What should someone look for when hiring a civilian attorney for representation during military criminal proceedings
When looking to hire a civilian attorney for any matter, it is important to find someone who is experienced (done it before), successful (done it well), current (done it well recently), affordable (within your budget), reliable (does what is promised), and trustworthy (keeps confidences). When looking to hire a civilian attorney for military proceedings, it is helpful if the attorney has experience with the proceedings (be it a court-martial or discharge board) for the military service in question--the more successful experience the better.
Ideally, the attorney will have served on active duty as a JAG (military attorney) and participated successfully in similar proceedings as a JAG. It is also helpful if the civilian attorney has recent experience with similar proceedings as a civilian counsel because military boards and panels sometimes view civilian counsel differently than those who are a JAG.
Another plus is if the civilian attorney has actually litigated military cases, as opposed to simply negotiating a plea or administrative separation agreement. The vast majority of courts-martial are resolved by plea agreements, and are rarely fully litigated. If you need someone to represent you in a fully contested military proceeding (such as a court-martial), look for civilian attorneys who have that sort of experience. Also check to see if the military proceedings require an attorney to have special certifications. For example, in order for an attorney to represent a veteran seeking VA benefits, the attorney must receive special training on veterans' law and be certified by the VA. As a rule, military proceedings do not impose special certification requirements, but it never hurts to ask.