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
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.
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
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
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 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
1. Dependents of active duty personnel and
dependents of personnel who died while on active duty.
2. Retired military personnel.