Keeping the Client Informed
To the client his or her case may represent one of
the most important things in his or her life. The case
may also be a source of anxiety. Naturally he or she
expects and is entitled to receive a continuing report on
the progress of the case. This maybe done with little or
no extra effort on either your part or the legal assistance
attorneys part by sending copies of correspondence to
the client, or by an occasional telephone call to report
the status of the case. A periodic letter, even though
there is little to report, will be appreciated. This shows
that the legal assistance attorney has not allowed the
matter to be buried or forgotten. This could be done by
the legal assistance office staff on a monthly diary basis
to save the lawyers time. Each month a brief status
report from individual case records could be prepared,
reviewed by the legal assistance attorney, and sent to the
client concerned to bring him or her up to date on the
status of the case.
Legal Assistance References
To help the legal assistance client, you should be
familiar with the various reference materials available
in the office where you work. Some of these reference
materials are common for all legal assistance offices and
included in these are the Legal Assistance Handbook,
DA PAM 27-121; the Voting Assistance Guide,
NAVEDTRA 46007; the All States Income Tax Guide
published by OJAG, U.S. Air Force; the Legal
Assistance Newsletters published by OJAG, U.S. Navy;
the Military Personnel Manual (MILPERSMAN); and
the Manual of the Judge Advocate General
(JAGMAN). Additional reference materials will vary
from office to office depending on the geographical
location of the office and the types of services provided
by that office.
LEGAL ASSISTANCE SERVICES
The scope of the practice of law and the legal
assistance attorneys duties and responsibilities are
governed by JAGINST 5801.2. Advice and service
regarding the following matters are normally available
to eligible persons at legal assistance offices, but may
be limited due to availability of resources:
. Basic wills, trusts, and estate planning
Complex estate planning and drafting is not routinely
provided in the legal assistance program.
. Domestic relationsAdvice about the legal and
practical implications of divorce, legal separation,
annulment, custody, and paternity is provided.
Assistance in domestic violence cases will be consistent
with the Department of the Navy Family Advocacy
Program, SECNAVINST 1752.3.
. Adoption and name changesAdvice and
document preparation, including pleadings, are
provided as appropriate.
l Nonsupport and indebtednessAdvice and
assistance, including communication, correspondence,
and negotiations with another party or lawyer, on behalf
of the client, are provided as appropriate.
c TaxesBasic advice and assistance on federal,
state, and local taxes are provided as appropriate, Legal
assistance attorneys do not sign returns as paid
preparers, nor do they normally prepare tax returns.
assistance including review of personal leases and
communication and correspondence in behalf of the
client are provided as appropriate.
. Civil suitsAdvice and appropriate assistance
are given. In-court representation is prevented, except
as provided in the expanded legal assistance program.
Procedures and requirements of small claims courts and
other courts of limited or special jurisdiction are
explained and appropriate referral made.
Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief ActAdvice
and assistance are provided as appropriate about the
protection afforded and the effect of the act on the client.
. Criminal mattersLimited general advice may
be provided regarding minor (misdemeanor) criminal
matters and traffic offenses within the jurisdiction of the
civilian courts. Serious criminal matters are not within
the scope of legal assistance and are referred to military
defense counsel or private civilian attorneys, as
l Other servicesAdvice and assistance are given
on powers of attorney, real estate, bankruptcy, contracts,
consumer affairs, insurance, immigration,
naturalization, and other areas if not inconsistent with
legal assistance regulations. Advice and assistance
regarding military matters may be provided subject to
the limitation stated in the JAGMAN.
LIMITATIONS ON SCOPE OF LEGAL
Persons requiring the advice or assistance of an
attorney on a personal legal matter, as contrasted with a