The Army Legal Services Civilian Associates Program (CAP) corporately identifies and builds leaders in the Army legal services system by recruiting, hiring, developing and retaining highly capable, motivated law school graduates who have a strong interest in a career in public service. By drawing graduates from diverse backgrounds, the CAP provides a continuing source of trained men and women to meet the future challenges of Army legal services.

Upon becoming an associate, the selectee can expect challenging work, significant responsibility, and exceptional development opportunities to serve the public while gaining valuable legal experience in the process. Associates may be assigned to work in a headquarters or field setting within any of the Army legal services organizations of the four civilian attorney qualifying authorities (QAs). Assignments may include on-the-job training, continuing formal education provided by Federal government institutions or private sector entities to strengthen legal skills; visits to Army facilities and sister agencies; and attendance at conferences and meetings with other Federal agencies and officials.

During this four-year program, the associate will expand his or her knowledge of the Federal government, acquire in-depth knowledge of the Army legal services mission and programs, develop strong legal and leadership skills, and be prepared to assume a journeyman attorney position at the end of the program.

CAP positions will be considered developmental, with the opportunity for noncompetitive grade increases after a period of successful performance. CAP associates are required to execute a 3-year mobility agreement that may terminate sooner upon placement from the ACTEDS Table of Distributions and Allowances (TDA). At the end of a successful two-year period, the associate will be placed within one of the QAs and will complete the remaining items of their individual development plan.


CAP selectees are graduating law students (or recent law graduates who are completing a judicial clerkship) who are selected for the program following a successful completion of a rigorous application and screening process. All CAP candidates must have an excellent academic record, possess leadership ability and demonstrate a strong commitment to public service.

The specific criteria for eligibility include:

  • Completion of a Juris Doctor degree from an American Bar Association accredited law school, or scheduled completion of a judicial clerkship by a recent law school graduate, during the current academic year;
  • Academic ranking in the upper third of the law school class;
  • Demonstrated oral and written communication skills;
  • Indication of academic excellence such as law review or Order of the Coif; and,
  • Other relevant factors such as significant work experience, advanced degree in addition to a law degree, or technical background in relevant fields.

Recruiting is a three-phase process that is centrally managed by a CAP coordinator.

1. Phase One.

  1. On-campus interview schedules are arranged with law schools and minority job fairs throughout the country.
  2. On-campus interviews are generally scheduled for September and October. Schools are selected on the basis of their academic program and minority profiles. On-campus interviews are conducted by selected attorneys in the field and headquarters. For on-campus interviews, students are asked to submit a writing sample and transcript.
  3. Field interviewers evaluate and rank candidates based on the selection criteria and forward written evaluations and recommendations for interviews to the selection committee, comprised of representatives from the four QAs.
  4. For candidates who have already graduated, a vacancy announcement is published to solicit applications directly from CAP candidates; these applications are screened by the selection committee.
  5. Candidates are asked to state their activity and geographical preference at the time of their initial application or interview.

2. Phase Two.

  1. The selection committee reviews the field recommendations (or screening results for candidates applying directly) and selects semi-finalists to participate in a second interview with one or more members of the selection committee.
  2. The second interview occurs about 2-4 weeks after the initial interview or screening.
  3. Once candidates are interviewed and evaluated, the list is provided to the servicing Civilian Personnel Operations Center (CPOC) to prepare a referral list.

3. Phase Three.

  1. The selection committee will provide the referral list to the QA's with related information regarding placement options.
  2. The QA's will jointly select and assign the associates to a legal office within one of the QA's, where the office head shall determine the associate's initial supervisor.
  3. At the point of selection, the QA's will jointly approve the professional qualifications of the associates.
  4. After graduating from the 4-year program, or upon being competitively selected for a position outside the CAP, former associates are subject to the professional qualification requirements of the gaining QA.
  5. Once selected and qualified, formal offers will be extended and the process should be completed by the close of the calendar year.

Associates who are not already licensed attorneys will be appointed to an excepted service term (NTE 14 months) Law Clerk position (GS-0904-9). Upon becoming a member in good standing of the bar of a state, territory, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and after approval of professional qualifications, associates will be non-competitively converted to an attorney position (GS-0905-11) in the excepted service. Those who are already members in good standing with an applicable bar will be appointed to an attorney position at the outset.

