REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - Nearly half of Army Materiel Command's paralegals and support staff traveled to Redstone Arsenal July 17-19 to attend a three-day legal education program.

The first of its kind in over a decade, this program provided paralegals and support staff with education and training critical to supporting their legal missions across the command. While similar to paralegal training offered at The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia, the AMC program provided focused instruction in areas relevant to Army Materiel Command paralegals over a shorter timeframe than the two-week course provided by the Army JAG School.

Thirty attendees from legal offices across all of Army Materiel Command received training on ethics, professional responsibility, records management, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), witness preparation and interviews, official document preparation, bid protest support, and Lexis-Nexis based legal research.

"Paralegals are critically important," said AMC Command Counsel Brian Toland. "A good paralegal will enable the attorneys to really do their jobs better and accomplish the mission."

This is the first internal education program for Army Materiel Command paralegals since 2006.

"We haven't brought as many paralegals together in over a decade, so I thought it was time," said Toland. "I appreciate the support of the commanders."

Although not attorneys, because of their specialized training, paralegals are able to complete many tasks for attorneys, such as legal research, witness interviews, and legal document preparation.

"Attorneys can't do everything," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Trish Melgar, the course administrator. "Training paralegals to complete tasks that don't require an attorney helps promote readiness."

The benefit of a legal education program for paralegals extends beyond readiness. For participants, it offers a rare networking opportunity. "You're meeting your peers across the AMC footprint," said Melgar. "I think it's a huge benefit to make new contacts and learn what other paralegals are working on."

Now that the first course is complete, Melgar said the command hopes to have a paralegal education course like it every other year.