AF seeks sharp Airmen for paralegal career field

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Mary Davis
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Who says there's no justice in this world? In fact, there's justice for all who are interested in cross training into the paralegal career field. 

For Master Sgt. Katherine Johnson, retraining as a paralegal was the start of a new chapter of her Air Force career. 

"I was halfway through my career and was looking for a change," said the former supply technician from Keokuk, Iowa. "I liked the investigative side of military justice and claims, and I thought it would provide a new challenge for me." 

One of the most rewarding parts of her job as the law office superintendent at Vance is her involvement in programs that directly help the entire base, she said. 

"You work closely with first sergeants and supervisors in the military justice arena and advise them on various processes involving Article 15s, administrative discharges and courts-martial," Sergeant Johnson said. "You may also have the opportunity to help mobility members obtain legal assistance, including notary, powers of attorney and claims." 

Paralegals support several areas including military justice, civil law, claims, contracts, legal assistance and the victim witness assistance program. They may also be certified by the American Bar Association after completing their Community College of the Air Force degrees and seven-level upgrade training requirements, including attendance to the paralegal craftsman course taught at the Air Force Judge Advocate General School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. 

Tech. Sgt. Laura Rosenzweig retrained into the paralegal career field in August 2005, and loved the opportunities within the career field. 

"I've had the chance to work in several areas," said Sergeant Rosenzweig, the 2007 recipient of the19th Air Force Swigonski Award for paralegal excellence. "I'm currently working in military justice, but I also assist with interviewing witnesses and coordinating with on- and off-base agencies regarding on-going investigations." 

She also works in civil law, where she researches various issues and writes legal reviews. 

"Paralegals can also apply for special duty as an enlisted court reporter, which I might look into someday," said Sergeant Rosensweig, a native of Shamokin, Penn. "This is a very exciting career field with the ability to do something new everyday." 

Burning the midnight oil in preparation for trials or other tasks including traveling witnesses, post-trial paperwork and witness interviews is not uncommon. In fact, paralegals may have two or three cases they are working on simultaneously, so prioritization is a must, Sergeant Johnson said. 

Even downrange, paralegals provide some of the same services people receive at home station - legal assistance, wills, powers of attorney, claims, etc. 

"One difference for deployed paralegals is working in a joint environment, detainee operations and untraditional roles as Air Force paralegals," Sergeant Johnson added. 

"Master Sergeant Johnson and Technical Sergeant Rosenzweig are without doubt great examples of the caliber of paralegals we have in the Corps. It's Airmen like these that we need in the paralegal career field," said Maj. Robert Rushakoff, 71st Flying Training Wing Staff Judge Advocate. "Air Force paralegals are a vital part of any legal office and provide critical service to both service members and commanders. I simply cannot do my job without great paralegals like the ones I have working for me today." 

Interested Airmen can stop by and talk to Sergeants Johnson and Rosenzweig about the paralegal career field.