Back in 2012, when my Army family moved to Fort Campbell, KY, I tried to volunteer at the post legal office — I was interested in using my legal skills to serve my military community. I had also just served as a Legal Assistance Attorney at our previous duty station, so I knew I had the skills necessary.
Imagine my surprise when I was told that Army policy required that volunteers offering legal services be licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction where the legal office was located. Checking back in with my fellow MSJDN members in our private discussion group, I learned this was an issue faced my more than just me — member after member recounted stories of being unable to volunteer due to this policy. MSJDN, along with individual attorneys, reached out to the Army Office of The Judge Advocate General (OTJAG)Legal Assistance Policy Division, as well as the ABA Legal Assistance for Military Personnel Committee, to ask for a change.
Happily, this month the Army OTJAG Legal Assistance Policy Division announced a new policy memorandum, eliminating the Army requirement for Legal Assistance volunteer attorneys to be barred in the jurisdiction where the volunteer legal services are to be performed. Legal Assistance volunteer attorneys must still be qualified by The Judge Advocate General (TJAG), but the end result is great news for military spouse attorneys looking to volunteer in Army Legal Assistance offices (in an attorney role) without having to take another bar exam.
Thank you from MSJDN to everyone who shared their story, and to the Army OTJAG Legal Assistance Policy Division, who made a common-sense change that will provide military spouse attorneys an opportunity to serve their community.