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ADAB Legal Office Puts Focus on Mission

  • Published
  • By MSgt Dan Heaton
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing

Al Dhafra Air Base personnel have saved more than $47,000 in 2021 utilizing the legal services available to them from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing’s Judge Advocate office.

Staffed by a team of two military lawyers and one paralegal specialist, the office provides wills, powers of attorney, notary services and other support to the base’s Airmen and other service personnel.

“I can’t tell you the relief I see in the eyes of an Airman when they are struggling with an issue back home and we are able to provide assistance to them,” said Capt. Bo Murphy, who, along with Lt. Col. Aimee Haney, serves as a Judge Advocate lawyer with the wing. Tech. Sgt. Nerissa Williams serves as the team’s paralegal specialist.

“My main job,” Williams explains from her office on the second floor of the wing headquarters building, “is to act as the first line of support. A person comes in here and many times they don’t really know exactly what they need or who can best help them.

“I try to sit them down, ask a few questions and then direct them. Younger Airmen might be going through an issue for the first time – child custody, divorce, buying or selling a house. Many of the Airmen who deployed here came on a short-notice deployment and they may not have had time to deal with all this back home,” Williams said.

Williams, a native of Florida, has been in the Air Force for 17 years and has served in legal offices her entire career.

“Over the course of my career, I’ve encountered most issues that are likely to come up in a wing. A lot of times, if I can just sit and talk with an Airman for a few minutes, I can point them in the right direction, saving them a lot of time and stress,” Williams said.

While providing service to Airmen is a major component of the legal office’s responsibility, the team also provides “sound expert and full-spectrum legal advice to commanders, at the speed of relevance,” Murphy said.

The JA office supports the wing commander by providing legal advice on topics ranging from discipline issues to contracting issues. Murphy said operating in a deployed environment can add levels of complexity to issues, requiring varying levels of legal interpretation.

With recent changes in the threat posed by the COVID-19 virus, the JA attorneys are one of several wing offices providing input to the commander on implementing Health Protection Condition (HPCON) directives.

“We are working issues every day, supporting the commander, supporting the Airmen. It all contributes to the overall wing mission,” Murphy said.