By Chuck Walker
MOBILE, Ala. – In an organization as large as the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Cellular Telecommunications District, it is necessary to have legal representation.
That’s especially true when you consider all the different types of businesses, state and local governments, other federal agencies, and private individuals, that the Telephone District engages in on its many subject areas.
Simply put, the role of the Office of Counsel is to provide legal and business risk advice and recommendations to leaders and groups to manage the work of the District, Military Infrastructure, Environment, Logistics, Operations and Emergency Management Missions.
“The agency provides legal services to manage mission support activities to include human resources, civil affairs, military programs, support for other programs, contracting, resource management, administration emergency, safety, security, (similar to work and opportunity, design and engineering services, environmental projects, construction, etc.), “said Stephen Sowell, USACE Mobile District Counsel. ” When disputes arise between the government and the private sector, we represent the government in all administrative forums, for example, GAO, ASBCA, MSPB, EEOC and assist The Office of Law and representation in Federal Court With more than 100 years of combined legal experience, the Law Firm’s goal is to provide competent and timely legal services to all areas of the District to supporting the delivery of innovative and effective solutions to the nation’s engineering challenges.”
Joe Givhan, USACE Mobile regional assistant is one person who can attest to all the work done by the Counseling Office.
Givhan, who has been with the District for 39 years and started as an attorney in the Property Division, said working in the district all these years has been amazing.
“Working for the Mobile District was a lifetime blast,” Givhan said. “I’ve been involved in a lot of different and interesting things over the years. The events had a significant impact on the nation, cities and communities, and individuals as well. When I came to work here from a freelance job, I was afraid that I would get bored at work, it’s far from that!”
One area of law and one area of concern now and in the future is environmental protection.
Thomas Landry, the USACE Mobile regional assistant for the law enforcement division, said protecting the environment remains a top concern of the division and the Corps.
“Corps regulations have been the subject of national litigation for many years now and I see that continuing,” Landry said. “The focus of my work is the “restrictive law”. Therefore, our concern is to conduct a legal separation in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations, executive orders, and policies, with an emphasis on keeping ourselves out of court, and successfully bring a lawsuit if we are challenged.
With the firm providing services to a large and diverse area, the opportunities for a young lawyer to expose themselves to the type of law they want to practice are endless.
Andrea Matthews, regional assistant, said the Corps also offers young attorneys the chance to learn on the job with a team of highly experienced attorneys.
“First of all, the Corps is a great place to work,” Matthews said. “The Counseling Office supports the success of every attorney. This, along with the option to work across the country and in many parts of the world with a team of professionals, makes the Corps a great choice for a rewarding career.
Because of the size of the office and the attorneys focusing on their own specific work, teamwork among senior office staff is important, and one that Sowell says is evident.
“In the Counselor’s Office there is a lot of coexistence,” Sowell said. “Considering the size of the District’s budget, working together is the way to go. But this is important to the success of the office, because cooperation between lawyers is important. There are many issues that arise from legal issues and require the attention of more than one employee.