Legalmen protect Sailors by ensuring they are aware of their rights and by exploring every legal option available in their time of need. They are specialized paralegals, who complete tasks such as working with judge advocates, assisting with non-judicial punishments and providing other legal services to Sailors.
Legalman 3rd Class Dionesha Simmons has been aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) for three months and works with Sailors in need of legal assistance.
“Legalmen keep all the hard paperwork for the commanding officer prepared and ready,” said Simmons. “It’s nice to help people and know that you’re trusted enough to have people come and talk to you if they need any help.”
Legalmen provide help to Sailors by preparing legal forms, compiling legal research, conducting interviews and serving as military notary publics.
“The most interesting part of being a legalman is learning about military justice, and how to deal with a variety of situations we might come across in our line of work,” said Simmons.
Simmons’ shipmates push her every single day, and she values what they do for her and all Sailors aboard Ike.
“I appreciate my division,” said Simmons. “When I arrived, they made sure I had a smooth transition coming aboard. This is my first billet as a legalman, so it’s a little overwhelming but definitely worth all the hard work.”
The legalman rate isn’t available directly out of basic training, in part because it is the only enlisted rate in the Navy that requires Sailors to have a degree.
Chief Legalman Tara Harris spent seven years as a master-at-arms, and used her previous college experience to continue her career as a legalman. This unique background has provided Harris with an enhanced perspective on both the enforcement and administrative aspects of the law.
“Being a legalman is a lot more than I would have expected,” said Harris. “Most people think our job is all about dealing with people who are in trouble. Although that is a piece of what we do, it’s more about being there to help.”
Harris continues to teach her junior Sailors the correct way to handle difficult legal situations for their shipmates, their families and anyone closely related to an incident.
“That’s my biggest role in all this, training my reliefs, sharing my experiences with them and guiding them on how they are going to deal with the job,” said Harris.
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