American Bar Association awards Camp Foster Legal Assistance Office, attorney

by Cpl. Alyssa N. Gunton, III MEF/MCIPAC Consolidated Public Affairs Office
U.S. Marine Corps

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- The American Bar Association selected the Camp Foster Legal Assistance Office and Capt. Nicholas W. Mull for Legal Assistance to Military Personnel Distinguished Service Awards for their efforts throughout 2013.

Each year, the Standing Committee on LAMP recognizes a legal assistance office and attorney within each military branch of service. Mull is a judge advocate with Legal Services Support Section Pacific, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.
Nominations for the awards can only be submitted by armed forces liaisons to the committee, a member of the committee, or the Judge Advocate General and director, Judge Advocate Division, of the service branches.

The committee reviews the submissions and then gives the awards to units and individuals based on exceptional achievements or service to the armed forces legal assistance effort, according to the ABA-LAMP website. These services address consumer, family, landlord-tenant and other legal issues that typically ensnare the average American.

During 2013, the office provided individual attorney consultation to more than 2,500 clients and nearly 11,000 services, including estate planning documents, notary services, and tax preparation. In support of its preventative law program, the office presented more than 30 legal briefings to approximately 2,000 service members and dependents.

“Our office supports operational readiness of service members and units by ensuring private civil legal issues do not interfere with the military mission,” said Mull. “I was honored and extremely happy that my office was recognized.”

Most of the Marines did not know their office had been nominated for the award, and were surprised when they found out their office had won, according to Sgt. Chad A. M. Clodfelter, the legal assistance chief with the office.

“I am very happy that my Marines’ hard work and dedication are being recognized,” said Clodfelter. “I believe this office will continue to operate at a high professional level. It is a great feeling to be recognized, but at the end of the day, we do this for our clients and customers — not to win an award.”

Mull’s colleagues believe he is well-deserving of the individual award, said Elizabeth A. Harris, a civilian legal assistance attorney with the office.

“He merits recognition for his efforts in improving the operation of this office,” said Harris. “(He established) a cohesive and comprehensive training program, instated new protocols to ensure that clients receive superior service, educated the staff on pertinent changes to the law and available legal programs, redesigned the office’s website, and countless other positive changes.”

Not only did Mull push his staff to excel in their profession, but he also dedicated himself to his Marines, civilian volunteers and the mission, according to Clodfelter.

“Capt. Mull has pushed this office to always give it our best in everything we do and continue to strive to be better,” said Clodfelter. “Every great team has a great leader, and for (our office), that leader is Capt. Mull.”

Mull believes he would not have been able to win the award without the commitment from his office staff.

“I am certainly honored and grateful to have been selected for the individual award,” said Mull. “But, I would have preferred that one of the attorneys on my staff was recognized as opposed to me. As in any leadership position, accomplishments attributed to me personally are meaningless without the loyal and professional efforts of my staff.”

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