DVIDS – News – Misawa Wins Best Air Force Legal Aid


Each year, the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP) selects recipients of the ABA LAMP Distinguished Service Award. Those chosen for this award are individuals and units who set the bar for military legal assistance, pushing themselves and their practices in extraordinary ways.

This year, the 35th Fighter Wing (FW), Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, was recognized as the Air Force recipient of the ABA LAMP Distinguished Service Award, at Misawa Air Force Base, Utah. Japan, June 28, 2022.

“The legal office has proven to be an agile, resilient and confident team of legal professionals,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Adam Olsen, staff judge advocate for the 35th FW Legal Office. “They are dedicated to supporting Misawa Air Base through innovative advancements, comprehensive outreach, and joint services coordination to achieve operational legal readiness.”

The 35th FW Legal Office, colloquially known as the “Legal Weasels”, serves Misawa, which has a base population of over 11,500 and supports eight associated army, navy and military units. United States Air Force, as well as the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

The Legal Weasels consist of a team of five lawyers, nine paralegals and three Japanese nationals, who manage an efficient legal assistance program that prioritizes customer service, resulting in major innovations in assistance legal.

One of the innovations created in 2021 was the Misawa MILNATZ program, the Air Force’s first-ever overseas naturalization program and ceremony. This innovation allows applicants to complete the naturalization process remotely instead of being conducted by the U.S. Department of State and United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) at the U.S. Embassy. United in Tokyo.

“After implementing this new virtual process, the legal office now serves as the liaison between USCIS and the member applying for citizenship, allowing interviews to be conducted virtually with no travel required,” Olsen said. “It saves travel costs, travel time, hotel stays and all other expenses, calculating to save families an average of $5,000 and up to six trips to Tokyo.”

The second innovation was a comprehensive Just-In-Time Deployment and Permanent Station Change (PCS) guide that simplifies legal preparation for service members. The guide helps educate and help service members get their legal affairs in order while on the move, allowing them to focus on the mission.

Additionally, with the recent launch of the Lexis Estate Planning platform, the Air Force’s new estate planning service, Legal Weasels have created a fillable spreadsheet that contains wills, living wills, and health care powers of attorney, which clients must submit prior to estate planning. appointment. The Legal Office has shared its innovation with Air Force Legal Support offices around the world.

“The guide we’ve created is designed to identify issues warfighters may face before and during a deployment or PCS, so they can seek appropriate and timely legal advice,” Olsen said. “The fill-in-the-blank worksheet we’ve also created simplifies the preparation of estate planning documents prior to legal assistance appointments, not only saving the client time, but saving valuable lawyer and attorney hours. paralegals.”

Finally, the Legal Weasels have developed a local marriage program that ensures all local laws and Department of Defense requirements are followed, and they conduct marriage ceremonies in the Legal Courtroom. The process begins with helping the couple fill out a marriage application, followed by a prenuptial briefing by attorneys from the legal office. The Legal Office also helps individuals complete the required affidavit and ensures that members have all the necessary documents.

“Navigating the marriage process in Japan was one of the many unique challenges service members faced at Misawa Air Base due to the remote and foreign location,” Olsen said. “Since this new development, Legal Weasels have performed 36 weddings in 2021, ultimately improving military morale and quality of life.”

Overall, in 2021, Legal Weasels provided services to 1,582 clients, drafted 1,668 documents and reviewed 3,499 forms, saving clients $143,270 in legal fees, with outstanding client satisfaction.

“We were honored with this award not because of the volume of legal support we provide, but the quality of the support we provided, including going the extra mile for clients and clients,” Olsen said. “The young Legal Weasel team identified gaps in our support and by using existing technology and building relationships, both inside and outside the Air Force, were able to ‘to establish sustainable programs that impact the quality of life of all Misawa team members.

Date taken: 28.06.2022
Date posted: 07.12.2022 00:09
Story ID: 424770

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