Legalman celebrates rating, reflects on service

January 24th, 2024

As the U.S. Navy celebrates the 52nd anniversary of the Legalman (LN) rating, we take a look at one LN at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) who cherishes the role he plays in helping ensure the command's legal duties are carried out.

"Coming from a family comprised of lawyers who served in both the public and private sector, I have always had a calling to pursue a legal career," says Legalman 1st Class Shawn Dorman, NMCSD Office of the Command Judge Advocate leading petty officer. "As an LN I have served on aircraft carriers and forward deployed locations and the one constant about the rate is that we are always in demand."

Dorman, a Philadelphia, Pa. native, joined the Navy in 2014 and belongs to the JAG Corps which includes 645 active-duty and reserve LNs with more than half assigned to Fleet billets, providing legal services on different operation platforms worldwide.

"It's an honor to serve not only in the Navy but to also serve in a rate that I covet so highly," says Dorman. "The reality of our rate is that we often see Sailors at the lowest point of their career, but the one admirable thing that we also get to see is usually a transformative relationship between the Sailor and a highly vested mentor who helps that Sailor change course, and in most cases, achieves unexpected yet extraordinary success in their careers."

For Dorman, his service at a Military Treatment Facility is accentuated by most things medically-related.

"In my fleet experience I've dealt with more of a concentration of operational legal-related demands, while at NMCSD I deal with more medical concerns from medical separation processes to HIPAA concerns," adds Dorman. "However, the one constant for our rate is the expectation that we can provide the highest quality of legal counsel to everyone from a junior Sailor with legal questions to serving the commanding officer directly in some instances."

Yet, the legal service expected of Dorman has sometimes taken him to places he never considered before reporting to NMCSD.

"A reality of serving at NMCSD is supporting the legal requirements of Sailors - some still very young - who are having to contend with end-of-life legal requirements as a result of a terminal illness," explains Dorman. "This particular requirement puts into perspective the sobering reality of a Military Treatment Facility and that is: Whether ensuring the medical readiness of our fleet or filling out a medical/advanced health care directive, at NMCSD we will be there to offer the best possible service."

Dorman has his eyes set on further advancement within the Navy.

"I have enjoyed every aspect of my LN career thus far, but I do have professional aspirations that I hope one day entails a commission," says Dorman.

For now, Dorman enjoys the camaraderie of the JAG Corps.

"To all of the LNs in the fleet, I wish you the warmest happy LN birthday and never lose sight of the vital work that you conduct on behalf of your command," expresses Dorman.

The mission of NMCSD is to prepare service members to deploy in support of operational forces, deliver high-quality healthcare services, and shape the future of military medicine through education, training, and research. NMCSD employs more than 6,000 active-duty military personnel, civilians, and contractors in southern California to provide patients with world-class care anytime, anywhere.