Judge advocates are appointed officers of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. Judge advocates represent the Army in military legal matters and serve as legal advisors to help uphold military law, as specified in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Judge advocate also plays a key role in referring cases to courts martial, negotiating pre-trial agreements and taking actions on cases after court martial has concluded. There are more than 1,000 judge advocates on active duty and nearly 4,000 in the U.S. Army Reserve and the National Guard.
Before a convening authority refers charges to a general court martial, the authority’s staff judge advocate is responsible for giving written advice and recommendation on the given charges. A convening authority must also seek a judge advocate’s advice before referring charges to a special court martial. For advice given after January 1st, 2019, a staff judge advocate need not provide a written post-trial recommendation.
All judge advocates must graduate from an ABA-accredited law school and be certified to practice law. Although most judge advocates do not need a prior military experience, entering the JAG Corps requires completion of a multi-phase orientation and a professional development course.
[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]