New Air Force Legal Assistance Website|
Posted 11/9/2010 Updated 11/9/2010
by Capt Scott Hodges
Air Force Judge Advocate General's School
11/9/2010 - Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama -- Have a personal legal assistance question? Need a will or power of attorney? The new Air Force Legal Assistance Website (https://aflegalassistance.law.af.mil) may be the resource for you.
The site's features include:
- Legal Topics: Short papers on common legal assistance topics such as wills and family law issues. It also contains links to other helpful sites.
- Legal Worksheets: Access to online questionnaires for wills, advance medical directives, and powers of attorney.
- Online Survey: Following a visit to the legal office, clients are encouraged to provide feedback concerning the professionalism and helpfulness of our legal professionals.
If you need a will, the website will help you obtain one quickly. Eligible legal assistance beneficiaries can complete the will worksheet online. In return, they will receive a ticket number. Make an appointment with your local Air Force legal office for a legal assistance appointment and notify the receptionist about your ticket number. Your information will be retrieved from the secure website and you will be able to review your legal documents during your legal assistance appointment.
Getting a power of attorney is also quicker. Simply fill out the power of attorney application on-line and receive your ticket number. Take the ticket number to your local legal office and have your power of attorney pulled up and printed for your signature.
This new website, which has only been in use since February 2010, has already had more than 30,000 visitors. "Our office has processed over 750 ticket numbers since we began using the website in February. Our paralegals have found that the website has increased the speed of our power of attorney service," said Col Michael Welsh, Staff Judge Advocate, 31 FW/JA, Aviano AB, Italy.
Because it is a public site, clients may access the site's features from the comfort of their homes without a CAC.
Many clients have visited a legal office to obtain a will or other legal document, and realize after arriving that they need to gather more information or documents from home, or need to discuss an issue with their spouse. Completing an online worksheet will help minimize these multiple visits. By filling out an online worksheet, clients are able to consider critical issues online prior to visiting the legal office. After receiving a ticket number, clients may take their ticket number to the legal office where an attorney or paralegal will access the client's data. This will reduce the amount of information the client needs to bring, and allow the legal office to streamline the process to some degree. Maj Jennifer Maceda, Acting Staff Judge Advocate, Hickam AFB, Hawaii, stated "Since we began using the website in February, we've processed almost 600 ticket numbers. Clients really seem to appreciate the opportunity to work on a power of attorney or will from home or work to reduce wait time at the legal office."
While the website increases convenience for clients, everyone should note the following:
- The site is designed for eligible legal assistance beneficiaries, including active duty and reserve component members, retirees, and dependents.
- Information on the website is for educational and informational purposes only. The website cannot replace consultation with your local JAG, and Airmen should never rely solely on the website when making decisions.
- According to The Judge Advocate General, Lt Gen Richard C. Harding, "The website is not intended to replace face-to-face meetings in the Airmen's servicing legal office between Airmen and legal professionals, nor is it intended to generate wills and powers of attorney at home. Those important legal documents and legal assistance appointments are still available to Airmen and their families in their base legal office."
- Clients will not have the ability to print a legal document (will, power of attorney, etc.) from the website. Clients will need to visit the legal office and provide their ticket numbers to obtain their legal documents.
- The website is designed for client convenience, but no one is required to use the website prior to visiting the legal office.
Lt Gen Richard C. Harding summed up the Corps' efforts. "Many of our clients use the Internet to take care of personal and financial matters already. Knowing that, we created a website that would provide access to legal assistance information and provide worksheets necessary to obtain legal forms, like powers of attorney and wills, in the base legal office. The website is an important supplement to Airmen's legal assistance benefits and a time-saver for the Airmen and their families. I encourage military members, dependants, and retirees to try this new website before visiting their base legal offices."