Becoming a paralegal
By Staff Sgt. Ashley Ishmon, 17th Training Wing Judge Advocate Office
/ Published August 23, 2011
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Interested in the inner workings of the military justice system? Want to assist the prosecution with a court-martial or investigate aircraft incidents?
These are just some of the responsibilities of an Air Force paralegal.
Paralegals not only get court-martial experience and investigate claims for damage to government property, they also conduct witness interviews, and provide mentorship and guidance to young Airmen who are new to the Air Force.
Paralegals work closely with first sergeants and commanders, advising them on the legal process and the inner workings of the justice system.
People who are hard workers and looking to make a difference in the lives of the Airmen around them should consider the paralegal career field.
Most Airmen who apply are retrainees from other career fields. The process of submitting a retraining package can be a lot of work, but it's definitely worth the effort.
Airmen interested must have letters of recommendation from their supervisor, commander and first sergeant; take a typing test; and interview with the Staff Judge Advocate, who decides whether or not to recommend any Airman for the job.
In addition to interviewing with the Staff Judge Advocate, Airmen will get a tour of the legal office and meet the JAG/paralegal team. They will talk one-on-one with current paralegals, and receive an honest, open assessment of what it means to be a paralegal.
I find the paralegal career field to be very rewarding. Although I sometimes work long hours, I would not change a thing. Every career field in the Air Force is vital, but the paralegal mission goes to the heart of good order and discipline in the military. Without good order and discipline, nothing else matters.
Airmen who would like the challenge of being a paralegal should contact the Military Personnel Section or the retraining section of the Air Force Personnel Center.