A paralegal specialist is a distinct title given to a paralegal that is employed by the federal government. In particular, paralegal specialist careers are most often present in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Paralegal specialist jobs in the U.S. Armed Forces are vital to the legal system of each military branch. Under the supervision of military attorneys, unit commanders, and judges, paralegal specialists may be involved in everything from military justice and operations law to civil law and claims.
Job Description for Paralegal Specialists
Paralegal specialists are often called upon to conduct legal research, process cases and legal documents, draft opinions and documents, maintain the law library, and interview witnesses. Paralegal specialist jobs include providing support in any number of areas, including family law, contract law, fiscal law, criminal law, administrative law, operational law, and international law.
Other job duties within the paralegal specialist job description may include:
- Providing support to unit commanders, lawyers and judges
- Providing documents for non-judicial punishments and courts-martial
- Preparing line of duty determinations and separation board proceedings
- Providing services for family law, including powers of attorney, wills and separation decrees
- Conducting research on judicial and administrative rulings, determinations, opinions and decisions
How to Become a Paralegal Specialist: Education and Training Requirements
Unlike civilian paralegals, paralegal specialists are not required to have a college education or complete a paralegal program outside of the military for paralegal specialist careers. Instead, they must meet the same criteria as any other person entering the Armed Forces, which includes being at least 18 years of age and being a U.S. citizen.
Paralegal specialists must have no court-martial convictions or disciplinary actions on record. They must have no record of any civil conviction (with the exception of minor traffic offenses), and they must have no record of lost time.
Paralegal specialists must also complete basic combat training, as well as 10 weeks of Advanced Individual Training (AIT), which includes attending a legal specialist program.
AIT for paralegal specialists focuses on the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), or military law. UCMJ includes trial rules, offenses, and punishments within the military system. This program also familiarizes students with Article 15 forms, military correspondence and court martial charge sheets and teaches them how to draft these forms. Upon completion of AIT, students are expected to pass specific proficiency tests before they can become paralegal specialists.
Salary Statistics for Paralegal Specialists
Although there are no statistics regarding paralegal specialists, a number of job listings for paralegal specialists within the Department of the Army show the salary range to be between $53,500 and $69,545. Similarly, the National Association of Legal Assistants, through their 2010 National Utilization and Compensation Survey Report, reported that the national average salary for a paralegal was $52,188.
Resources for Paralegal Specialists
- U.S. Marine Corps
- United States Air Force
- America’s Navy
- United States Coast Guard