Army Trial Counselor in a Maneuver Enhancement Brigade: My Experience

What you will find below is an interview we did with a real Trial Counselor in the Army National Guard.  Each question is in bold and the response is listed directly below the question.  I hope you find this information helpful.

What Is Your Job Title?

My job title is Trial Counsel for a Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

What is the Job Description for an Army Trial Counselor?

Serves as Trial Counsel to Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Serves as primary advisor to staff on operational law, law of war, rules of engagement, and military justice issues. Provides legal assistance to Soldiers. Provides briefings to Soldiers on various issues, including pre-mobilization, legal assistance, and ethics. Provides legal support to Soldier Readiness Processing events. Serves as Recorder during Administrative Discharge Boards. Assists Command Judge Advocate as needed.

What Type of Unit Are You In?

I am in the HHC of a Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

What Are Your Primary Duties and Responsibilities as an Army Trial Counselor?

My primary duties are managing the military justice docket of the brigade, providing advice on operational issues, serving as the Recorder during administrative discharge boards, giving legal advice to commanders and Soldiers, and filling in for the Command Judge Advocate as needed.

What Do You Like Most About Your Job?

I like the fact that I work with a great group of Soldiers, including one that I personally recruited in.

What Do You Dislike About Your Job?

I dislike no longer being a formal troop leader, and the fact that as a special staff officer, sometimes we are not as integrated into the unit as other branches.

What Are Your Biggest Accomplishments Since Taking Your Job?

My biggest achievements include serving as a Judge Advocate during the NATO Summit in Chicago, conducting multiple administrative discharge boards, and providing quality legal advice to Soldiers.

What Are the Best Tips You Can Share for Someone About to Serve as an Army Trial Counselor?

I would say as a Judge Advocate, accept that your job is to provide quality staff work to the commander, and that this work will keep commanders and organizations on the right track.

Can You Tell Us A Little Bit About Your Military Experience?

I received my commission in 2002 from the Army ROTC program at the University of Illinois and branched Military Police. I served seven years in that capacity, in both the Illinois and Ohio Army National Guard, as a Platoon Leader and Company Executive Officer. I mobilized to Germany in 2004-2005 where my platoon provided law enforcement support to various installations. I recommissioned in 2009 as a Judge Advocate, and have served as a Trial Counsel since that time.

Soldier Biography 

Shariq Kathawala has served over 11 years in the Army National Guard, and studied at the University of Illinois for college, and Ohio State University for law school. He currently lives in Chicago, Illinois, where he works as a civilian prosecutor in his full-time job.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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5 thoughts on “Army Trial Counselor in a Maneuver Enhancement Brigade: My Experience”

  1. Candace Ginestar

    Thank you for sharing your experiences! I think it is great that you commissioned and spent time in the operational Army before becoming a JA. I think that some young officers don’t realize that they can call on the JA for advice before they do something, and that it generally covers their butt in case something goes wrong. It’s always a good idea to get in touch with your office if there are questions about documents and policies.

  2. It takes a very talented individual to service as Trial Counselor, for a Trial Counselor must be skilled in providing legal services for an array of military jurisprudence areas, including claims, contract law, administrative and civil law, as well as international and operational law. Not an easy task. This type of expertise would put a military Trial Counsel ahead of the game in the running for a position as a civilian. I notice that Shariq Kathawala is now working with the Prosecutor\’s Office for the State of Illinois with the Child Protection Division. Excellent way to use his skills and experience.

    1. After reading this great interview and finding out that a trial counselor is there to also help soldiers, I felt a sense that a more true system of justice happens in the military. As I read this comment and found that Shariq now works in Child Protection, I am even more happy. As A Grandpa who had my 23 month old Grandson murdered and no justice was done, I have a strong stand on issues concerning Child abuse and deaths. Thank you Shariq, may God help you.

      I must mention that I do have a book published about the whole ordeal. It is Titled Grandpa’s Mission.

    1. Great post here. I’m currently in law school and am considering becoming a JAG Officer after I graduate. Hopefully, things will go as planned.

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