Associates will be assigned to the ACTEDS student detachment Table of Distributions and Allowances (TDA); managed by the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1. ACTEDS funds all costs (salary, benefits, training, travel, and per diem) incurred in employing and training associates for a maximum of 24 months.

Associates must be reassigned to a permanent position on local mission rolls not later than expiration of the 24-month ACTEDS funding limitation. After 18-months in the program, the CAP program coordinator will solicit associate preferences for placement and will simultaneously evaluate future openings within Army legal services. The program coordinator will devise a placement plan for review and approval by the QA's. Once approved, the associate will be noncompetitively placed in the position and the majority of the employment costs will be assumed by the gaining office. ACTEDS funds training expenses related to completion of the remaining 24-months of the Master Associate Training Program, explained below.


This Master Associate Training Plan (MATP) describes the universal requirements for associate training and development. The MATP is analogous to the Master Intern Training Plan as set forth in AR 690-950; however, it recognizes the unique requirements of attorneys in the excepted service.

Within the allocated resources, ACTEDS can be used to fund training as stated in the MATP. The plan will be divided into two 24-month periods. The first period is intended to develop the basic foundation needed to be an Army attorney. This initial period will be heavily focused on rotational assignments, training, and experiences that both orient the associates to the Army and begin their integration into the Army legal services. General functional skills training and basic leader development will be the focus of this first period. A minimum of two rotational assignments (typically lasting NLT 90-days) and 80 hours of formal training per year is required for each associate during the initial two-year period.

The second period is more heavily focused on developing a specific legal practice area and it may more heavily rely upon local development from within the legal office, with less of an emphasis upon rotational assignments and off-site training.

The MATP provides a "roadmap" to be used by associates and supervisors when preparing an Associate Individual Development Plan (AIDP), explained below. Specifically, the MATP will include:

  1. A graphic representation showing the associate promotion ladder and related salary increases.
  2. Information for development of an associate individual development plan.
  3. A list of required and recommended courses and on-the-job training and the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) being developed by the training.

The associate's supervisor of record and the associate will prepare an Associate Individual Development Plan (AIDP) within 30 days of the associate's initial entrance on duty. The AIDP is a training and development guide that also sets goals and plans for use of training resources and is consistent with the goals of the MATP. It also allows the associate to establish contacts and become familiar with various components of the Army legal services system. The AIDP is a planning document to be revised annually. Due to the associate's unique professional development requirements, the shorter period AIDP is required versus the 3yIDP outlined above.

The AIDP should implement the MATP by including planned rotational assignments and the learning objectives for each rotation, short- and long-range goals, and training activities, including participation in CAP training conferences. The AIDP must be reviewed and signed by the associate, his or her supervisor, and mentor. The learning objectives outlined should include the core competencies of the Army civilian attorney. Ideally, the associate should be exposed to all core legal competencies through rotational assignments, on-the-job training, and formal training.


Associates should be assigned projects that challenge them and take advantage of their capabilities. Associates need to be developed in-house both technically and managerially, and should learn the skills and duties of permanent staff, when feasible, especially for the specialized legal competency to be developed during the MATP's second period. Although highly desirable, some rotations may not always afford associates the full range of responsibilities given a permanent employee. However, participants can still assume a significant amount of responsibility for a project of more limited scope.

Supervisors should also ensure that associates' work assignments include a mix of both programmatic duties and leadership and management-related experiences. Developmental experiences related to management might include involvement in developing budgets or work plans, participation on an organizational task force, or leading a small workgroup. Some projects should expose participants to high-level managers and provide insight into the managers' responsibilities.

Rotations are a critical element of the CAP experience. They allow associates to contribute to different programs, develop a broad understanding of the Army's mission, acquire a variety of professional skills, and lay the foundation for future higher level and leadership responsibilities. Rotations must be carefully planned. Ideally, rotations should have the following characteristics:

  • Durations of generally no less than three months and involve different types of work assignments.
  • Include interaction with as many different parts of the Army legal services as possible.
  • Focus on developing specific professional skills or fulfilling particular legal competencies.
  • Complement the associate's existing knowledge or professional interests.
  • Allow associates to gain different perspectives on serving as an Army civilian attorney by performing different assignments in the assigned office or by rotating to another legal office within the Army.
  • Allow associates based in a field office to rotate to a headquarters location and vice-versa.

