Naval Legal Service Command Commemorates 50th Birthday

December 6th, 2023

Naval Legal Service Command (NLSC) – a vital component of the Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps that provides essential legal services to the Fleet, Sailors, and their families – marked its 50th anniversary on Dec. 3, 2023.

Naval Legal Service – presently known as NLSC – was founded in 1973. In October of that year, the Secretary of the Navy, The Honorable John Warner, approved a plan to realign the Navy’s worldwide law centers under the authority, administration, and management of the JAG, Rear Adm. Merlin Staring.

Then, on Dec. 3, 1973, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt issued Notice 5450 in order to formally establish Naval Legal Service.

A cake-cutting ceremony honoring the organization’s milestone birthday took place on Dec. 1, 2023, aboard Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Rear Adm. David G. Wilson, commander of NLSC, delivered the keynote remarks to the JAG Corps personnel – both past and present – assembled in person and participating virtually.

“I am excited to be celebrating NLSC’s 50th birthday,” said Wilson. “NLSC helps the Navy meet its mission defending the homeland forward, at sea, and ensuring Sailors stay focused ashore … [It] protects the legal rights and equities of those who protect America.”

During the past 50 years, NLSC has grown and changed in response to an evolving Navy, legislative reforms, world events, and threats to America’s national security. Today, NLSC is focused on delivering decisive legal solutions throughout the naval and joint force. By enabling operations, promoting force readiness, and preserving good order and discipline, NLSC materially contributes – every day – to the Navy’s warfighting advantage.

NLSC is a dynamic and talented global team of nearly 900 dedicated professionals, including officers, enlisted members, civilians, and Navy Reserve personnel. Its legal expertise is vast – with leading experts in military justice, family law, and administrative law within its ranks. NLSC currently encompasses eight Region Legal Service Offices in 53 locations, four Defense Service Offices in 19 locations, and the Victims’ Legal Counsel Program in 28 locations.

“NLSC today looks nothing like NLSC 50 years ago; so, too, will NLSC continue to evolve and be responsive to the Navy’s needs in the future,” said Wilson. “Our people’s commitment to learning and innovation today will ensure the NLSC of tomorrow is prepared to meet future challenges, always remaining relevant and responsive to the Fleet.”

Throughout December, the entire Navy JAG Corps will mark the golden anniversary of NLSC – a watershed event in JAG Corps history – in myriad ways. Commemorative content will be shared via JAG Corps social media platforms.

For more information about NLSC – including how to access critical legal resources at NLSC locations worldwide – visit