The application period for the Army Judge Advocate General Corps’ Funded Legal Education Program is currently open and will remain open until Nov. 1. Commissioned offers of the ranks of second lieutenant to captain with two to six years of active federal service as of Sept. 1, 2018 may apply to the FLEP program.
Approximately 25 junior officers are selected for the FLEP program, and are funded to attend law school and join the ranks of the Army JAG Corps.
Capt. Robert Wald, trial council, 20th Engineer Brigade, attended law school at the University of San Diego, California from 2012 to 2015 after being accepted to FLEP. Wald was looking for something to add to his educational skill set while continuing to serve his country.
“I wanted a concrete skill … at some point in your Army career you look back and you are like ‘I have been a leader.’ You have this general skillset. I wanted a concrete thing that I bring to the table as far as my educational expertise,” he explained.
FLEP offered Wald the benefit of an education without debt and continued participation in the Army.
“There’s no debt; the Army pays for your law school and that is significantly beneficial ... but the other benefit was that I get to stay in the Army … The people you meet in the Army are phenomenal folks, and you’re still a part of a team … as opposed to maybe some of the corporate jobs that are out there. Returning to the Army team, there is a focus on physical fitness and you still get to Soldier. They call it a ‘dual profession.’ You’re a Soldier and an attorney and that was really important to me,” said Wald.
Lt. Col. Jeff Thurnher, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, XVIII Airborne Corps, a FLEP JAG graduate, also deeply valued the continued connection to the Soldiering profession.
“I was already in the Army so I knew how much I enjoyed the camaraderie and the esprit de corps of being part of a unit and you get that benefit of still having that … We are going to be jumping later this week. We do airborne operations, we’re doing PT (physical training) five days a week, going to the range. We are doing all the fun Army activities, but also, on a day-to-day basis, you are focused on legal work and we do a wide variety of legal work,” said Thurnher.
Thurnher, although always interested in going to law school, spent his first four years in the Army working in military intelligence. After spending four years in Germany and being involved in operations in Kosovo in 1999, he decided to pursue a career in law. Thurnher applied and was accepted to FLEP. He attended the College of William and Mary in Virginia where he met his wife.
“The FLEP program is hands-down the best educational opportunity the Army offers you … You really don’t have to worry about things because you’re paid still as an officer in the Army and your tuition is paid for by the Army. It makes it very easy so you can just focus on your studies,” explained Thurnher.
Thurnher and Wald both strongly advised those considering an application to the FLEP program to focus on their current position and leadership skills.
Those considering applying should remember for what the JAG Corps is looking. They are looking for proven leaders in their field and how those leaders have performed as an officer thus far in the Army. An applicant’s focus should be on gaining leadership experience to be more competitive for the program, advised Thurnher.
“I think if folks are interested, the biggest piece of advice, I know it sounds cliché, would be to chop the wood that is in front of them … Your best foot forward as far as this program, is to do really well in the job that you have, and your OERs (Officer Evaluation Reports) matter quite a bit,” said Wald.
Interested applicants are invited to reach out and ask any questions they may have about the program.
“If people have questions they should absolutely contacts us … anybody will be happy to tell you a little bit about what a JAG officer does, what it means to be a JAG officer. So, I encourage folks to reach out,” said Thurnher.

(Editor’s note: For more information about the program, contact Capt. Jennifer L. Bryer, Operational Law Attorney, XVIII Abn. Corps, at 908-6033 or Jennifer.l.bryer.mil@mail.mil. Interested officers can also contact Capt. Robert Wald, trial council, 20th Eng. Bde., at 396-1184 or robert.e.wald.mil@mail.mil.)