What should I consider when selecting the right military defense attorney for me?
Experience is a primary factor to consider when selecting any attorney – especially a military defense attorney. It is very easy for an attorney to create a website and assert themselves as a military lawyer. It is prudent for any potential client to consider whether the military defense attorney they are considering has sufficient experience prosecuting and defending courts-martial. Additional experience may be in the form of having served as an investigating officer in an Article 32, Uniform Code of Military Justice, investigation or as a legal advisor for an administrative separation proceeding. Other experiences that may set one military defense attorney apart from others is experience serving as an advisor to military commanders, supervising and mentoring junior attorneys as a leader on a military legal staff, and teaching military justice. Mr. Berens has experience as a military prosecutor (trial counsel), defense counsel, military justice instructor, senior defense counsel, deputy staff judge advocate, and staff judge advocate. Mr. Berens has also deployed as a Judge Advocate to Iraq and Afghanistan. These are experiences few other civilian or military defense attorneys can match.
Another factor to consider is location. It may appear that the military defense attorney you are considering hiring operates from a specific location, but that may be far from the case. A non-local military defense attorney may be more difficult to reach and impossible to meet face-to-face until well after you have paid some form of non-refundable retainer. Mr. Berens primarily defends service members in the Puget Sound Region and Washington State. Mr. Berens’ regional focus gives military clients the ability to meet Mr. Berens before representation begins and fosters greater communication during representation.
Other factors to consider are value and quality of representation. Mr. Berens has nearly two decades worth of experience providing quality legal representation to his clients. Read some of the Client Reviews to learn more.
Should I hire a civilian military defense counsel?
Many active duty Judge Advocates filling defense counsel billets are highly qualified. Some are more effective than others. One primary factor that often limits the detailed military defense counsel’s ability to defend service members is workload. An attorney with too many competing interests to give your case the attention that it deserves may not be right for you. Another factor that may limit the detailed military defense counsel’s ability to defend service members is lack of experience.
Timing is also an important factor. Some cases may warrant retaining an attorney, others may not. Feel free to contact Mr. Berens to confidentially discuss the specific facts of your case and to hear his initial thoughts and professional assessment of the most appropriate next steps. Initial consultation is free of charge and confidential.
The first question a service member must decide upon when facing a court-martial or adverse administrative action is who will represent him or her. The stakes are often high, with the potential for life-long consequences. Be sure you have the right advocate on your side. Your decision on who serves as your advocate is almost never a decision you have a chance to make twice.