ANSBACH, Germany (June 24, 2021) – Ansbach community members needing legal advice and help can be assured that they are working with the best legal assistance team in the Army for the second year in a row.
The Ansbach Law Center Legal Assistance Office was recognized June 10 with the 2020 Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance Active Army – Small Office award with three other offices across the Army. The office was also recognized with this award in 2019.
“This is a real honor to be recognized back to back,” said Maj. Shawn Peterson, officer in charge of the law center. “Before 2019, it had been more than 5 years since we received any recognition for our client services.”
Virginia Claire Nist, chief of client services, leads an office of five, herself as an attorney and military spouse, a German attorney, a claims examiner and two front desk paralegals, said the award is a great honor.
“It means we are giving excellent customer service all around especially during COVID this year,” said Nist. “They (awards board) really focused on the offices doing creative solutions for COVID.
“We don’t have remote notaries yet but we were able to utilize our staff and telework while still offering good, timely legal services,” she said.
The office offers most legal services you would find in the States with the exception of employment law.
“Notaries and powers of attorney are the types of things people come in for fairly frequently, especially during PCS season,” said Nist, who started volunteering in the office January 2019 and became the legal assistance attorney in November 2019. “We offer specialized legal services such as wills, immigration issues, German landlord-tenant issues and assisting with tickets received here in Germany.”
The office provides a wide variety of services allowed by Army Regulation 27-3 The Army Legal Assistance Program such as divorce, family law, adoption and notary services.
“Every day is different, that is one of the best parts of legal assistance but also one of the daunting parts,” said Nist. “As attorneys we specialize in things such as family law or immigration law, as an Army legal assistance attorney I do that plus keep up with laws of all 50 states. We recently expanded our services to also include EFMP Special Education cases which has been a new adventure.”
“It’s a little daunting but we have great resources here and back to in the States to help our Soldiers and community,” she said.
Nist added that the award acknowledges all our hard work over the last two years, starting with Austen Swaim, former Chief of Client Services and current Attorney-Advisor for the Ansbach Law Center.
“He set great things in motion that I was able to continue and utilize, making my job very easy,” Nist said.
The Legal Assistance Office can be reached by phone at 09802-83-2103 or by email at email@example.com Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Friday mornings for training).
Story and photo by Dani Johnson