It’s somewhat surprising that many Airmen are under the impression that entry into the Paralegal specialty (5J0X1) is only open to Airmen who have already qualified at the 5-skill level in another Air Force Specialty Code (or 3-skill if no 5-skill level is in place). What makes it particularly puzzling is that the announcement that new enlisted Airmen could enter directly into the Paralegal specialty came almost ten years ago.

But perhaps it isn’t so surprising after all. As stated on the Legal Staffing Website Law Crossing, “Paralegals are recruited into the Air Force, both from the pool of civilian professionals and from within by retraining Airmen.” That’s a slightly convoluted way of saying that enlistees entering the Paralegal field as their first specialty have probably either served already as Paralegals in the civilian legal system or have worked in a law office and are intimately familiar with the intricacies of the legal system.

Either way, Airmen who become Paralegals can expect excellent opportunities for employment when their time of service in the Air Force draws to a close. Because The Community College of the Air Force’s Paralegal degree has been certified by The American Bar Association, Airmen who earn it (and who also attend the paralegal Craftsman course, necessary for the 7-skill level upgrade) have the same credentials as civilians who’ve attended paralegal training at private institution.

Regardless of how Airmen enters the Paralegal field, they’ll all be attending the Paralegal Attendance Course, taught at The Judge Advocate General’s School, originally founded in 1950 but housed in the William Louis Dickinson Law Center at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama since 1993. Here, even those who’ve worked in law offices will be immersed in the foundational skills necessary to assist officers in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, such as general law, pretrial rules and procedures, ethics, administration, legal research, writing, and post-trail processes and claims.

In addition to performing myriad duties under the supervision of an attorney, Air Force Paralegal specialists also serve the role of law-office managers, and are tasked with resource management (including staffing), training of junior officers and new enlistees, managing recurring programs,
and carrying out fiscal oversight (including budget adjustments and execution).

Approved in 1994, the Paralegal badge features the scales of justice with a set of crossed quills between them. The image of scales as a means of weighing evidence has long been associated with judicial systems, and the quills are emblems of the work done by scribes or recorders, charged with keeping records in painstaking detail for posterity’s review.

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