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Cleaning Up After Somebody Else’s Sh*t for Military Justice Part 1

I am a mom. Of four amazing kiddos. Thus, I have been wiping other people’s butts since 2007. Thankfully, that ended a few years back (when my youngest became potty independent). At least in the literal sense.

When I inherit a case from another attorney, whether it was the uniformed legal assistance attorney, a newly minted defense services lawyer, or a civilian practitioner who sold a bill of goods to the client about how great they would be, it is seldom fun. Cleaning up after somebody else’s sh*t is never fun.

[P.S. Thanks to whomever left piles of diarrhea in and around the toilet in the lav on my Frontier Flight from Orlando to Newburgh, New York for this inspiration. And yes, I cleaned up after him too. Nobody needed to see what he did in that bathroom, and so many more were going to unless I took corrective action. And no way I was having anyone who came after me think that I had been the “caca culprit.” Thank heaven for hand sanitizing wipes. A lot of them.]

I get hired for responses to reprimands. I enjoy the work, and my efforts often make a difference. Sometimes the reprimand clients don’t come to me until after their reprimand was filed officially and are staring down potential elimination from the service. When I review their rebuttal to the foundational reprimand, I usually cringe. And I am not being hyper critical of syntax or diction. Many attorneys fail the client by telling them “the commanding general does not want to read a bunch of excuses. He wants you to take responsibility for what you did, and it really should not go over more than a page or two at most.”

Cookie cutter legal advice is the first kind of sh*t that I detest cleaning up after.

That advice about taking responsibility and not making excuses *might* be passable if the person committed the offense or offenses. But what if they did not? And what if they committed one breach but not all five others listed on the reprimand. Those clients have received the same “one size fits all” advice, and worse, many if not followed it. They were relying on what their “lawyer” told them to do.

There is a way to accept responsibility for some piece of what occurred without admitting to behavior that the person never committed. Nuance is key.

When I inherit these cases and become hired to defend the “firing” action, our strategy has to now include an explanation for concessions and sometimes confessional type reprimand “rebuttals.” And you had better believe we throw the prior counsel under the bus. That attorney just became part of the narrative for having given deficient advice.

Not all cases are the same, and I have long written about how I will not personally practice law on too large a scale – every client deserves my best. Cookie cutter legal advice is not okay, and it may even be worse than trying to do too much. It means that the person does not care. How could they? Ensure you find an attorney that will connect with your matter and will put forth individual attention at every stage.

 

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