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NEWS | Sept. 19, 2023

Paralegal Warrior Training – Bridging the gap

U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command

This year on July 17, paralegals (27D) from the United States Army Reserve (USAR) and Army National Guard (ARNG) participated in a two-week Paralegal Warrior Training Course (PWTC) to refresh their skillsets with a focus on regulations and policies centered on USAR and ARNG servicemembers, concluding with a field training exercise on July 27.

Paralegals are the backbone of the legal system. They play a crucial role in the legal process, working behind the scenes to ensure cases are prepared meticulously and provide guidance to support judge advocates and their clients. A successful paralegal not only stays updated on new legal precedents and law, but also possesses excellent organizational and problem-solving skills to navigate the complex legal landscape.

Command Sgt. Maj. Elizabeth Kissee, 304th Sustainment Brigade Command sergeant major, led over 75 paralegals across the Army as this year’s PWTC Commandant. She selected, trained, and developed its student leaders. Participants across the states gathered in Fort McCoy, Wis. and were divided into two cohorts: a cohort of Soldiers ranked from Private to Specialist, and an advanced track for noncommissioned officers (NCO). Kissee broke down the course content: “This course covered 50 hours of classroom instruction (Junior and Senior level courses), 40 hours of field training that tested Basic Soldier Skills, ACFT, eight hours of simulation training (land navigation and convoy operations), and daily mentorship. This is a premier USAR training for all paralegals, planned and conducted by some of the best NCOs in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps.”

The basic course reinforced topics in various disciplines from Advanced Individual Training (AIT) such as legal assistance, military justice, fiscal law, and administrative law. Specific to this PWTC were additional modules on ARNG and USAR regulations and policies. The advanced course focused on preparing attendees for future leadership developmental courses at The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School. Track topics included servant leadership, the military decision-making process, building cohesive teams, and developing a leadership philosophy.

In addition to the scheduled programming, a valuable component of the training was the sharing of wisdom and knowledge from Senior JAG Corps officers to new paralegals across the Army. Senior paralegals from the United States Army Reserve Legal Command and the 88th Readiness Division discussed career opportunities within the JAG Corps – such as court reporting and the steps to becoming a legal administrator – and paralegal opportunities in the civilian sector.

The Field Training Exercise (FTX) at the end of the course consisted of scenario-based legal injects regarding law of war and rules of engagement violations, while performing troop leading procedures of skill level one tasks. “The FTX component allowed Soldiers to apply critical thinking and the knowledge acquired in the classroom to tackle legal scenarios…real-world training ensures they return better equipped to serve effectively at their home stations,” said Staff Sgt. Marshon Malone, a cadre member from the 22d Legal Operations Detachment (LOD).

Brig. Gen. Ronald Sullivan, Chief Judge for the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals (Individual Mobilization Augmentee), hosted the PWTC graduation and presented Staff Sgt. Melissa Haley, a paralegal NCO of the 154th LOD, the Distinguished Leader award for her demonstrated leadership that made her stand out from her peers. Sullivan also thanked the Soldiers for volunteering their time to sharpen their skills and expand their JAG networks.

“No other course offers the same level of knowledge and training regarding what is going on in the USAR and ARNG to prepare paralegals for success and invest in the continuation of a developmental and successful path,” said Kissee. PWTC is available for all Soldiers across the Army and is held annually in the month of July. Contact your training NCO and chain of command for more information on registering next year.