Legal team: Defends in more ways than one

By Airman 1st Class Jessica Blair | Dec. 21, 2017

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.- —

From the walls adorned with walnut-stained plaques, to the high shelves lined with volumes of legal tomes, their years of experience and expertise are evident.

Each Air Force base is like a small and self-reliant city, complete with a courtroom and knowledgeable team of lawyers. It’s these easily accessible resources that allow the base legal team to deliver the finest legal counsel to leaders and military members.

The 87th Air Base Wing legal office provides civil law legal assistance and offers a wide range of additional services including wills, landlord and tenant issues, divorces, and personal injury law to the Joint Base MDL community.

The Judge Advocate General's Corps has two main offices: Area Defense Council, which provides free counsel and criminal defense in military court, and the base legal office, which advises base leaders on command issues and operational law. Both advocate for service members.

“We help maintain good order and discipline,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Rolando Gudiel, chief of administrative law and recruiting. “We help determine the boundaries of right and wrong and the proper behavior, and we are also the voice of our Airmen when they deal with the outside world, so if they are getting taken advantage of in a legal sense we will pick up the phone and stand up for them if need be.”

The diverse joint service environment makes this base’s legal office unique because they provide their legal assistance and range of diverse services, to dependents, active Reserve, guard and retirees of all branches.

“We save our Airmen lots of money in legal fees,” said Gudiel. “The services we offer are very expensive on the outside. Lawyers charge for their time and just for speaking to them. Every quarter, our office saves the base clients thousands of dollars because of the documents and hours that we provide.”

Their website is equally convenient, providing resources that aim to save clients and legal team member’s time at each appointment by allowing those in search of legal assistance to input information ahead of time.

Because of the varied circumstances they are presented with each day, they continually strive to deliver first-class and full-spectrum legal capabilities to the MDL community, said Master Sgt. Lascelle Lawrence, 87th ABW Judge Advocate and law office superintendent.

“When people come into our office, a lot of them are at the lowest points of their life,” said Gudiel. “They’re dealing with lots of different stressors and they feel like no one else will help them, so when they come to us we do our absolute best. There’s no better feeling than being able to get them out of a jam and at least bring them some hope and relief.”

The base legal office can be reached at (609) 754-2010 or for more information including hours and services visit their website at www.jointbasemdl.af.mil/Home/JB-MDL-Legal-Office/.