Rotations should be at all organizational levels (installation/operational level, intermediate command level, and HQDA/HQ Qualifying Authority level). For many associates, several rotational assignments will be appropriate. Overall, the number and time allotted for rotations for each associate is expected to vary.


Associates are expected to attend CAP-sponsored orientation and training conferences and participate in other CAP-sponsored activities. These programs are an important component of CAP participant training and generally include essential program information on specific legal topics and issues of importance to the Army and the Department of Defense. These activities are intended to broaden the associate's knowledge of the federal government and the Army legal services system and develop a network with other CAP participants.


1. Performance Period. Associates will follow the Army's standard General Schedule senior system appraisal period of 1 July through 30 June each year. The supervisor of record is responsible for completing the interim and annual review, with appropriate input from those supervising any developmental assignments not resulting in a change of rater.

2. Aligning Performance Expectations and Training Requirements with Organizational Strategic Goals. Performance objectives for associates will incorporate and focus the goals of the MATP, the AIDP and any on-the-job training experiences planned for the appraisal period. When communicating performance objectives to associates, supervisors will fully explain the relationship between the performance objectives and training requirements to achieving organizational goals and objectives and, ultimately, mission accomplishment.

3. Unsuccessful Performance. If the associate is in a probationary period, serious consideration must be given to the appropriateness of the associate's continued government employment. If the associate is not in a probationary period, serious consideration must be given to determine if the employee should be allowed to remain in the CAP. Performance deficiencies should be addressed in a collaborative manner between the employee, supervisor, and mentor. The CAP coordinator must be notified of all proposed adverse actions.


Each participant contributes greatly to the overall development of the program, both individually and in concert with other participants. Communication and coordination enhance the CAP experience, and the agencies involved in the program. The primary CAP participants are listed below, along with their significant responsibilities:

1. Supervisors of Record. Supervisors provide instruction, guidance, and feedback to associates. The success of each associate and the program itself is due in large part to the interaction associates have with their supervisors. A CAP supervisor is responsible for:

  1. Meeting with the associate to establish the office's expectations and conditions for evaluating performance and achieving developmental objectives;
  2. Completing the associate's performance evaluation;
  3. Assisting the associate in the development of an AIDP which allows for a reasonable number of rotations;
  4. Monitoring the execution of the associate's AIDP;
  5. Maintaining contact with the rotational supervisors;
  6. Assisting with administrative issues, e.g., travel, health benefits, etc.;
  7. Providing time during work hours for the associate to attend CAP activities and CAP-sponsored training conferences;
  8. Assigning the associate appropriate work;
  9. Initiating all appropriate personnel actions in a timely manner;
  10. Providing regular feedback and guidance;
  11. Maintaining a basic knowledge of the program; and,
  12. Helping associates develop and evaluate potential rotational assignments.

2. Associates. Associates are offered many different learning opportunities throughout the program. However, associates must take control of their own career development and advancement by:

  1. Developing and reviewing the goals established in the AIDP;
  2. Achieving goals and objectives established for each rotation by the associate and his/her supervisor;
  3. Participating in all CAP-sponsored career development activities;
  4. Working closely with CAP coordinators, his or her supervisors and mentor; and,
  5. Selecting rotations with both long- and short-range career goals in mind.

3. Mentor. Mentors are valuable sources of information and advice for associates. They help the associate understand the federal government, the Army, and his/her position in the agency. A mentor/ associate relationship is very personal and can contribute greatly to an associate's success. Responsibilities include:

  1. Playing a key role in the associate's career development;
  2. Providing guidance, advice and support to enhance the associate's professional development;
  3. Serving as a resource for rotational opportunities;
  4. Linking the associate into a wider network;
  5. Helping to develop and evaluate potential rotations; and,
  6. Reviewing the associate's annual AIDP.

4. Rotational Supervisor. The rotational supervisor is the manager responsible for the associate during the temporary assignments outside of his or her assignment location. These supervisors are responsible for:

  1. Ensuring that the associate is assigned a full and appropriate workload;
  2. Developing objectives to be accomplished during the assignment;
  3. Communicating the objectives to the associate prior to the beginning of the assignment; and,
  4. Evaluating the associate's performance during the rotation and providing an assessment to the supervisor of record.