The SJA to CMC has three deputies. One serves as Deputy SJA and Deputy Director of JAD for HQMC Legal Support. Another serves as Deputy Director of JAD for Military Justice and Community Development. The third serves as Deputy Director of JAD for Reserve Legal Support. JAD is divided into seven branches that fall under two of the three deputies:
Deputy SJA and Deputy Director, JAD, HQMC Legal Support
JAA – Administrative Support: manages the internal administrative requirements of JAD
JCA – Civil and Administrative Law: legal review and guidance on civil and most administrative law matters, including professional responsibility
JPL – Military Personnel Law: full range of military personnel law matters
JAO – International and Operational Law: full range of international and operational law matters
Deputy Director, JAD, Military Justice and Community Development
JMJ – Military Law: advice on military justice policy and legislation, and advising and assisting trial counsel in the field
JCD – Community Development, Strategy, and Plans: long-term strategic planning, writing and managing legal community doctrine, strategic communications, coordination of judge advocate manpower requirements and assignments, and overall coordination of IT support for legal community
JLA – Legal Assistance: administers Marine Corps legal assistance program under 10 U.S.C. § 1044
Deputy Director, JAD, Reserve Legal Support – oversees the provision of Reserve legal support to the Marine Corps and heads the JAD Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) Detachment
The SJA to CMC also exercises functional supervision over two independent legal organizations within the Marine Corps:
DSO – Defense Services Organization: headed by the Chief Defense Counsel of the Marine Corps, the DSO provides defense counsel services to Marines worldwide
VLCO – Victims' Legal Counsel Organization: headed by the Officer in Charge, the VLCO provides certain legal services to eligible victims of crime
A Marine officer with a law degree attends Naval Justice School where he or she is instructed in the fundamental principles of military justice, civil and administrative law, and legal assistance, with practical application of those principles, in order to assist in the attainment of good order and discipline and a high standard of legal practice and administration. Upon graduation from the school, the Marine is designated as a judge advocate (MOS 4402) and will begin his tour in the Fleet Marine Force as an attorney.
Judge advocates provide legal advice and support to commanders, Marines, sailors, and their families to promote the readiness of the force and contribute to Marine Corps mission accomplishment.
The 4402 MOS is assigned as a primary MOS to an officer who has:
Obtained a Juris Doctor from an American Bar Association-accredited law school; completed The Basic School at Quantico, VA; completed the Basic Lawyer Course at the Naval Justice School, Newport, RI; and is a member in good standing of a federal bar, or of the highest court of a State or the District of Columbia; and
Been certified by the Judge Advocate General of the Navy in accordance with Article 27(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice to serve as a trial or defense counsel in courts-martial.
As company grade officers, judge advocates ordinarily serve as litigators, legal assistance attorneys, victims’ legal counsel, assistant review officers, or command legal advisors. Litigation opportunities exist as trial, defense, and victims’ legal counsel in courts-martial; as Special Assistant United States Attorneys in United States federal court; and as recorders, counsel for the respondent, or victims’ legal counsel in administrative discharge boards. Judge Advocates either conduct or supervise investigations into claims for and against the United States and other matters required by regulations. Judge advocates provide command legal advice on matters including military justice, administrative law, civil law, standards of conduct, ethics, operational law, and international law.
As majors, judge advocates may serve as Staff Judge Advocates or Deputy Staff Judge Advocates and provide command legal advice. Judge Advocate Majors may also serve as Senior Trial Counsel, Senior Defense Counsel, or Regional Victims’ Legal Counsel at either a Legal Services Support Section (LSSS) or a Legal Services Support Team (LSST).
Majors and lieutenant colonels may perform duties as a labor, procurement, or environmental law specialist at various area counsel offices.
Lieutenant colonels may also serve as Staff Judge Advocates, Deputy Staff Judge Advocates, Regional Trial Counsel, Regional Defense Counsel, or Officers-in-Charge of an LSST. Colonels may serve as Staff Judge Advocates or Officers-in-Charge of an LSSS.
All field grade judge advocates may serve as military judges after being screened by a judicial screening board. Professional military education and continuing legal education opportunities exist for all judge advocates.
Judge advocates have the pursue advanced study in disciplines relevant to the mission of the Marine Corps. An NMOS may be given to field-grade judge advocates who fulfill certain requirements. Judge advocates who obtain the necessary Master of Laws degree (LL.M.) as a captain will not receive the additional MOS until promoted to the rank of major.
Judge advocates with an LL.M. in international law serve in challenging billets requiring an understanding of complex international and operational law issues. Officers may serve as Staff Judge Advocates or Deputy Staff Judge Advocates for service or joint commands.
Judge Advocates with an LL.M. in Environmental or Land Use Law serve in challenging billets requiring an understanding of complex statutory and regulatory environmental and land use issues. Majors and lieutenant colonels may serve as deputy counsel in an area counsel office or for the counsel to the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Must hold an LL.M. in Environmental or Land Use Law from an ABA-accredited program at a civilian institution.
Judge advocates with an LL.M. in Labor Law serve in challenging billets requiring an understanding of complex statutory and regulatory civilian personnel law issues. As majors and lieutenant colonels they may serve as deputy counsel in an area counsel office or for the Counsel to the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Must hold an LL.M. in Labor or Civilian Personnel Law from an ABA-accredited program at a civilian institution.
Judge advocates with an LL.M. in Procurement Law provide the Marine Corps with an understanding of complex fiscal and contracting issues. Officers may serve in Marine Corps Systems Command, area counsel offices, or augment special staffs in an expeditionary environment.
Must hold an LL.M. in Procurement Law from an ABA-accredited program at a civilian institution or have completed a specialty program in Contract and Fiscal Law from the graduate course at The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, U.S. Army.
Judge advocates with an LL.M. in Criminal Law serve in challenging billets requiring expertise in military and criminal law issues. As majors, they may serve as Senior Trial Counsel, Senior Defense Counsel, Regional Victims’ Legal Counsel, or Complex Trial Counsel. Lieutenant colonels with this specialty may be assigned as Regional Trial Counsel or Regional Defense Counsel.
Must hold an LL.M. in Criminal Law from an ABA-accredited program at a civilian institution or have completed a specialty program in Criminal Law from the graduate course at The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, U.S. Army.
MOS 4410 – Master of Law (General) (NMOS) – LtCol-Maj
Judge advocates with an LL.M. in administrative and civil law or general studies serve in a wide variety of billets throughout the Marine Corps. As majors they provide Senior Judge Advocates with a highly skilled officer prepared for duty as a Deputy Staff Judge Advocate or within any section of an office involved in the practice of law.
Must hold an LL.M. from either the general studies program or have completed a specialty program in Administrative and Civil Law from the graduate course at The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, U.S. Army.