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What is an Air Force paralegal?

From left: Senior Airman Mahafuz Uddin talks with Airman 1st Class Victoria Gelinas at the Edwards Legal Office.  Both are Air Force paralegals. Edwards, and the Air Force as a whole, are looking for a few good men and women to crosstrain into the paralegal career field. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenji Thuloweit)

From left: Senior Airman Mahafuz Uddin talks with Airman 1st Class Victoria Gelinas at the Edwards Legal Office. Both are Air Force paralegals. Edwards, and the Air Force as a whole, are looking for a few good men and women to crosstrain into the paralegal career field. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenji Thuloweit)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Have you ever thought about working in the legal career field?

If you want a challenging, meaningful job that allows for personal growth, independence in your work, and making a difference, then being an Air Force paralegal may be right for you.

To become a paralegal you will need to know about some of the duties, eligibility requirements, and what it takes to be selected.

Air Force paralegals have been in existence since May 1, 1955, and have gradually grown to play a prominent role in the Judge Advocate General's Corps.

JAGC's primary mission is to provide legal counsel to commanders, first sergeants and other key personnel on a broad spectrum of legal matters. Paralegals play an important role by assisting attorneys in achieving that mission. Paralegals support virtually all areas of the legal office, including military justice, claims, civil law, legal assistance, contracts and environmental law. They conduct legal research, interview witnesses and victims, draft opinions and documents, and support investigations of serious incidents such as aircraft, missile or rocket and ground accidents. Training is provided both on-the-job and in the classroom.

The training outline consists of 3, 5, and 7 skill levels. Technical training for 3- and 7-level is held at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. To upgrade to 5-level, training is accomplished on the job. Paralegals have the opportunity to attend several specialized courses like operational law, advanced claims, Victim and Witness Assistance Program, Income Tax, and sister- service advanced paralegal courses. Attending these courses will allow you to receive credit from the Community College of the Air Force and contribute to an associate degree in paralegal studies that is accredited by the American Bar Association.

The following are requirements to be able to retrain into the paralegal career field:
  • Ability speak clearly and distinctly
  • Type a minimum of 25 words per minute
  • Minimum general aptitude area ASVAB score of 51
  • Letters of recommendation from your commander, first sergeant, and immediate supervisor
  • No court-martial convictions or derogatory information in your records (Article 15, LOR, UIF)
  • Must be personally interviewed by Staff Judge Advocate and Law Office Superintendent
This field can be very challenging but at the same time very rewarding. If this is what you seek, then the paralegal career field can be right for you.

For more information about the paralegal career field and becoming one of the "best of the best", contact the Edwards Legal Office NCOIC, Staff Sgt. Misty Mayes at (661) 277-4310 or email at misty.mayes@edwards.af.mil.
 
Some common questions and answers:

Q: How long is technical training?
A: Paralegal technical training is six weeks long.

Q: Will I be able to prosecute a court-martial?
A: No. Only attorneys can prosecute courts-martial, however, as a paralegal, you will assist the attorney in the court-martial process from start to finish.

Q: Is the paralegal career field open to all ranks?
A: Currently, the career field is accepting applications for all ranks. However, this changes regularly, please contact the Legal Office for the most up to date information.