Outreach to Military Attorneys


Outreach to Military Attorneys
A Message from the Chair of the FBA Military Task Force, Jim Richardson

At one time there was a considerable military presence in the Federal Bar Association. Any number of attorneys with close military connections have served as national officers. Most notably, Colonel Will Kenny was an active duty Judge Advocate in the Air Force during his term as national president. Other national presidents have included Gerry Gilbert (RAdm. USNR JAGC) Joe Ross (Capt .USNR JAGC) and Marvin Morse (Col. USAFR) and Tom Lilley (RAdm. USNR). Of course our current president, Bob DeSousa is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Pennsylvania National Guard. One of our serving Fifth Circuit Vice Presidents, Todd Hedgepeth, is a retired Lt.Col. in the Air Force. One of the strongest and most active members is Bill Suter who retired as Acting Judge Advocate General of the Army prior to becoming Clerk of the Supreme Court.

Table: Active Military Bases Near FBA Chapters

As Bob DeSousa has observed, "The FBA is the natural home for Judge Advocates and Department of Defense attorneys." We share the same goals, issues and occasionally overlapping cases. Additionally the FBA can provide military attorneys a national network of contacts as they transfer from installation to installation or prepare to leave active military service.

As he became president Bob DeSousa created a commit to reclaim our military judge advocates as members. At present, the majority of military membership is concentrated in the Pentagon Chapter with its focus on issues surrounding the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and in the Veterans and Military Law Section.

However there are many chapters which are in close proximity to military installations around the country. These installations can be a source of new members and can offer programing to local chapters. The commanders and staff judge advocates at these installations share many of the same issues facing your local government and legal community. In many aspects the commanding officer of a military base or a large unit has responsibilities similar to the mayor of a large city. In the case of a large installation (e.g., Ft. Hood, TX or Naval Station San Diego, CA) his/her responsibilities are not unlike those of a governor of a state. Similarly the staff judge advocate (or senior legal officer) has duties which correspond to a state’s attorney general or the city attorney. There are logistics and contracts issues, personnel and labor law problems, environmental matters arising under the Federal Facilities Compliance Act (FFCA), as more well-known issues in military justice (i.e., criminal law).

As part of our outreach to military attorneys, my co-chair, Col. Mitch Neurock, has compiled a table of our existing chapters which are in close proximity to military installations. That table can be found here. We strongly urge you to reach out to the judge advocates of those installations (as well as other staff officers (e.g. the facilities office, the contract office) etc. and invite them your programs as either guests or speakers as appropriate. We also suggest as a recruiting tool, that you consider setting a special rate for military attorneys for programs which are fee based.

Note: The table omits those installations in the Greater D.C. area which would be coordinated with the Pentagon, District of Columbia, Capitol Hill and Northern Virginia chapters.

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