Army Legal Service

#1
Hi all,

I qualify as a solicitor in November and was wondering if anyone here is part of the ALS. Im interesting in joining and would like to know more from the horses mouth so to speak. What's the job like? After leaving did people find it hard to get a job in a civvie practice? What was the diversity of the role like?

Sorry about all the questions. Would appreciate any feedback that people who have been there and done that.

Thanks
 
#2
JohnDutch said:
Hi all,

I qualify as a solicitor in November and was wondering if anyone here is part of the ALS. Im interesting in joining and would like to know more from the horses mouth so to speak. What's the job like? After leaving did people find it hard to get a job in a civvie practice? What was the diversity of the role like?

Sorry about all the questions. Would appreciate any feedback that people who have been there and done that.

Thanks
You should contact Army Legal Services in Upavon. 3 main streams that you can follow: Advisory, Operational Law or Prosecuting. You should try and get some experience of life before joining because although you become an Army officer you only spend 3 weeks at Sandhurst on the Vicars & Tarts Course and you do need some credability. If you serve for 4 years you should have no problem going back to civilian practice. The longer you stay the harder it becomes.
 
#3
I wouldn't touch the ALS with a barge-pole.

I don't know anyone who has had professional dealings with the ALS (either from within the Army, or outside it) who has had a good word to say about them. I say this having been an Adjt for 2 1/2 years.

The ALS has a reputation of being a bunch of people who couldn't hack it in civvie street.

My recommendation to you, as it has been to others who have asked about this very question, is either join the Army as a proper officer in a real part of the Army, or become a civilian lawyer.

The ALS are simply not up to the job - and I suspect that whilst you'll enjoy it for a bit, you'll always wonder why officers from the real Army looked at you with pity.
 
#4
Bayonet-mouse said:
I wouldn't touch the ALS with a barge-pole.

I don't know anyone who has had professional dealings with the ALS (either from within the Army, or outside it) who has had a good word to say about them. I say this having been an Adjt for 2 1/2 years.

The ALS has a reputation of being a bunch of people who couldn't hack it in civvie street.

My recommendation to you, as it has been to others who have asked about this very question, is either join the Army as a proper officer in a real part of the Army, or become a civilian lawyer.

The ALS are simply not up to the job - and I suspect that whilst you'll enjoy it for a bit, you'll always wonder why officers from the real Army looked at you with pity.
Spending years in the Orderly Room as the Discipline Sgt (ORC) and latterly the Chief clerk (ORQMS) of my Battalion in the mid 90s and now legally qualified myself, I must say that my experience of them was quite different. I found them to be most helpful and I learned a great deal from them.

The ALS at what was 1 Armd Div at Verden handled my divorce which cost me nothing, they taught me how to take statements and much much more.

You could ring them up directly, regardless of your rank and receive all manner of legal advice. Similarly, the ALS team in Hong Kong under (then) Col Howell were a superbly professional bunch of people. Indeed, it was Colonel Howell who produced a superbly written and well-balanced report into bullying in the Army which was well-received by the Parliamentary Defence Select Committee.

In Northern Ireland, the ALS 'Flying Lawyer out of HQ NI at Lisburn saved many a skin when he was on hand to look after our soldiers after an incident and handled the criminal injuries compensation claims for our soldiers with great skill and speed.

Perhaps you were unlucky or things have radically changed since I retired from the Army but certainly my experience with them was a positive one and I cannot speak too highly of them!

Regards and best wishes
 
#5
Bayonet-mouse said:
I wouldn't touch the ALS with a barge-pole.

I don't know anyone who has had professional dealings with the ALS (either from within the Army, or outside it) who has had a good word to say about them. I say this having been an Adjt for 2 1/2 years.

The ALS has a reputation of being a bunch of people who couldn't hack it in civvie street.

My recommendation to you, as it has been to others who have asked about this very question, is either join the Army as a proper officer in a real part of the Army, or become a civilian lawyer.

The ALS are simply not up to the job - and I suspect that whilst you'll enjoy it for a bit, you'll always wonder why officers from the real Army looked at you with pity.
What about Legal Spice?! :wink:
 
#7
It mkes me wonder how professional they are when you see them displaying their contact e-mail address : justitia@btconnect.com

You think they could be afforded a proper MOD e-mail address!.
 
