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Shaw Airmen weigh scales of justice

The 20th Fighter Wing (FW) legal office Airmen ensure the base runs with good order and discipline, and they help dependents, retirees and Airmen get the legal support needed to focus on the mission.

The 20th Fighter Wing (FW) legal office Airmen ensure the base runs with good order and discipline, and they help dependents, retirees and Airmen get the legal support needed to focus on the mission. The 20th FW judge advocates and paralegals provide counsel for legal issues, wills and military justice matters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Cortland Bobczynski, 20th Fighter Wing legal office chief of administrative law, performs legal duties at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 17, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Cortland Bobczynski, 20th Fighter Wing legal office chief of administrative law, performs legal duties at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 17, 2018. The law office, made up of judge advocates and paralegals, is divided into four sections: civil law, adverse actions, military justice and operational law. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin Spear, 20th Fighter Wing legal office noncommissioned officer in charge of administrative law, adjusts personal legal files at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 17, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin Spear, 20th Fighter Wing legal office noncommissioned officer in charge of administrative law, adjusts personal legal files at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 17, 2018. Paralegals support the legal office’s judge advocates by performing duties such as tracking down witnesses, printing documents for cases, powers of attorney duties and demotions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- A small group of skilled Airmen spend numerous hours pouring over the paperwork necessary to protect justice for every Team Shaw member.

These Airmen, assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing (FW) Legal office, ensure the well-being and stability of Team Shaw service members, spouses and retirees by providing counsel for legal issues such as wills, military justice matters and providing answers and advice for many other legal questions.

“We’re there to, first and foremost, make sure things are running well with good order and discipline, but also making sure that our commanders are taking action, they are doing it within the regulations in accordance with statute and every action is being done in accordance with our standing rules and regulations,” said Capt. Cortland Bobczynski, 20th FW Legal office chief of administrative law. “We’re also here to help dependents, retirees and Airmen get the legal support they need so they can focus on the mission rather than different types of legal issues they could run into.”

The law office is divided into four sections: civil law, adverse actions, military justice and operational law. Each section has judge advocates and paralegals assigned to it.

“When first sergeants, commanders, Airmen, dependents, or retirees come in, they’re going to be seeing the paralegals first,” Bobczynski said. “A lot of the customers are dealing with some awful, heart-wrenching situations, so to see a friendly face up at the front, ready to assist and get them with a JA in order to provide them with the legal assistance that they need, really can do a lot for them.”

With cases lasting anywhere from a few months to a couple of years, the work paralegals do to support JAs, such as tracking down witnesses or printing documents for cases, helps JAs focus more on the legalities and litigation portions of each case.

“We keep the paralegals really busy. Without them, we wouldn’t be supported and we wouldn’t be able to reach out as far as we do,” 
Bobczynski said.

Bobczynski went on to say how the 20th FW Legal office’s mission is “excellence in all we do” and how the JAs and paralegals strive to achieve this by providing good order and discipline for the base.

“Discipline comes from commanders and we provide them with the necessary tools to keep the Air Force organized,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Spear, 20th Fighter Wing Legal office noncommissioned officer in charge of administrative law. “That is what enables us as a whole to accomplish the mission.”