Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has announced the formation of an advisory board to develop the first statewide program in Missouri that could provide pro-bono legal services to current military service members.

According to a press release from AG Hawley's office, once the programs is launched, the Military Legal Assistance Team will be Missouri's first attorney general-led program offering our military communities access to pro bono civil legal services. The program will work closely with attorneys from military bases in Missouri to connect service members with qualifying legal needs to private pro bono attorneys who will provide legal guidance and representation. The new advisory board will determine the guidelines for qualifying legal needs as well as create an attorney recruitment strategy.

Members of the advisory board include John D. Comerford, Partner, Dowd Bennett, L.L.P., former U.S. Navy officer; Morry S. Cole, President, Missouri Bar, and Partner, Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C.; David M. Lowe, Colonel (ret.), former State Judge Advocate of the Missouri National Guard, Principal, David M. Lowe Law Firm; Jason R. Scheiderer, Partner, Dentons; Erwin O. (Erv) Switzer, Partner, Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C.; John (Jay) W. Simpson, Partner, Shook Hardy & Bacon, L.L.P.; and Dr. Bucky Buckner, Colonel (ret.) U.S. Army.

In addition to the permanent members, the board says it will work closely with liaison attorneys from Whiteman Air Force Base, Fort Leonard Wood, and the Missouri National Guard Ike Skelton Training Site.

“Missouri’s military service men and women put their lives on the line to protect us and keep us safe at home,” Hawley said. “These men and women should not have to face legal issues alone. My Office is committed to providing legal assistance to our brave men and women in uniform.”

“It is so important to support our men and women in uniform,” Dr. Bucky Buckner, Colonel (ret.) U.S. Army, said. “This program is exciting is because it offers support in a way that is often overlooked.”

“I can’t think of a better way for the law profession to give back to our troops,” John Comerford, former Navy officer and practicing attorney in St. Louis, said. “I look forward to working with the advisory board to develop this program and recruit attorneys who want to give back to those who give us so much.”

“As a former State Judge Advocate, I am familiar with what military service men and women encounter,” David M. Lowe, Colonel (ret.), Missouri National Guard said. “The wonderful thing about this program is that it strives to assist these dedicated men and women with civil legal issues where they otherwise might not find help.”

Attorneys interested in participating in this initiative can visit ago.mo.gov to submit a volunteer form.

Hawley's office says the 'Military Legal Assistance Team' will be formally launched in early 2018.

Randy Kirby