#8
Darth_Doctrinus said:
...who is also a member of our fine community... :D

...but hell yes!!!
God bless her lovely legalness. *sighs*
 
#9
I am in a similar position as the original poster's although I have been qualified for 3 years and have been 'hacking civvie life' fairly comfortably which may come as a surprise to Bayonet-mouse. I have been considering the ALS as a fresh challenge not as an escape route from civvie life which, quite frankly, does not require an awful lot of hacking.

It strikes me that Bayonet-mouse seems blissfully unaware of the contributuion that supporting elements of the army provide to the fighting elements. Does he consider that a driver, or a chef, or a medic, is not a proper soldier and should therefore get a life and grab a weapon? Does he consider that soldiers could happily carry on with their jobs without a supporting legal service? If so, I suggest that he never leaves the army because he may struggle to 'hack' civvie street.

Other comments on this thread have been altogether more interesting and helpful.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#10
The ALS raises hackles in the rest of the army because, quite frankly, a lot of its officers aren't very 'military': whether they're good or bad lawyers, most of us aren't in a position to judge but you can easily spot whether they've learned how to polish their boots, press their trousers or whatever and a good few seem to have missed that lesson. I once watched a bumptious young ALS captain deliver a lecture to a group of TA officers on 'New Issues in Military Law' or some such topic. He turned up in unpolished brown shoes, scruffy barrack dress trousers and a shirt which looked like it had spent the previous month at the bottom of his laundry basket. It appeared that he'd jotted down a few brief headings and was planning to cuff the majority of the lecture; unfortunately, his audience included a fair few lawyers, several of whom took the opportunity to rip into him as his blather unfolded. It became a form of comedy of embarassment, rather like watching three or four episodes of Fawlty Towers back-to-back. Not a happy event.

On the other hand, I've met some very switched on characters over the years. I guess it's like most parts of the army: some people are thrusting to get on in a profession which interests them and they enjoy; others are taking the opportunity to hide away from the very different pressures of civilian life.
 
#11
That seems to be a much fairer, more measured comment. I would add though that if ALS lawyers are not meeting standards of dress and general military demeanour, that is surely a criticism of the training at Sandhurst and beyond. I suspect that the problem lies in trying to create the dual, soldier/solicitor role. The two strike me as being mutually incompatible, although I wonder to what extent a TA officer is more of a soldier than an ALS officer.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#12
Bushwacker said:
... although I wonder to what extent a TA officer is more of a soldier than an ALS officer.
What an odd comment. In this case, I would suspect the majority of the audience had been members of the TA and/or regular army for an average of about fifteen years each whilst I would estimate that the ALS captain in question was probably on his second tour. In any case, I doubt whether many TA officers that I have met would turn up to lecture on a major career course dressed like tramps, or would not bother to prepare a proper lecture.

Anyway, I would suggest that while it isn't common, some professionally qualified officers do take the attitude that 'soldierliness' comes a very distant second to their professional skills and act accordingly. It's an attitude that is neither big nor clever IMHO.
 
#13
Bushwacker said:
That seems to be a much fairer, more measured comment. I would add though that if ALS lawyers are not meeting standards of dress and general military demeanour, that is surely a criticism of the training at Sandhurst and beyond. I suspect that the problem lies in trying to create the dual, soldier/solicitor role. The two strike me as being mutually incompatible, although I wonder to what extent a TA officer is more of a soldier than an ALS officer.
Some strange comments above! I doubt very much that lawyers (and anybody else for that matter) continually need to be spoon-fed and have their noses wiped for the rest of their careers. Are you really suggesting that ALS people should hold RMAS responsible for their own admin? It's a flawed argument and if you are suggesting that we do, then you're on a hiding to nothing. I think you'll find it's called self-discipline..

Secondly, if you consider lawyer/soldier incompatible, I wonder what you think of the other PQOs? I would argue that they probably hold the higher ground when it comes to incompatibility with Armed Service. Nonetheless, they seem to get on just fine. As for the TA comment, I have no idea what was going through your mind when you wrote that and besides, somebody else has already responded to that little nugget!
 
#14
Sky-Monkey said:
What about Legal Spice?! :wink:
Who has just been posted to now be working 50 metres from my office.

