Adam Laxalt, with Navy buddy “Byrnes.” While in the Navy, Laxalt volunteered to serve in a combat zone in Iraq, according to his website. / Courtesy photo
Adam Laxalt, with Navy buddy “Byrnes.” While in the Navy, Laxalt volunteered to serve in a combat zone in Iraq, according to his website. / Courtesy photo
Military service personnel and veterans in Nevada will soon have access to free legal services, said Attorney General Adam Laxalt during a recent trip to Winnemucca. The services will be offered through a new Office of Military Legal Assistance (MLA) that Laxalt plans to launch by month’s end.

The MLA office was part of Laxalt’s campaign platform, and he started working on it during his first week in office, he said during his visit. He soft-launched it this summer, and said he plans to fully open the resource this month.

It’s news befitting Veteran’s Day month.

Laxalt explained that he discovered the need for such an office while trying to legally represent service members and their families as a Naval JAG (Judge Advocate General).

“A JAG can write a letter, complain, but they can ultimately be ignored,” said Laxalt. “You don’t have the legal authority to file in a local state’s jurisdiction,” explained Laxalt. “That was a huge gap.”

In one example cited by Laxalt, JAGs may be ineffective at representing a service member whose spouse comes in because someone is foreclosing on their home while they are deployed.

The MLA gives JAGS a way to pass cases over to Nevada bar attorneys, Laxalt said.

“Not only is that a good free service, and the right thing to do for our service members, once you have a bar attorney in a case, that changes the complexion,” explained Laxalt.

“You can guess what happens,” said Laxalt, “As soon as they note they can be dragged into court by a Nevada attorney, they want to fix it. They want to settle the issue and solve the problem.”

Through the soft launch, Laxalt said the MLA office has taken on 25 cases, and has yet to have one go to court.

The MLA office provides legal assistance through free pro bono services of private sector lawyers. Laxalt explained that 150 lawyers have agreed to commit 10 hours a year. “That’s 1,500 hours (already) in the bank, if you will,” he said.

Also in the ring are existing pro bono service providers in the state that already would like to help veterans, but prior to the MLA office, lacked a way to do so.

The Office will offer a range of service for active duty military individuals and their families. With over 400,000 veterans in the state, Laxalt explained that the office will be starting small by offering free wills and free powers of attorney.

The veterans and service members will have to be referred through an active duty JAG or VSO (Veteran Service Organization).

“With the help of our launch at the end of the month, all of the military community should know there is a way to get in the funnel to get lawyers,” explained Laxalt.

So far, the MLA is doing well. “It’s a pretty cool program. We are already being reached out to by AG offices in other states that want to figure out how they can try to replicate this thing,” said Laxalt.