To be professional does not mean that we shed our value of providing an unapologetic defense. To be professional means that we ensure our words of advocacy will be heard, respected, and followed. Being professional ensures that we will perform our job at the highest possible level.
There is this noticeable shift in the room when one of our Firm’s dedicated professionals becomes recognized as the subject matter expert, and one who can be trusted. At times, before that shift if we are among panel members or board members with whom we have not previously worked, there can be a subtle level of skepticism. Any skeptics are quickly reassured.
Professional means that we strive to be and are fully knowledgeable about our job. This means the rules, the procedure, and the climate.
At times, civilian practitioners who have never served in uniform attempt to represent military members in military proceedings. Though never having served is not a bar to representing military service men and women, there often is a lack of understanding or appreciation of the climate that is a vital component to be successful in these proceedings. Part of being professional in a military environment is an appreciation of how to address people according to customs and courtesies and meeting them where they are in terms of education, skills, and experience. If you have never walked the walk, there is at minimum an uphill battle to talk the talk. It is a lived experience unlike any other.
As one of the Firm’s core values, professionalism is more than appearance and more than studying. Professionalism includes a sense of duty and honor that the military decision makers recognize and value our mirroring.
Attorneys and paralegals who are professional in a military justice and military administrative matters convey their attention to this detail in written correspondence, in phone dialogue, and in verbal and written advocacy. Professionalism is a touchstone, without which our message could be lost. Our dedication to serving military members requires us to always remember the way we carry ourselves, the way we present, and the way we advocate on behalf of our clients.