General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

A service of the ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division


American Bar Association - Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice

June 2008

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Committee Highlight

            Hats off to the many military lawyers who volunteer their time and service to the Division.  These men and women of honor are responsible for encouraging participation in the Division by serving as the voice of the military lawyer within the Division.  The committee coordinates communication between the Division and the military; monitors developments in the area of military law; educates the Division about particular issues that could warrant action by the Division; exposes Division members to military law and the possibility of a career as military lawyer and conducts outreach to local military lawyers at the ABA meeting sites.

            The Division’s Military Law Committee consists of the five military branches; U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Coast Guard lawyers who report and discuss issues that are before the House of Delegates, Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (LAMP), Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law (SCAFL), Department of Defense (DoD), Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), Judge Advocate Association (JAA) and many others.  The committee is currently reviewing the BADC Report and Recommendation regarding The Feres Doctrine , an issue that will be considered by the ABA House of Delegates at the 2008 Annual Meeting in New York City.

            General John S. Cooke (U.S. Army Ret.), Chair, and the committee meets in person at the ABA Annual and Midyear Meetings and by list serve or telephone conference call at other times as necessary.  Retired member emeritus; John R Debar, Alan E. DeWoskin, John S. Jenkins, Jr., and Earle F. Lasseter have contributed greatly to the Division.  Many officers of the military as Gary L. Anderson, Bryan S. Spencer, Gregory M. Huckabee, Alexander White (former committee chair), Charles A. White, Jr., Joseph A. DeWoskin, Benes Z. Aldana, William E. Brown and James. M. Durant III are among the long standing, active members of the committee and the Division. 

            The committee host the Military Law Luncheon at the ABA Annual and Midyear meetings and award a recipient honoring the life and legacy of the ninth Judge Advocate, Major General, (USAF Retired) Keithe E. Nelson who died in 2002.  Gen. Earl E. Anderson was honored as the first recipient of the Section’s Difference Maker, Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.  Military Law Day is among the prestigious events of the ABA and the Division.  In keeping with their tradition of informative programming and delightful social events, the planning group for this committee prepares a full day of activities for Military Law Day during the ABA Annual Meeting.  The officials of this group conducts the United States Armed Forces Court of Appeals Swearing-in Ceremony.  Both civilians and military attorneys may apply for admission to the court.

            A special highlight at the Annual Meeting is the “Dining Out” event which represents the most formal aspects of military social life.  It is believed that the practice dates back to sixth-century England, where King Arthur’s knights held formal ceremonies to honor military victories and feats of heroism. These ceremonies usually included a dinner of fine foods, drinks, and fellowship. Later, this custom spread to monasteries, universities, and eventually to the military officers’ messes. With the adoption of the Dining Out by the military, these feasts became more formalized. British soldiers introduced the custom to colonial America, where it was borrowed by George Washington’s Continental Army.  In its present form, the Dining Out serves to bring officers and their guests together in an atmosphere of fellowship and to enhance the luxuries of life. For civilian guests, it is an opportunity to gain insight into the social world of the uniformed officers. These dinners have    become traditional in all the branches of the armed forces. In the Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard, it is the Dining In; in the Army, the Regimental Dinner; in the Marine Corps it is the Mess Night.

            The committee has published books with the Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel.  They provide valuable and updated information for the website and have implemented CLE program on military law issues. In honor of General Earl E. Anderson, the committee has earned free membership in the Division, in addition to the ABA's dues waiver for lawyers serving in combat zone.   This offer continues through August 31, 2008.  

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