Story by William King on 08/23/2019HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Civilian and military attorneys from across the U.S. Army Materiel Command enterprise gathered Aug. 20-22 in Huntsville for a program of training, education and networking.
The biennial Continuing Legal Education Program provides tailored training opportunities for AMC's attorney workforce of over 300 civilian attorneys and 50 military judge advocates serving worldwide. Topics discussed included ethics for DoD employees, contracting and current issues in intellectual property, environmental law, fiscal law and cyber, among others.
"For an attorney, just like in any profession, it's important on several levels to stay up to date on changes to the law and recent trends that impact the attorney's area of expertise. The Continuing Legal Education Program is important because it allows us to focus the training on helping AMC accomplish our mission," said Brian Toland, AMC command counsel.
He noted that all Army attorneys are required to be licensed in a state, and many states require continuing legal training for attorneys to maintain their license. "We like to provide that tailored training so that not only do they get the credits to maintain their license, but also the training is beneficial to the work they do on a daily basis to support Army priorities," said Toland.
About 200 attendees and 50 speakers participated in the three-day program, making it the largest AMC Continuing Legal Education Program to date. "It's great to get together because we can interact with our colleagues from different locations and share ideas and best practices," said Toland.
Toland said attorneys enable readiness by providing commanders and senior leaders with the legal options, support and recommendations they need to make decisions. He said it is helpful for attorneys to hear directly from senior leaders about their priorities and how the legal community can best support them in accomplishing the mission.
Gen. Gus Perna, Army Materiel Command commanding general, spoke to attendees about the scope of AMC's mission and the importance of everyone understanding their role in accomplishing the mission for the Army. "Your technical expertise is what we need to get our mission done. At the end of the day, you are just as responsible for what we do on any given day to make sure that our Soldiers in harm's way are taken care of, or that we are preventing war," said Perna.
Lt. Gen. Charles Pede, the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General, emphasized to attendees the need for expert and versatile attorneys who deliver principled counsel and have a mastery of the law. "Principled lawyering is important. When your legal advice is coming from your heart and your studied application of the law, it matters," he said.
Pede said it is important what lawyers think and talk about among themselves and with leaders, and encouraged lifelong learning, especially residential learning, as a way to underwrite the physical learning experience. "I encourage each and every one of you to think about how you challenge yourself every day to be a little bit better, to be a little bit sharper, to keep the rust off, to avoid complacency and avoid ruts," he said.
One of the attorneys attending the Continuing Legal Education Program was Nancy Waldron, an attorney-advisor at U.S. Army Security Assistance Command at Redstone Arsenal. She said she greatly benefited by hearing directly from senior leaders, getting updates about different areas of law, and in the interaction with other attorneys from across the AMC enterprise.
"Hearing from the subject matter experts in labor law the new developments, the practice tips, those are things that I will everyday apply to my practice," said Waldron.