Posts Tagged ‘military’

Standard Provide Paralegal Fulfillment.

Monday, September 9th, 2013

From ISAF Regional Command South in Kandahar, Afghanistan, comes a profile of Cpl. Natasha Hunter, a paralegal, Staff Judge Advocate, 4th Infantry Division. I’ve posted several times on members of our military serving as paralegals, especially in overseas positions. Their stories are always inspiring. Those that achieve in these positions share some common traits, but each is unique. Here’s some of the story on Cpl. Hunter:

“I’ve known her the entire time she has been in, and I’ve been working with her for almost two years,” Stewart said. “She is driven and has the internal drive. She always wants to succeed and to do better – a perfectionist. It’s something you either have or you don’t,” says Capt. John Stewart, trial counsel, SJA, 4th Infantry Division.

Standards are what bring Hunter fulfillment in her job…Hunter’s strength is derived from her relationships and passion for standards.

“She wants to do the right thing all the time,” said Sgt. Maj. Mark Cook, sergeant major, SJA, 4th Infantry Division. “She goes out and looks for the right thing. It’s built in; it’s her character to do the right thing for herself and others. That’s what makes her strong.”

And for those of us who complain about conditions where we work: “The toughest part is being away from family and friends, but that is part of my obligations, my duty,” Hunter said, looking at the pictures resting on her desk of her mother, two younger sisters, and a 2-year old Jack Russell Terrier named Pita.

Paralegal Glory

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

As previous posts here have indicated it seems that the military is often far ahead of civilian legal services in recognizing the value of paralegals and the need to view the attorney/paralegal relationship as a team. For example, The Las Cruces Sun-News is carrying a story from the White Sands Missile Range announcing an award received by the Range’s JAG office:

The Legal Assistance Office at White Sands Missile Range was recently awarded the Chief of Staff Award for Excellence by the Army’s Office of the Judge Advocate General for their excellence in legal assistance in the category of a medium office…

While any award to a legal services office must be a team effort, Lt. Col. James Dorn, Staff Judge Advocate clearly recognizes the role of the paralegals:

“All the glory belongs to George Clark and our paralegals because it really is a team effort,” said Dorn

“They were basically going that extra mile as far as service goes. We received the award for excellence, so that pretty much says it all.”

Here’s some more on how they managed to provide increased service with the same manpower:

Legal assistant Willie Smith said in order to accommodate the increase in appointments, the office increased the times they would accept appointments by four hours. Although he is honored by the award, Smith said his greatest reward is helping soldiers on a daily basis.

“I’ve been around for 11 years helping soldiers when they have problems, and helping them to solve the problems is my reward,” Smith said.

Clark said the feat of increasing the workload without adding an additional employee could not have been done without the flexibility of everyone in the office and the ability to take on different roles. According to Clark, the office consists of one attorney, one paralegal and two legal assistants.

How often does a law firm attempt the same thing only to find that the staff is not fully on-board? How many of those instances are the result of not recognizing the importance of paralegals both on a daily basis and particularly after the previous times they were called upon to “kick it up a notch?”

It only feels like a war zone

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I understand the tendency of paralegals to describe their workplaces by comparison to war zones, but usually avoid such comparisons out of respect to those who are serving in real war zones (although sometimes the two coincide). When it comes to stress and happiness, a frequent topic here recently, apparently some lessons from the war zone can be applied to the legal field. This post from ABAJournal.com references attorneys but much of it is applicable to paralegals also. Here’s an excerpt:

Happiness researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are working with the U.S. Army to teach soldiers how they can bounce back from the stress of deployment in a war zone. Those lessons also can apply to lawyers, says one of the school’s experts, lawyer Dan Bowling.

Writing for the Careerist blog, Bowling lists 10 happiness tips for lawyers, many of them lessons developed for the military training…

A few of Bowling’s tips:

• People are happiest when their jobs play to their strengths. “If you are a happy-go-lucky extrovert, try to avoid spending 10 years doing discovery requests,” he says.

• Keep your perspective. “The universe doesn’t revolve around you and your worries,” Bowling writes. “If you aren’t in the top half of your class, it’s not the end of the world, although it might seem like it when first-year grades come out. If you don’t make partner, life will go on.”

• Be sociable and thankful. Keep in contact with friends and express gratitude to those who matter.

Here’s a link to the original article on the The Careerist blog.

JAG Flag Course Focuses on Legal Team

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

A public affairs notice from the Maxwell Air Force Base reports on a JAG/paralegal training course held there in May. The course sounds fascinating just in terms of the law being taught: “During the operational law course, students receive lecture and seminar instruction in deployed fiscal law, contingency contracting, law of armed conflict, legal assistance before and during deployments, deployment-related claims, rules of engagement, joint and combined operations, and civil law issues during deployed operations.”

However, I found most interesting the fact that the course focuses on building the legal team. “This ten-day course trains judge advocates and paralegals to identify and analyze legal and political implications of international military operations, teaches students how to apply legal principles and reinforces the JAG paralegal team concept.” (Emphasis added.)

I also like the method of teaching:

Upon completion of classroom and seminar instruction, students then deploy in judge advocate-paralegal teams to the exercise, which provides a field environment where students apply their classroom learning to specific deployment-related legal scenarios while under the direct supervision of senior judge advocates and paralegals with deployment experience. …The scenarios the students face vary and can sometimes prove cumbersome. During one scenario, the students find themselves in a foreign country attempting to establish whether a person captured by a simulated CIA agent can be detained under the Laws of Armed Conflict. They must assess the situation, establish the person’s rights and then implement their decision. A marshal, played by a senior judge advocate, then discusses the scenario with the students, identifies the proper legal solution and critiques what the students did right and wrong.

It seems to me that more legal teams should be trained in this fashion. It often seems artificial to be training paralegals and attorneys totally detached from each other and then trying to meld them into a team later. I would prefer to have more paralegals programs connected directly to law schools rather than located in separate business schools or departments. At the vary least, there should be more programs where paralegal students work side-by-side with law students during the clinic experience. My recent research indicates that this may indeed by the trend at this time.