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Military Lawyer: Who Are They? What Do They Do?

Updated: November 15, 2023
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A military lawyer is the person to call when a service member or spouse faces legal action within military court proceedings. They can provide a defense or push back against the evidence mounted against their client.

There are different laws and rules that military lawyers follow in contrast to civilian lawyers. If you need a military lawyer, ensure that you hire the individual best-suited to fight your charges since the consequences of a conviction are severe.

What is a military lawyer?

Military lawyers are members of the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corp. They address legal actions that occur within the military. Unlike other lawyers making money from contingency fees, they are paid a military lawyer salary as they do not receive retainers or contingency fees like civilian lawyers. They are paid according to their rank and years of service.

Branches of military service members that they represent include:

  • Army
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Marines

They protect the rights and offer legal advice to military service members and personnel accused of a civil or criminal violation. However, military crimes can have severe consequences for service members, which means you should speak with a military lawyer if you need legal advice.

Check out this article on what a military lawyer is.

What is military law?

Military law is a vast body of law that is separate from civil codes. What may be considered a crime or violation in the military may not in the civilian world. Military laws address issues surrounding enlisted servicemembers and officers.

While every case has different facts, military law generally addresses:

  • Conduct issues during active duty or training
  • Protecting military spouses and dependents
  • Re-entering civilian society when tour duties have concluded
  • And more

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) regulates military conduct. A list includes more than sixty actions in which service members cannot perform while on activity duty or in training. A violation can result in a commanding officer (CO) punishing the service member or sending a referral for court-martial and subsequent trial.

Here is another article on military law.

Who needs a military lawyer?

When you are facing military proceedings, it affects your future tremendously. Obtaining legal counsel from a civilian-military lawyer will provide an opportunity to defend your case strategically. Since there is so much at stake, searching for a “military lawyer near me” is well worth the effort.

You may need a military lawyer when:

  • Reason #1: You are being accused of a criminal offense
  • Reason #2: You are dealing with landlord-tenant disputes
  • Reason #3: You are trying to avoid a court-martial
  • Reason #4: You are accused of treason and need a military lawyer treason defense team

If you are convicted of a crime, the consequences are steep for military members, including losing a job, future income, retirement, and more. Accused service members and personnel need to retain counsel by seeking a “military lawyer near me” as soon as possible. He or she will explain your risks while devising a case strategy that follows governing laws.

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What do military lawyers do?

Military lawyers perform a variety of functions and tasks daily. At times, their role is as broad or as narrow as a civilian lawyer. They handle administrative matters and provide legal advice on civil issues. However, they primarily focus on military justice and criminal cases.

Military lawyers offer the following services:

  • Providing legal advice to military clients
  • Navigating the terms of legal discipline
  • Drafting and filing court-required documents
  • Drafting and preparing official military guides
  • Preparing and questioning a client before trial
  • Advising high-level military personnel on law
  • Offering court-martial counsel and services

Agile and adept lawyers possess a strong command of all criminal and civil laws and military and civilian law. They generally work in high-pressure situations while maintaining a steady temperament. Simply put, a military lawyer handles client cases from start to finish across a wide range of practice areas.

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Military Lawyer vs. Civilian Lawyer

The military follows a different set of laws than civilians do. As such, a military lawyer must have a different skillset from civilian lawyers.

For example, military personnel can violate court-martial laws without incurring a civil infraction. A military lawyer must know how to bring justice in military courts.

These are a few other differences in a military lawyer vs. a civilian lawyer:

Difference #1: They follow different rules

Military lawyers must follow UCMJ. They will follow this body of code as it governs military processes and procedures.

Laws that apply to military cases include:

  • Article 15
  • Article 32
  • AWOL laws
  • Don’t ask, don’t tell

Difference #2: Military lawyer JAG Corp involvement

Instead of hiring a public defender or private counsel, defendants hire military lawyer JAG officers. They are members of the military who provide services as lawyers for service members.

Difference #3: They receive different training

Military lawyers receive additional training beyond graduating from an accredited law school and passing a state bar exam. They receive specialized training through military lawyer JAG Corps. It is from here that they learn how to navigate military proceedings.

Difference #4: Appeals follow various procedures

Each branch of the military has specific sets of procedures for appeals. They can take a mandatory amount of time or follow a specific line of command. In some cases, there is no way to hasten the appeals process, unlike a civilian appeal.

Difference #5: Juries are chosen and adjudicated differently

In contrast to civilian matters, juries can comprise of three to twelve members. The number of jurors depends upon the type of case. They also make decisions by a two-thirds majority vote, which is also different from civilian cases.

As you can see, there are several differences between a military lawyer vs. civilian lawyer. If you are a service member facing military proceedings, it is essential that you get legal advice from a military lawyer. He or she will provide you with guidance throughout the entire process.

Here is another article on the differences between a military lawyer vs. civilian lawyer.


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Hiring a military lawyer

When facing court-martial or discipline, you have the right to receive representation by a military lawyer. It would help if you had a military lawyer JAG defensive counsel that can investigate your case's facts and circumstances to ensure that you do not accept an unnecessary punishment.

Hiring a military lawyer provides the following benefits:

  • Benefit #1: Your military lawyer will conduct an independent investigation of the facts and preserve all discoverable evidence.
  • Benefit #2: You will receive a chance to prepare your case for pre-trial with an experienced legal professional.
  • Benefit #3: Ongoing counsel and advice are available throughout the entire process.
  • Benefit #4: Your military lawyer will explain your rights and options that act on your consent.
  • Benefit #5: You may feel less overwhelmed and better-represented in court.

Make sure that you hire a lawyer that is proper for your case and jurisdiction. For example, if you live in South Africa, you should hire a military lawyer in South Africa. In the same turn, if you live in the Philippines, hire a military lawyer in Philippines.

Disability lawyers do not have the same experiences as military lawyers, which means that it is critical to distinguish in your hiring process. Go with the person best suited to handle your case.

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