When people enlist in the military it’s serious business. Sure, there’s a lot of excitement, even if it’s nervous excitement. But entering into the military means signing an enlistment contract. Contracts have earned a reputation for their fine print and specificities that typically earn hours of close readings, followed by negotiation and compromising. Even though enlisting is something that a new recruit takes joy in, they’ll want to make sure that their interests are well represented in their contract.
To make sure that that happens, some seek out an attorney to look over their enlistment contract. And while many attorneys do their due diligence, there is an unfortunate history of this not happening.
When an attorney falls short
So, the job of an attorney is to represent their client and their best interests. Military enlistment contracts cover a lot of ground. Some of the key features include:
- Length of required service (active/inactive duty): While there is a standard option, there is variety, depending on the situation.
- The bonuses that the service member may receive: Obviously, getting the exact terms and “numbers” behind this is imperative.
- Job training: This will touch on promised training, and what can occur as a result.
- Promotions: This will elaborate on what benefits come from a promotion and the terms required to reach it.
- Starting pay: If a recruit is fresh out of high school, their compensation might not have as much room for negotiation. However, someone with more educational experience will have a better chance of negotiating for more.
While it’s true that life throws us curveballs and that we don’t always get what we want, the purpose of contract negotiations is to at least find out exactly what will happen and to get that in writing. Especially if you have an attorney looking over the contract and reporting to you. Can you imagine signing an enlistment contract for specific terms, as confirmed by your attorney, but then finding out while in active duty that the terms are nowhere near the same? That your assignment is for double the active-duty you expressed interest in? That you agreed to a lower paygrade? You may wonder about the promises from the recruiter and your attorney.
A promise is no good unless you see it in writing
Part of negotiating is the verbal back and forth, which could feature a number of “promises” that certain terms will indeed make it into your enlistment contract. It’s important to note that no matter who makes these promises, they will not be held up as fact until they are in writing. In fact, there is often specific language in military contracts that state as much.
Many people venture into the military with a sense of excitement, but that can be undercut when they discover that their contract does not represent their wishes. This is especially discouraging if they hired an attorney to help them vet this very contract. Legal malpractice is a serious issue that affects countless people. A legal professional can help hold an attorney responsible for not doing their job.