By Elizabeth Hanning Smith

On January 1, 2017, the Ohio Supreme Court adopted amendments to the pro hac vice rules which will benefit military spouse applicants living in the state. Under the amendments, which went into effect the same day, out-of-state military spouse attorney applicants will be eligible to apply under the Ohio pro hac rules to practice law in Ohio for a renewable two year period. Military spouse attorney applicants would be exempted from the standard restriction limiting participation under the pro hac vice rules to three proceeding a year.

The Ohio Supreme Court is also considering a more expansive military spouse licensing rule and public comment on those proposed amendments is open through January 18, 2017. Revisions to Rule I, Section 16 would enable an attorney spouse of an active duty member of the U.S. military temporarily stationed in Ohio to practice law under certain conditions. The proposed rule would require than an applicant submit evidence that they are a dependent spouse of a US service member that is on active duty orders here in Ohio; be admitted to practice law in another jurisdiction; be a member in good standing in all jurisdictions where the applicant is already admitted; establish that they possess the character and fitness required of Ohio applicants; complete a course on Ohio law within 60 days of admission; and comply with all other ethical, legal, and continuing legal education obligations generally applicable to attorneys licensed in Ohio.

The proposed amendments to the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio outline the eligibility and application requirements, the approval process, and the limitations of the designation. The Ohio Supreme Court noted the “unique mobility requirements of military families who support the defense of our nation” when issuing the announcement.

The Ohio Supreme Court’s Task Force on Access to Justice and the Ohio State Bar Association both recommended the rules adoption. Twenty-two states and the US Virgin Island have adopted similar rules benefiting military spouse attorney applicants. A version of the military spouse rule has been pending before the Ohio Supreme Court since 2009.

All public comments should be directed to:

John VanNorman
Senior Policy and Research Counsel
Supreme Court of Ohio
‪65 South Front Street, 7th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215-3431

or   ‪john.vannorman@sc.ohio.gov (Please include your full name and mailing address in any comments submitted by e-mail).

Here is a link to the public announcement.