Yesterday, the Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN) joined with attorney Patricia Elrod Hill, the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers, and the National Association of Women Lawyers to file an amici brief in support of a military spouse attorney and MSJDN member whose application for Georgia bar admission under a waiver program for military spouses was denied. The American Bar Association filed its own amicus brief in support of this same military spouse attorney last week. MSJDN is truly grateful for the support of the military spouse attorney community from our colleagues in the legal profession.
“The National Association of Women Lawyers is proud to support the women and men lawyers who serve their countries as military spouses,” said Angela Beranek Brandt, NAWL President. “It is imperative that every state provide a clear and reasonable process for military spouses to receive licensure waivers to ensure that they are not required to forgo their careers in addition to the other sacrifices they make for our country.”
In 2016, Georgia adopted a policy and process for military spouse attorneys to petition for a waiver of the existing rules for admission. A lawyer seeking admission under the Georgia program must show that he or she is licensed in another jurisdiction, and dependent spouse of an active-duty service member stationed in Georgia. The Board of Bar Examiners also considers how long the military spouse has been practicing law, prior employment, and career goals. Despite providing the required information, the military spouse attorney applicant was denied without explanation in early 2018.
Thirty jurisdictions have licensing accommodations for military spouse attorneys. However, Georgia is one of a handful that did not adopt the MSJDN Model Rule or a variation of it. Instead, Georgia adopted a policy providing a case-by-case request for waivers. These policies lack clarity and definition, leaving military families in further limbo as they apply and wait to see if they qualify for the waiver policy. Other states with similar processes include Texas, Massachusetts, and New York.
“Military spouse attorneys are so appreciative of the support we have received from states enacting licensing accommodations that allow us to continue our chosen profession while serving as a military family,” said MSJDN President Libby Jamison. “MSJDN is committed to making sure these rules work as intended to support all military spouse attorneys in their careers.”
Questions about MSJDN’s state licensing initiative? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.