By Kristen Jones, 2018-2019 MSJDN Treasurer-Elect
This month we celebrate Wyoming as the 32nd state (and 33rd jurisdiction) to pass a military spouse licensing rule. Effective October 1, 2018, military spouses and domestic partners may apply for admission without examination, and their temporary license will last as for as long as the servicemember’s orders keep the family in Wyoming. What’s more, Wyoming’s leadership and justices found no need to add a harmful supervision requirement. Rule 306 closely tracks MSJDN’s Model Rule, and recognizes ”the unique mobility requirements of military families who support the defense of our nation.”
Wyoming’s bar leadership and Supreme Court (left, in Cheyenne) showed tremendous support in passing the rule quickly and quietly—as the state with the smallest population, Wyoming knows how to get things done! In March of this year, our directors had two opportunities to meet and woo Wyoming State Bar president Wes Graham. Karen Scanlan, our President Elect, met Wes at the ABA Leadership Institute in Chicago and a couple weeks later Karl Gerner, MSJDN State Licensing Director, spoke with Wes again at the Western States Bar Conference in Santa Barbara. Karen and Karl shared the MSJDN Model Rule with Wes and he ran with it! At his initiative, the Wyoming Board of Law Examiners considered the rule and promptly recommended it to the Supreme Court in June. Within days, the Court passed the rule. (No doubt, the justices were favorably impressed with the example of Crystal Girolami, an MSJDNer currently working for the Court as a Legal Resources Attorney!)
Crystal Girolami (left) and the author, Kristen Jones (right)
When my family moved to Wyoming in 2013, the state had only recently introduced the UBE and had just started entertaining limited forms of reciprocity. Admissions happened twice a year—not on a rolling basis—and it took me 11 months to secure a license. While I found the legal community tremendously warm and welcoming, the barrier to licensure was a huge struggle for me as a brand-new Air Force spouse weathering her first PCS. I am so proud of the work of MSJDN and the unreserved support from the Wyoming bar and thrilled that this new rule from the Equality State (or Cowboy State if you prefer) will ease the transition for military spouse attorneys!
As we celebrate this success, our work continues in several other western states: Montana, Washington, Utah, New Mexico, and California. For more information about how to assist with state licensing efforts, contact Karl Gerner, State Licensing Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.