In this post, I discuss the contract and fiscal law curriculum during the fifth week of the Army’s JAG School.
Week 5 of JAG School is now over, and we are about halfway through the course. We completed our criminal law block on Monday and started contract and fiscal law Tuesday. This is a short block of instruction, which we will finish on Tuesday of next week.
Fiscal Law Classes
Contract and fiscal law essentially cover how the military pays for things, from bullets to gas to barracks maintenance. The rules are a bit complex and convoluted, and it’s not exactly the most exciting area of the law, particularly after coming off the block on courts-martial. They certainly do not make movies or television shows on this aspect of being a judge advocate.
Judge advocates serving as fiscal attorneys have to find ways to help commanders meet their goals without running afoul of the financial parameters set out by Congress. So, despite its less than exciting nature, understanding fiscal law allows judge advocates to serve commanders well by both helping them accomplish the mission and keeping them out of trouble.
This block of instruction is set up to have lectures in the morning and small group seminars in the afternoon. At the seminars, we go through various fact patterns to come up with viable solutions to issues commanders may bring us. We also go through our practical exercise from the night before.
Every evening, we receive a mock email from a commander that presents some fiscal law issue. We have to come up with a solution to the commander’s problem and help guide him or her through the process. These are very helpful because they force us to think through matters in the way we may actually have to address them.
Our answers are also governed by a very short word limit, which prevents us from answering the problem like a question on a law school exam. The idea is that we should provide commanders with the information they need without overwhelming them with legal jargon.
The physical training here is much more intense than at Fort Benning. The cadre has done a good job getting us in shape to exceed the Army’s standards. Next week we weigh in, and the following week we take our first Army Physical Fitness Test since arriving in Charlottesville.
Next week we wrap up contract and fiscal law. We will conduct a brief the commander exercise on Monday and then take a final exam on Tuesday. We will then spend just a few days on legal assistance before moving onto operations law. I will provide additional information next week.
I provide a more expansive account of my experience at the Army JAG School in my book The JAG School Survival Guide: Succeeding at the Army’s Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are the author’s own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, the National Guard Bureau, the Arkansas National Guard, the Department of Defense, or the United States Government.