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?”