How has your experience as an active duty and reserve judge advocate affected your current legal practice?
I think the most important thing on this point is that over a period of 26+ years in uniform, both active and reserve, you just become very familiar with the culture. I'm familiar with the organization. Specifically, just as a specific example - you know I speak the language of the military. There are a lot of acronyms for instance in the military and I'm fluent in acronym.
What I do when I'm best representing my clients is communication is essential and so speaking the language of the military is incredibly important and I've learned how to do that and understand that over time.
The other thing is I respect the organization. I had myself a long career, both active and reserve. And I respect what they do, as well as the people in uniform who are my clients when I'm representing someone in the military.
And I guess the most important thing there is to note when you deal from a position of mutual respect a lot of time the other side, the decision maker they'll relax a little bit. They will just take a breather; they will take a breath and they will listen to what you have to say.
And often times that's all you need because if they will relax and listen, then you can start telling your client's story and good things flow from that.
So tell me why is it important to understand the military establishment and legal system when dealing with your cases? What advantages has that offered you?
You have to know the rules, the regulations, the underlying law, inside and out. And I've just enjoyed working with military regulations, whatever branch of the service it is. But it goes more than just technical and technical knowledge of the individual regs. You have to have that in place.
But I think understanding the culture and understanding the customs of the service is incredibly important when you are dealing with military clients for instance. Because you've got to know what goes and what doesn't go. You know something may be technically allowable under rule or regulation but it's not going to pass muster, it's not going to pass the smell test by the command group or the higher authorities, the decision makers, in the case.
The other thing is the military as a whole has a low tolerance for dishonesty, has a low tolerance for bs, to be quite frank. And you have to be able to convey that to your clients as well. And what I mean by that is we deal from a position of what's really going on, so there are often various layers of what's going on in the client's situation in the client's life with his or her case.
I contacted Col. Meili as a fellow practitioner to gain some context and perspective on a pretty complex set of issues. Because I practice in a different field of law, Col. Meili's extensive expertise was invaluable and he was more than generous with his time. A skilled and dedicated professional who cares deeply about obtaining the best possible outcome for his clients, Bill's a leader in this field.
- Steffen Chapin
After an exhaustive search of military attorneys, I came across the name of Bill Meili. From my first email exchange and telephone call, I knew that Bill was the right person to handle my case. I had discussed my unique circumstance with a handful of other attorneys who felt it may be too difficult to achieve the outcome that I was seeking - but Bill was interested in me and my case, and wholeheartedly believed that we had the ball in our court. I could tell that Bill cared about me as a person and soldier, not just viewing me as a paycheck.
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