The role of a Judge Advocate, or JAG, is varied depending on the specific assignment. The initial criteria to be a Judge Advocate is to have gone to law school, be licensed to practice law in at least one State, and complete the required military training to be a military officer and military attorney. There are Judge Advocates serving in the military in nearly every type of position. There are prosecutors, defense attorneys, administrative law attorneys, human rights attorneys, professors and legal assistance attorney handling general criminal issues for servicemembers.
My experience started out as representing and advising servicemembers and their families in Legal Assistance. In that role, I prepared wills, basic trusts, powers of attorney, simple legal documents, and wrote letters on behalf of servicemembers attempting to resolve any personal legal issues. Thereafter, I was assigned as a Trial Counsel, or prosecutor, and represented the United States in the criminal investigation and prosecution of servicemembers. The Trial Counsel typically has two enlisted soldier–paralegals and is responsible for prosecuting cases at trial, overseeing criminal investigations, preparing letters of reprimand, and generally supervising the disposition of all misconduct. After serving as a Trial Counsel for over a year for the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade (Airborne), and jointly assigned to the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA), I was transitioned from prosecuting soldiers to defending them and was offered the opportunity to deploy to a combat zone to defend soldiers. I was re-assigned to the command of the U.S. Army Trial Defense Service and deployed to Iraq. Once in Iraq I was immediately assigned as the lead defense counsel for Specialist Jorge G. Sandoval Jr.