While movies like “A Few Good Men” may have glamorized the role of a military lawyer, the reality is that their job is nothing very different from a regular lawyer who works in the civil courts. As a matter of fact, they are military counterparts of the civilian lawyers who work for various firms and handle their legal matters.
If you are interested in knowing more about an army lawyer and his roles and responsibilities, here is a sneak peek into the job of a military lawyer:
- Military lawyers may be called upon to carry out few or all of the duties mentioned below:
- Provide legal advice on government real estate, patents, contracts and trademarks.
- Preparation of pre-trial advice in court martial cases.
- Take on the role of Prosecution Counsel, Defense Counsel or Judge in a Court Martial.
- Draft legal documents such as power of attorney and wills.
- Make a reasonable interpretation of directives, regulations and court decisions for the benefit of the military.
- Give judgments based on UCMJ or Uniform Code of Military Justice when acting as Presiding Officer in court cases.
- Train and subsequently guide new military lawyers.
Having listed the roles that a military lawyer may have to play and responsibilities that he or she may have to shoulder, it becomes imperative to know that there are certain desirable attributes without which a military lawyer will find it difficult to discharge his or her duties effectively. They are:
- Effective public speaking skills.
- Clear and concise writing abilities.
- An eye for detail.
- Inclination towards researching and working on legal concepts.
- Sensitivity to the needs of others.
- Sense of compassion towards others.
There is no denial that these qualities are desired not only in military lawyers but also in a civilian counsel, however, the lack of them has a wider bearing on a military counsel’s reputation in the department than a non-military lawyer’s.
Examples of cases handled by Military Lawyers:
While there are several similarities in roles and responsibilities of a civilian and military lawyer, there are few differences as well. A military lawyer has to participate in various cases that may be quite different from civil ones.
Two major types of cases which a military lawyer must expect to come across are:
1. Commission or omission resulting in an offence:
The military rules have a number of offences that an army personnel may be charged with which would not ordinarily be considered an offence in the civil world. Offences different from civil cases which a military lawyer may have to deal with include overstaying on leave, desertion and insubordination by military personnel. Besides these, there are several cases which are to be dealt with in the same manner as in civil courts such as theft or murder.
Court Martial is a unique justice imparting procedure typical to armed forces across the world. A court martial is an outcome of criminal proceedings against a person in uniform. The military attorney may be asked to represent either the branch they serve or the accused.
Military lawyers handle a wide variety of cases when compared to their civilian counterparts. While civilian attorneys specialize in a branch of law, a military attorney has a wide spectrum of roles and responsibilities. Such a generalist approach to law makes career as a military lawyer highly sought after.