Legal Officers deliver legal services in the fields of operational law, international law, training, military personnel law, and military justice.
The primary responsibilities of a Legal Officer include:
- Providing advice on international and domestic law to the commander of a deployed force
- Providing general legal advice and services to the commanding officer of a Canadian Forces Base
- Providing advice on operational legal issues at National Defence Headquarters
- Representing clients at Court Martial and appearing before the Court Martial Appeal Court
Representing the interests of the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence as:
- A member of a Canadian delegation negotiating international treaties
- A member of the military liaison staff at an allied headquarters
- Delivering training on military law and military justice
Legal Officers are members of the Legal Branch of the Canadian 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 Canadian Forces in matters relating to military law and administers military justice in the Canadian 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 / Canadian 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.
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.
During the first appointment, a Legal Officer will be expected to complete Legal Officer Basic Training and Legal Officer Intermediate Training. Legal Officers who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.
After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 14 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian 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.
Second language training is available following basic officer training; depending on your ability in your second language, it may take from two to nine months.
During the first posting, Legal Officers are expected to complete all Legal Officer basic occupational training which will allow you 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 Canadian 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.
This position is available for part-time employment through the Reserves. Reservists generally work part-time for a Reserve unit in their community. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.
Reservists train with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required professional standards of the job. If additional training is required in order to specialize skills, arrangements will be made by the home unit.
Typically, Reservists work or train with their home unit for at least four evenings and one weekend per month, from September to May of each year. They are paid 85% of Regular Force rates of pay and receive a reasonable benefits package.