Legal and the NCO Leader
The NCO corps has always been a source of leadership and guidance for the lower enlisted soldiers appointed under them. Soldiers bestow their trust in them out in the field, which is exactly why they’re being incorporated into the military courts. Most soldiers fear “JAG”, ( Judge Advocate General), due to the image that their going to take your rank, pay, or incarcerate you. What most don’t know is that the JAG also represent you in military court and who would better suit to assist them in your legal matters then your paralegal NCO’s. Throughout this writing I’m going to inform you exactly how JAG officers and NCO paralegals qualify/obtain their jobs, the benefits they obtain from them, and what role they play in assisting soldiers with their military court matters.
JAG is an organization that works for the government and operates like a court system. Practitioners are given the title (Judge Advocates). “JAG officers are licensed and qualified attorneys that represent the Army and Army soldiers in military legal matters.” (Https://www.goarmy.com) To become a JAG officer you must first meet the basic requirements which are:
Must be a U.S. citizen
Pass a security clearance
Pass the physical standard/army physical fitness test
Must have graduated from and ABA- accredited law school
Applicant must have been admitted to the bar of a federal court
Training to become a JAG officer is a two step process. First you must complete 6 weeks at DCOC (Direct Commissioned Officers Course) located in Fort. Benning, GA, followed by a 10.5 week course in the Charlottesville known as TJAGLCS (The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center). Once completed, these officers serve as full time or part time practitioners for military courts. JAG officers are eligible for promotion six to twelve months after their date of commission.”
The MOS that an NCO paralegal holds is a 27D, which is a paralegal specialist. “The job consists of assisting judges, judge advocates, and unit commanders with legal matter and judicial matters.” (Https://www.goarmy.com) Some of the duties of a 27D are:
Giving commanders paralegal support
Prepping and providing legal docs in court- martial and article 15 actions
Reviewing the line of duty determinations
Assisting in family law as power of attorney, wills, and separation decrees
The requirements of becoming a 27D are:
Must have an ASVAB (CL) score of 105
A clean recorded other then minor civil offenses
No history of negative mental health problems
Pass the physical and height/weight requirements
The training consists of:
10 weeks of basic training
10 weeks of AIT (Advanced Individual Training)
Soldiers are compensated for housing, medical, food, special pay, and 30 days of paid vacation. The skills learned are legal terminology, army judicial process interviewing, preparation of legal documents, and interviewing witnesses. While in AIT paralegals earn credits towards the American Bar Association or their bachelors degree. They obtain 10 semester hours from completing AIT.
NCO paralegals are similar to JAG officers but they are still attending their courses to obtain their degree. They have the most educated MOS in the ARMY. Many NCO paralegals already have their degree and they enlist to pay off student loans and to eventually access the officers corps as a judge advocate. The NCO’s have been through the same training at their soldiers and they understand the day to day life of basic soldiering. The NCO paralegal may not offer advice to their clients or friends seeking legal advice. The can only share what the know as far as regulations. NCO’s provide legal docs in court and assist the JAG with understanding the Army customs and standards from the lower levels that they may be unfamiliar with. NCO paralegals are frequently used as pay officers to compensate foreign residents with injuries, loss of life, and property damage caused by American service members.
When paired together, JAG officers and NCO paralegals make a strong well balanced team. The officer knows the law and the NCO knows the soldier. Soldiers try to withdraw advice from the NCO because of their similarities as a traditional but they must hold their ground and inform them of the regulations, or link them up with a JAG officer. Military law differs from civilian, which is why the army offers specific jobs for commissioned and enlisted soldiers to defend and prosecute soldiers in the Army.