Should a service member place his or her trust in free legal services? To be sure, there are talented men and women who serve in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Legal assistance from JAG attorneys is generally available to all active duty members of the Armed Forces, as well as reservists who served on active duty at least 30 days, retirees, and lawful dependents. In some cases, federal civilian employees may also have access to free legal help from JAG attorneys.
However, legal assistance may be limited according to available resources. There’s also no guarantee that an attorney who focuses on a specific practice area will be assigned to a corresponding matter. In addition, each military service has its own regulations regarding the amount of legal services that are provided.
Are there situations where a civilian defense attorney may be necessary? For a service member facing serious charges in a court-martial, it may provide additional reassurance to have private counsel, for several reasons.
First and foremost, a civilian counsel may be able to prioritize a service member’s case, compared to a JAG attorney who might be burdened with a high caseload and who often has minimal say in the type or amount of cases that are assigned. In addition, keep in mind that a civilian attorney would function as lead counsel, but could still work in conjunction with the assigned military counsel. Having a legal team working on a service member’s case, instead of a sole JAG attorney, might provide additional peace of mind.
Our firm’s founding attorney offers the best of both worlds: He began his career as a military defense lawyer. Now that he is a civilian lawyer, that past experience is a valuable asset in understanding military defense strategy. Check out our military law firm’s website to learn more about our practice areas.
Source: military.com, “Free Legal Assistance,” copyright 2016, Military Advantage