forces but I think EPS probably has among the most cop lawyers in the country for whatever reason.  I'd say there's probably 15-20 cops with law degrees in this service.  We just had two graduate from law school this year and another two who are slated to graduate next year.  Our last recruit class had one lawyer in it and the upcoming recruit class has one guy with a law degree who hasn't yet articled.  We also had someone who was a Crown for a while who then became a cop for 6 years but then chose to return to the Crown. 

All of the people with law degrees have had a very good career in policing so it's definitely a viable option for someone who finds policing interesting and isn't drawn to the more standard law practices.  It allows you to be a cop and then if you ever miss law or want the more steady hours, every service has a legal department and a lawyer with a policing background will always have more value than a lawyer who is not a cop and you'll be snatched up immediately.

 

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36 minutes ago, MOL said:

 

But do they get to carry guns or badges? :-D

I'm curious, do you get many lawyers applying?

The more important question. Did he get a horse? 

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1 hour ago, Uriel said:

Bodyweight strength training.  They'll never put you in a weight room.  Tons of cardio and long walks and ruck marches, but they'll never make you run in boots due to that risk of injury.  It really cripples the unit administratively to have people out with self-inflicted injuries.

You're proposing, I think, too many things at once.  If you were enlisting as a logistics NCM, you might be able to pull some of this off, but officer training is rather long.  I also wonder what it would do to your muscle memory trying to train both to arrest disorderly civilians and to close with and destroy the enemy at the same time.  I have a litany of trained behaviours in respect of firearms due to my limited service in the reserves, and I don't think they'd be all that compatible with policing.

That isn't to say you can't do both; people do.  I'm just saying that I would find it complicated to try learning both at the same time.  One then the other would be easier.

Get into the reserves first.  It's nothing like what you've seen on American TV.  It's a bureaucracy and it smells like wet felt.  It's a lot of sitting in the sun waiting for something to happen while drinking warm water from a Korean War canteen just trying to stay awake on three hours of sleep.

It's also a lot of great and exciting things, but it's a human institution like any other.  It's like university being taught by all adjunct staff with no idea how to teach.  That'll either make you resentful and think the place is a bunch of amateurs; or it will breed in you a we're-all-in-this-together, let's-figure-it-out-together attitude.  Yeah, the warrant's power point presentations are terrible.  But he's so shit-hot as an ammo tech you're rooting for him and trying to absorb whatever you can.  He's a soldier, not a high school teacher.

I would strongly, strongly suggest that you get yourself into the reserves to see if you like the kind of courses you'll be taking, the kind of people you'll be working with, the kind of organization you'll be working for.  Some people fall immediately in love with it; hopefully that's you.  From my time, I could easily see why some people immediately stick to that career like glue.  But there's a lot of demystifying to take place before you make that decision.

Then under no circumstances go to law school before serving at least full-time reserve for a couple of years.

I love how astoundingly accurate this is - I found my time in the reserves to be great in terms of gaining life experience. It gives you a pretty good idea of what you'd expect as a Reg Force soldier. There's no amount of mumbo jumbo propaganda from the recruiters at your local recruiting centre that will accurately portray what you can or should expect - the only real way to know is to get in there and do it. If you do join, I think you'll find that it'll be one of the best and worst, but oddly most rewarding experiences of your life.

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On 2018-08-08 at 1:00 AM, yirang said:

Yes! Definitely!

Here it goes,

1) I heard from a friend that you don't do much strength training in BMQ due to the risk of injuries but instead do a lot of cardio/long walks? Is this true? 

2) I was wondering if being in the reserves without signing a contract (Temporary Full-time) and solely attending parades every week and training was enough to say that you had prior military experience when I apply for Legal Officer occupation or should I sign a contract with them?

-The reason I ask is because I also wanted to experience being a city police officer (Full-Time) at the same time being in the reserves as a logistics officer (Part-Time) for about 2-3 years before attending law school, in the sense that everything works out smoothly. Is this even possible? I heard stories but stories are well... Stories. :) 

I want to reduce the time it takes for me to chase my dream career at the same time trying to experience much as I can to a reasonable degree of course. 

