Daegu legal team wins two in a row

by Sgt. Uriah Walker, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Stripes Korea

DAEGU, South Korea – When someone mentions legal assistance, thoughts of powers of attorney, wills or notary services typically come to mind. While these are all services the Team 19 Legal Assistance Office offers, they provide much more for our soldiers, spouses, civilians, retirees and widow(er)s located in Area IV. Their efforts, while not often publicized, are far from insignificant.

In fact, the legal assistance team continually performs at such a high level that they were the only active Army small office to receive the 2016 Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance. This is also the second consecutive year they have earned this recognition. So, how did they do it?

“We have an excellent team of civilians and soldiers, plus five to 10 more to assist during tax season,” explained Capt. Brad Johnson, chief of client legal services. “Saving our customers money in legal fees is important but, if we didn’t have the team that we do we couldn’t win awards and claim to provide all of these valuable services to the community.”

The staff, located at Camp Henry, are on hand to provide legal services to the nearly 10,000 customers in Area IV. According to Johnson, in an average week the office may see 120-140 clients - all at no cost. This equates to a legal fee savings of nearly $13,000 per week.

Brig. Gen. John P. Sullivan, commanding general 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, remarked at a recognition ceremony for the tax center team, May 24, that during the 2016 tax season the office processed approximately 600 returns resulting in $1.4M in refunds and saved those customers a combined $200,000 in preparation fees.

“Another thing that contributes to our success in empathy,” said Maj. Alma Whitelaw, chief of administrative law. “It’s not unusual to see his [Johnson’s] car parked outside very late at night or to have someone come in on a weekend to help. Being ready to ‘Fight Tonight’ is more than a catchphrase because if your legal affairs aren’t in order then your mind isn’t in the fight.”

Legal services on the peninsula are unique in many ways but the most obvious is the language barrier. With the number of services that require interaction with Korean Nationals, Ms. Yong Hui So is instrumental in bridging that gap.

“It’s all about the team,” said Johnson. “I always remind our team that when we’re seeing someone in legal assistance, especially if it’s for attorney services, that you’re seeing them on one of their worst days. We’re here to get our clients to a solution and provide peace of mind.”

The selection rate for winners in this year's competition reflects a careful evaluation of the applications, recognizing only those offices that were truly exceptional. Winning two years in a row is no easy feat and speaks to the caliber of services that the Area IV legal team continues to provide.

The Legal Assistance Office is located in Building 1805, inside Gate 1, on Camp Henry. They may be reached at DSN: 768-7692 during the following business hours.

Mon-Wed: 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

Thu: 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Fri: 9:30 am - 4:00 pm

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