Starting my law office in Iraq was in some ways very similar to how I started my law practice in Towson. In both places, I need the basics: a work space; a private place to meet confidentially with clients; a computer with internet access; a printer; a phone; and a client base.
When I deployed, I arrived in Kuwait, where I took over the established office of the attorney I was replacing. (The Army unit that I support also has troops throughout Iraq, but we did not have an established law office in Iraq at the time.)
Shortly after arriving in Kuwait, however, I was tasked with traveling to Iraq to assist with a number of investigations into potential soldier misconduct. When I arrived, I had no dedicated office space that I could use, so I networked and made connections that helped me work throughout the military complex using various workstations.
Word spread throughout the military complex that a military attorney was present, and I quickly realized that I was the only judge advocate on the complex. Soon, I had a number of personnel seeking and reaching out to me for various legal assistance from notary services to power of attorney to general legal advice. It did not take long to realize there was a need for legal services at the military complex in Iraq.
I was originally only supposed to stay in Iraq no longer than 10 days to assist with the investigation, but when people found out I was leaving to go back to Kuwait, I was asked to stay to provide legal assistance for the military complex. I was quickly provided a dedicated office, a computer with internet, a conference room to meet with clients, a phone and printer access.
I have since posted walk-in hours, created flyers, and have an information slide on the local television network. There has been an uptick in client services since the law office opened a few weeks ago. What started out as a short trip to Iraq has turned into an indefinite stay and established law office here.
Since establishing the practice, I have traveled to other more remote locations throughout Iraq to provide legal services to personnel in areas without a judge advocate. The legal office in Kuwait is being run by my judge advocate colleague who handles the majority of work in Kuwait, while I handle the majority of work in Iraq.
I wonder if being the judge advocate for the military complex is similar to being the only lawyer in a small town and surrounding areas. I wouldn’t know, as I planted and established myself as one of thousands of lawyers throughout the Baltimore-Washington metro area.
But what remains the same is that a need for legal services, both in Towson and Iraq, led to the establishment of a law office.