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CHAPTER 11 LEGAL ASSISTANCE As an LN, you may become involved with a section of law that is called legal assistance. This particular section of law is so diverse that it covers nearly every type  of  law  practiced  in  the  United  States.  Legal assistance  cases,  for  example,  run  the  gamut  from domestic  relations  and  taxation  to  veterans’  rights. Although your daily role in the legal assistance area is to assist the legal assistance attorney, you also maybe responsible for solving routine problems. You must, therefore,  be  able  to  distinguish  complex  legal  problems from  simple  legal  matters  and  also  be  able  to  identify areas  of  difficulty  that  merely  concern  administrative affairs. A  complete  discussion  of  your  duties  is explained later in this chapter. LEGAL  ASSISTANCE  PROGRAM The legal assistance program has provided needed legal  advice  and  assistance  to  military  personnel  and their dependents since 1943. Legal assistance is the giving of advice and assistance about personal legal problems  of  a  civil  nature,  as  distinguished  from criminal or official service matters. PURPOSE Personnel  problems  that  remain  unsolved  adversely affect morale and efficiency and frequently result in behavior that requires disciplinary action. The purpose of the legal assistance program is to provide prompt assistance to resolve personal legal difficulties. The program serves as an effective preventive law measure that   contributes   to   the   morale   and   efficiency   of commands. POLICY The policy of the Department of the Navy is to maintain,  from  available  resources,  a  legal  assistance program  to  make  eligible  persons  aware  of  their  legal rights and obligations. The program is designed to help military personnel and their dependents obtain adequate legal  advice  and  services  from  within  the  military service. LEGAL ASSISTANCE ATTORNEYS All Navy and Marine Corps judge advocates on active duty, Regular or Reserve, and all civilian lawyers under the cognizance of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) who are members of the bar of a federal court or of the highest court of any state or in foreign countries who are authorized to practice law in the courts of the country  concerned  are  designated  legal  assistance attorneys. Navy and Marine Corps judge advocates not on active duty may be designated as legal assistance attorneys  by  JAG. While  performing  legal  assistance  duties,  legal assistance attorneys are guided by the  Professional Conduct of Judge Advocates, JAGINST 5803.1, and the Standards   of   Conduct   and   Government   Ethics, SECNAVINST 5370.2J. Persons who are authorized to practice law in the courts of a foreign country are guided by similar standards that have been issued for the guidance of lawyers in the country concerned. NONLAWYER  PERSONNEL Nonlawyer legal officers, LNs, independent duty LNs, and legal clerks may assist attorneys, but they may not provide legal advice or provide services that call for the  professional  judgment  of  an  attorney.  Nonlawyer personnel may provide assistance not requiring the attention  of  an  attorney,  as  outlined  in  the  Legal Assistance  Manual,  JAGINST  5801.2. PERSONS ELIGIBLE FOR ASSISTANCE Legal assistance is intended primarily for active duty personnel and may be provided to members of the Armed  Forces  of  the  United  States  on  active  duty, including reservists and members of the National Guard on active duty for 30 days or more. As  resources  permit,  legal  assistance  may  also  be provided to the following categories of people in the order  listed: 1.  Dependents  of  active  duty  personnel  and dependents  of  personnel  who  died  while  on  active  duty. 2.  Retired  military  personnel. 11-1

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