Much like their civilian counterparts, paralegals in the Air Force assist trained attorneys (known in the Air Force as Judge Advocate Generals) prepare legal cases. In some instances, they help prep for court-martial proceedings by preparing documents and researching case law, and also assist their fellow airmen with preparing legal documents.
The Air Force categorizes this job as Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) 5J0X1.
Duties of Air Force Paralegals
Air Force paralegals function primarily as assistants to the JAG officers, much as a civilian paralegal helps an attorney. They have a wide scope of legal duties, performing research as needed, preparing claims and assessing legal filings.
The paralegal is often the first point of contact an Air Force member has with the JAG office. The paralegal will interview potential clients and determine whether he or she is eligible for legal assistance, consult with the client to compile facts and background information, and prepare documents such as briefs for courtroom proceedings and other legal review procedures.
And just like paralegals in civilian law firms, Air Force paralegals prepare an array of legal documents, such as wills, powers of attorney, promissory notes, deeds and bills of sale for the Air Force and qualified Air Force personnel. An Air Force paralegal also can perform duties as a notary public.
Qualifying for AFSC 5J0X1 Paralegal
Airmen in this job should have knowledge of administrative law matters, and be able to communicate clearly and effectively in writing. You'll need a high school diploma or its equivalent, with some college coursework highly recommended.
A recruit for this job must have a record free of any previous convictions by court-martial, and should have no civilian court convictions (with the exception of minor traffic infractions).
You have to be certified by the Wing Law Office Superintendent Staff Judge Advocate.
Air Force paralegals need a score of 51 in the general (G) qualification area of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests, which is a composite score based on the Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension and Arithmetic Reasoning sub-tests of the ASVAB.
There's no security clearance requirement from the Department of Defense for this role, but you'll undergo a screening of your financial background, and are expected to uphold principles of law such as client confidentiality while on the job.
Training as an Air Force Paralegal
After completing 7 1/2 weeks of basic training and Airman's Week, airmen in this job spend 35 days in technical training at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. You'll learn the protocols for conducting legal proceedings in military court, including how to prepare documents according to Air Force and Department of Defense regulations. You'll learn courtroom procedures and protocols, which may vary significantly from civilian courtrooms.
Civilian Equivalent of Air Force Paralegal
While your individual state may require additional licensing, you'll be trained as a paralegal and will be likely qualified to work in a variety of legal settings, including in a private law firm, for a public defender's office or a district attorney's office.