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News | Dec. 9, 2014

Navy Legalmen Hone Skills in Two-Part Program

By Senior Chief Legalman Margaret Bagley and Senior Chief Legalman Brook Larkins, Naval Justice School

On Sept. 12, 2014, 16 legalmen from duty stations around the world graduated from the Mid-Level Legalman Course held at Naval Justice School Detachment San Diego.  This week-long course was the second part of the newly revamped two-part training program, comprised of an online portion and an in-resident portion, aimed at mid-level leaders serving in a supervisory position or in their second tour as a legalman.  

Before attending the in-resident portion of the course, students participated in an intense five-week online course.  Students were tasked to read and interpret instructions and regulations, participate in online group discussions, and prepare various legal documents.  The students used a case study that was also incorporated in the in-resident portion of the course to complete much of the online work.  Online discussions challenged the legalmen to critically think about and refine their leadership styles.

Legalman 2nd Class Christopher M. Petrill enjoyed the blended environment with online and in-person training.  “The first module was rigorous and required independent study.  The second, classroom-based portion built upon the first in an interactive environment, fostering discussion and culminating in tremendous knowledge acquisition by all students.”

The in-resident portion of the class tackled leadership issues and advanced legalman skills in a group setting.  The capstone for the course was a mock administrative board which paired students who had more experience with administrative separation boards with the less experienced students to serve as recorders.  The students acted as recorders at the board with three senior legalmen from the Southwest region acting as members.  Those senior legalmen also provided effective and thoughtful feedback to each group of students.  The legalmen also participated in an enlisted evaluation ranking board where they were given five different evaluations to rank; they then briefed the class on their final outcome.

Legalman 1st Class Tara Harris valued the mock ranking board, stating, “It is especially helpful for Sailors who have not written evals before.  I loved the ranking board because it is very helpful to see how the board works and to get into the mentality of fighting for your Sailors amongst your peers.”

The new curriculum received rave reviews from students.  Legalman 1st Class Tanya Belna explained the role of the course in the legalman career.  “No matter where you are at in your LN career, [this course] serves as a refresher from topics we learned from NJS and also introduces concepts as we progress into a supervisor role.  Both courses were very challenging yet rewarding.  The best part is that I can take what I have learned back to the fleet and implement and build upon the new concepts.”

Naval Justice School intends to offer the online and in-resident portion of the Mid-Level course twice a year.  Specific areas of instruction for the course include complex military justice scenarios covering freedom of expression, search and seizure, Freedom of Information Act, and administrative investigations.  The next online class starts on January 12, 2015.  Contact your command’s Professional Development Officer for registration information.

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