No matter how esteemed our reputation, make no mistake that we are UNAPOLOGETIC in our relentless pursuit of the best result for each client and each cause. We do not fear repercussion either to ourselves or to any future career path because we are completely independent. We serve our clients. A critical and vital component to being completely unapologetic is our severed ties with military service. We are civilians. Proud veterans, but we are independent.
In a culture where customs and courtesies of rank control, you need someone who will not be afraid of making waves. Someone who is not worried about their next promotion or officer evaluation report. You need someone who will defend you and not apologize for making waves and upsetting the command. We are that someone, and we will never apologize for doing what we do best, defending our clients.
Typically, the detailed military defense counsel is an O-3 who will eventually move on to a different job in the JAG Corps with hopes of being promoted above her/his peers. Eventually, in their role as defense counsel, that Judge Advocate (military lawyer) will be confronted with an uncomfortable situation . . . to push back against a particular commander (possibly burning a bridge) or to play it safe. Perhaps this JAG picks the middle of the road and only pushes back a little (dials it back), so she/he could say that they tried and save face. The reality is that a client should not have to worry about whether their defense counsel will make the (harder for some) right choice or wonder if they dialed it back for personal reasons. A client deserves to be zealously represented. No matter what.
There is also the matter of potential concern to uniformed counsel who may ask themselves “what will the Panel or Judge think of me [this O-3] pushing back?” If they do push back, the O-3 must be cognizant of how the panel (jury) will perceive them . . . insubordinate or out-of-line, simply because of their rank. Once, after a trial, I had a military judge tell me that my questions to an O-5 were excellent but that I needed to be careful of my tone because the jury may think I was being rude simply because I was only an O-3. I have never seen this addressed to any civilian practitioner.
As a Civilian Defense Counsel, we are never confronted with the choice to zealously defend our client or worry about our next promotion within the organization. We are free from those constraints, and it can only benefit our clients. We are not part of the same organization, and we do not have a rank. We are the professionals in the room, untethered and free to be unrestrained by matters of promotion or the next position. We can ask hard questions without being perceived as insubordinate. This is important because our clients deserve zealous and professional legal representation.
We do not have to, and we will not, apologize because our duty is to represent all service members zealouslyand unapologetically.