Becoming a Legal Officer in the Forces is unlike practicing in any other law area. You’ll have the opportunity to advise the chain of command and high-ranking officers on both domestic and international operations and military justice. When deployed overseas, you’ll bring your expertise to local officials, base commanders, and even international organizations such as the United Nations. One day you may be on Parliament Hill with the Minister of National Defence working on a new bill progressing through Parliament. The next, you may be deployed on a peacekeeping mission anywhere in the world.
Legal Officers are members of the Legal Branch of the Forces. This branch is commanded by the Judge Advocate General that acts as legal adviser to the Governor General, the Minister of National Defence, the Department of National Defence and the Forces in matters relating to military law, and administers military justice in the Forces.
The Office of the Judge Advocate General provides the military justice system with military judges, prosecution and defence counsel. A Legal Officer may also work at the Office of the Department of National Defence as a Forces Legal Adviser, working in such areas as legislative drafting, pensions, claims and administrative law. A Legal Officer could also be appointed to the military bench to serve in the independent Office of the Chief Military Judge.
As a Legal Officer, your primary responsibilities are to deliver legal services in the fields of operational law, international law, military justice, and also provide training on military law and justice. At home, you will provide general legal advice and services to the commanding officer of a Forces Base, advise on operational legal issues at National Defence Headquarters or represent clients at a Court Martial, or appear before the Court Martial Appeal Court.
When deployed abroad, you will be called upon to provide advice on international and domestic law. You will represent the interests of the Forces and the Department of National Defence as a member of a Canadian delegation negotiating international treaties or play your part as a member of the military liaison staff at allied headquarters.
Salary and Benefits
The starting salary for a fully-trained Legal Officer is $77,000 per year. However, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Regular promotions through the junior officer ranks take place based on the completion of required training and on the length of service as an officer.
Professional Training and Development
During your first appointment, you will be expected to complete Legal Officer Basic Training and Legal Officer Intermediate Training.
As a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, you have access to ongoing training. You also have the opportunity to travel the world and enjoy several other services and benefits. If you demonstrate dedication, and have the potential and required skills, you may be selected for opportunities for career advancement, promotions (beyond junior officer ranks) and advanced training.
Basic Military Qualification
After enrolment, you start Basic Military Officer Training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Forces, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.
Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.
During the first posting, Legal Officers are expected to complete all Legal Officer basic occupational training which will allow them to work in the varied areas of employment within the Office of the Judge Advocate General.
Legal Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including graduate degrees.
All Legal Officers must be admitted to the Bar of a Canadian province or territory, and be a member in good standing of a provincial or territorial law society. If you already have a university degree in law (LL.B. or J.D.), the Forces may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.
To be eligible to apply to the Canadian Armed Forces, you must:
- Be a Canadian citizen.
- Be 17 years of age (with consent from a parent or legal guardian) or older, except for junior candidates in the Regular Officer Training Plan who must be 16 or older.
- Have completed at least Grade 10 or Secondary IV in Quebec.
- Certain entry programs and occupations require higher levels of education, such as Legal Officer, which requires a university degree.
Join the Forces
Learn how you can become a Legal Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and discover over 100 other job opportunities at Canada.ca/forces-jobs, by calling 1 800 856-8488 or by visiting a Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment Centre near you.