Sent you a PM. :) 

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13 hours ago, Uriel said:

It's nothing like what you've seen on American TV.  It's a bureaucracy and it smells like wet felt.  It's a lot of sitting in the sun waiting for something to happen while drinking warm water from a Korean War canteen just trying to stay awake on three hours of sleep.

This.  

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On 8/7/2018 at 8:31 PM, yirang said:

A Brief Info about myself: I am going to be graduating this April 2019 with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree (Accounting Major) with a deep passion to join the Canadian Armed Forces as a Legal Officer in the distant 5-7 year time frame. I know that you are required a J.D., admittance to the BAR and a year of Article experience. I applied for the Reserves as a Logistics Officer so that I could get a taste of the occupation and the military life itself. I speak Fluent English, Korean and semi fluent French which I will be working to improve continuously.

 

Question: I was curious on the additional information about the family life as a legal officer, what type of courses in law schools would look favorably, how often would I have to move, does the name of the law school you attend matter, How competitive is the Legal Officer Recruitment? Just by the given info, would I have a pretty good chance of potentially becoming one? Or any other information about the occupation would be deeply appreciated.

*Just an answer to one of these concerns would be extremely grateful.

Thank you for your precious time!

Family Life: I think @Uriel said once that, despite having no time, people on Bay Street seem to make family lives happen. I think the military is much the same, regardless of trade. If you want a family, and you're willing to prioritize it, the military won't stand in your way any more than most practice areas. That said, be aware that you may get deployed and that may mean being away from your SO for months at a time, or you may move (see below) and need to drag them along with you. Those things do weigh on a relationship.

Courses : My friend wasn't particularly helpful on this point, and I think that's really because the CAF doesn't care. If you were to take exclusively transactional business courses that may be an issue, but as long as you take courses that lend themselves to litigation, you'll likely be fine. 

Moving: You'll generally start your career in Ottawa. My understanding is that legal officers move less often than a lot of other trades, but it's still a very real possibility. As a member of the CAF, you go where you're needed. My friend has moved three times in the past 10 years, not including the move to Ottawa at the start. He's never been forced to move, but found that moving allowed him to progress his career in ways that staying in Ottawa would not. That's roughly what most of my friends in the Navy have done, so it doesn't sound like it's all that different. The other thing to consider is that you're likely to be deployed a few times, or you'll want to go on deployment in order to further your career. 

Name Recognition (#Prestigedebate): My friend says they don't care, which makes sense since the CAF is interested in experienced lawyers generally.

Competition: The process is apparently extremely competitive, with the CAF regularly turning down candidates they don't think are experienced enough. Legal Officer is a well paying job (starting at 100k, it's practically Bay Street and beats most cities in Canada), with amazing benefits + pension (beats pretty much all cities in Canada) and only 150 spots total. My understanding is that they usually don't hire candidates before they have at least a year or two post-call under their belts. There will be exceptions, but they're rare and more dependent on needs. Also keep in mind that they may not be hiring at all when you want to apply, and that the application process takes quite a while. 

On 8/8/2018 at 2:09 PM, yirang said:

I also have an interest/preference of being in Ottawa and was curious if your friend was already bilingual ? Or they trained him in french/English so that he could be stationed there. 

The CAF will teach you French if necessary.

On 8/8/2018 at 2:09 PM, yirang said:

Would you know how long your friend was idle, as in, how long did the process take for him to become an actual legal officer? From the first time he applied to actually becoming one.

Single data points won't be particularly helpful here, since the timeline can vary wildly. I don't know about legal officers, but I know people who have waited over two years and people who have waited a few months to join the CAF generally. 

I'd echo the sentiments above about figuring out what exactly you want to do ahead of time. Law school is an expensive hobby if you really want to be a soldier/airperson/sailor. 

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