She was sooooooooooo lonely when she cuddled up to me yesterday in the hot sun............................
 
#15
Baghdad-Brit said:
Sky-Monkey said:
What about Legal Spice?! :wink:
Who has just been posted to now be working 50 metres from my office.

She was sooooooooooo lonely when she cuddled up to me yesterday in the hot sun............................
Fiend! I'm in love. AAARGH! (Not with you, you understand).
 
#16
If the odd ALS soldier delivers a poor lecture or dresses in a shoddy fashion then that is one thing but if the ALS as a whole is characterised by poor professional standards (legal skills apart) then surely that is an issue that arises out of poor selection procedures or inadequate training? If not selection or training, then what? Yes, self-discipline is essential but if you are selecting people who do not have that quality or who do not display it during training and beyond then that, to me, suggests that the army needs to rethink its procedures.

As for compatibility, it strikes me that taking a highly academic vocation and marrying it with the grunt and grind of soldiering is always going to produce an uneasy relationship. Yes, I am sure that one can be an excellent solider, up their with the best, and an excellent lawyer, on a par with those at the top of their game in civvy street, but do you really consider that a profession that requires you to spend hours with your head in books analysing provisions of complex statutes and assessing caselaw, bears any resemblance to what is required as a regular soldier? I am sure it is possible to merge the two but my own view is that it is always going to be difficult, especially when you are fast-tracking civvies though 3/4 weeks at Sandhurst.
 
#17
During acclimitisation for Telic 2, my TA company were sent to the Kuwaiti desert for 3 whole days(rather than the supposed 6 or 7) in preparation for our move over the border. Part of this time was spent with the most pathetically inept ALS officer you could imagine!! His job was to explain the rules of engagement to us but all I could see in him was a slimy, arrogant little twat who would have thought nothing of fuc@ing us over big time if we'd ever made a wrong call in the use of lethal force!! The more scenarios that were being put to him the more tongue tied and confused he seemed to get!

By the time we had got out of this lecture, the look of utter confusion on people's faces was just a picture. For the TA, preparation for mobilised service should be No1 PRIORITY -Law of Armed Conflict, Use of Lethal Force, Prisoner Handling, VCP and search skills etc, etc. However, the main effort still seems to be more traditional soldiering skills - FTX and the like. As for CCRF, some of you will know my views on that shower of shite by now!!
 
#19
Whoa there. Let's put all this into context. I'm not ALS but have had plenty to do with them during a career as Adjt and beyond - they are a good bunch if you ask them to do the right thing. They are our experts on Mil Law, AGAI 67 and so on and I can promise you all from first hand experience that you need their advice from time to time. Ask them the right questions and they will give you the right answers. Bushwacker - you need to get your advice first hand from an ALS officer, not from a chat forum where experience may have tainted perception.

As for scruffy or inept officers - unfortunately they get everywhere (even the teeth arms) and need to be gripped by their boss, peers or suitable SNCOs. Failure to sort them out at an early stage results in scruffy and inept senior officers and we don't want that.
 
#20
In my experience (both discipline and operational), like most organisations they vary and much of it arises out of poor leadership, supervision and education.

I know of several who have had successful careers in civvy street before joining up, and that they joined up because they wanted a bit of variety and fun rather than being whipped about in a corporate job that they do not enjoy.

The Operational Law side is (in my mind) the most effective part of the bunch. They (try to) think operationally and are there to help the soldiers operate robustly but within the relevant laws. That said, I have seen both excellent and truly appalling presentations on Rules of Engagement with the obvious side effects. Good instruction gives the soldiers confidence, poor instruction loses the audience meaning that they don't listen to important info and/ or think that they will be hung out to dry if things go wrong (which is not the case).

The Army Prosecuting Authority is the biggest weak link in my mind. I have never seen any legal advice saying that there is 'no case to answer'. They always seem to think that Courts martial should go ahead and then seem surprised when cases are thrown out for lack of evidence, thus having wasted huge amounts of time and money, whilst putting soldiers through unnecessary stress.

Advice to those thinking of joining: Think about your aim - do you want travel, good friends, an opportunity to go on ops but hugely less money? Talk to some ALS lawyers who are serving. Do you like them, do they strike you as capable etc?
 

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