By Staff Sgt. Cashmere JeffersonJuly 29, 2011
FORT SHAFTER " Hawaii-based Army paralegals routinely train every third Thursday of the month, and each quarter, U.S. Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard paralegals join them.
The joint training educates paralegals and brings the services together to keep the paralegal partnership alive on island.
The low-density program trains the Army’s Staff Judge Advocate General Corps on tasks, competence and professionalism. Once a quarter, this meeting then reaches out to all the services, to get together to train on things relevant to all the services’ paralegals.
“The interesting thing about legal is that the Uniform Code of Military Justice applies to all services,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Maestas, senior paralegal noncommissioned officer, U.S. Army-Pacific. “Likewise, the rules of engagement, laws of war and the rules of professional conduct are all uniform subjects that we consistently need to train on, (and they) are relevant to all military services.
“Whenever we’re bogged down, we can reach out to other service for assistance,” Maestas added.
While legal covers a wide variety of military topics, such as claims and powers of attorney, the focus of the joint training during the second quarter of this year was ethical duties of paralegals, including the unauthorized practice of law and professional responsibilities when using social media or drug testing.
“With the help of our joint counterparts, we try to make this training as relevant as possible to all participants, so that we can try to network and socialize with each other to make our jobs a little bit easier,” he said. “(This training also allows us to help) each other out the best we can in order to most efficiently help the communities, commanders and clients we serve.”
Maestas created the joint training program in 2002, when he was the paralegal NCO in charge for the 25th ID. Maestas moved off island shortly thereafter, and said he was “very pleased” to see the joint training still being conducted when he returned in 2009.
“It’s all about training, networking and socializing, so that we can achieve excellence as individuals, as military service members and in mission accomplishment,” he said “We try to wrap our arms around the military … on island and have not had to cancel a single training event, yet.”
The group also meets once a year for a joint service legal social, where enlisted, officers and civilians come together to have fun and network, Maestas said.