Pennsylvania is now the 33rd state to adopt a military spouse licensing accommodation rule.

On January 29, 2019, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Board of Law Examiners adopted a new rule that allows military spouse attorneys who accompany their servicemembers to the state to apply for a temporary license to practice law. The new rule goes into effect in July 2019.

Members of the legal and political community in Pennsylvania collaborated to garner support for this rule. Over the past two and a half years, Military Spouse JD Network worked with the Pennsylvania Bar Association, its past president Sharon Lopez, and Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) to advocate for this rule.

“Moving across the country due to military service is a challenge for all families, but especially so for spouses who are unable to provide for their families due to a loss of the ability to pursue their career,” Phillips-Hill said. “Military spouses are already forced to make numerous sacrifices to honor their loved one’s military service. They shouldn’t have to give up on careers that they spent many years and many thousands of dollars to earn.”

The final rule allows military spouse attorneys to apply for a temporary license if they:

  1. are present in Pennsylvania as the spouse of an active-duty member (A) assigned to duty in Pennsylvania or (B) assigned to duty outside the United States but whose last assignment within the United States was in Pennsylvania;
  2. satisfy the requirements of Rule 203(a)(l) and (2)(i);
  3. have not taken and failed the Pennsylvania bar examination;
  4. currently are admitted as an attorney at law in another state;
  5. not currently are the subject of a pending disciplinary matter and not suspended or disbarred;
  6. have not been disciplined for professional misconduct by any jurisdiction within the 10 years immediately preceding filing of the Pennsylvania application or been disbarred at any time by any jurisdiction; and
  7. (A) must be employed and supervised by a Pennsylvania-licensed attorney who is in good standing and who is currently engaged in the practice of law in Pennsylvania; or (B) be employed by the federal government, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or a local government within Pennsylvania and supervised in that employment by a Pennsylvania-licensed attorney who is currently engaged in the practice of law in Pennsylvania.

Many thanks to Military Spouse JD Network members Rachel Smith, Lauren E. Martin, and Alyn Beauregard for leading the efforts to pass this licensing rule in Pennsylvania.

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