Summary of 2018 MSJDN Annual Survey Results

By Maria Q. Campbell

The Military Spouse JD Network has released the results of the 2018 survey on military spouse attorneys. Several years ago MSJDN developed the survey to understand who makes up the military spouse attorney community and what impact MSJDN has had in that community. The survey has also helped inform MSJDN leadership in its efforts to plan initiatives that are most beneficial to its members.

The survey ran from November 21, 2018 through January 8, 2019.  It was advertised via social media and email and was open to military spouse attorneys and military spouse law students regardless of whether they were an MSJDN member or not.  Thank you to the two hundred and ninety (290) individuals who participated in the survey.

The full report can be found here at 2018 Annual Military Spouse Attorney Survey. Here are some highlights:

Demographics

  • Military spouse attorneys represent all branches of service, and like years passed, the largest group comes from the Army. 32.4% are affiliated with the Army; 25.9% are affiliated with the Navy; 24.5% are affiliated with the Air Force; 12.4% are affiliated with the Marines; and 4.8% are affiliated with the Coast Guard.
  • Active duty families make up the largest group of military spouse attorneys at 84%. 2% percent of military spouse attorneys are currently serving in the military themselves and 12% are veterans. Among veterans, approximately 23% were Judge Advocate Generals (JAG) officers.
  • The majority of military spouse attorneys (71.7%) are married to officers, while 22.7% are married to enlisted service members and 1.8% are married to warrant officers.
  • Approximately 59% of military spouse attorneys have children. For those who have children, the majority (76%) have 1 or 2 children.
  • Frequent permanent changes of duty station (“PCS moves”) are the norm for most military families. PCS moves occur on average every 2-3 years.

Military Spouse Attorneys as Professionals

  • Military spouse attorneys have a wide-range of levels of legal experience. 22% have one to three years of practice; another 24% have four to six years of practice; 22% have seven to ten years of practice; and nearly 40% have over ten years of practice.
  • Military spouse attorneys work in a wide array of legal areas. The two most common areas are in small firms and government. About 20% work in a law firm with more than 75 lawyers. 18% reported ever having a solo practice during their legal careers.
  • While 97% of military spouse attorneys have a license to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, only about 76% of those working report having employment in a job that requires a law license. 11% are unemployed and seeking employment while 5% are unemployed and no longer seeking employment. The unemployment rate for respondents dropped approximately 5% from the previous year.
  • 89% of military spouse attorneys have taken and passed at least one bar exam. Of those, 28% have been admitted to two jurisdictions by examination. 5% have been admitted to three jurisdictions by examination and nearly 2% have been admitted to five or more jurisdictions by bar exam.
  • A quarter of military spouse attorneys have been admitted on motion in at least one jurisdiction—the majority (55%) did so in DC.
  • 25% of military spouse attorneys admitted by motion used a military spouse admission rule. This is a nearly 10% increase over last year’s survey.
  • Military spouse attorneys commit a significant number hours to volunteer work. About half of military spouse attorneys report they volunteer in their communities. 71.9% volunteer 1-5 hours on a weekly basis.
  • Approximately 52% of military spouse attorneys reported that they lived remotely from their service member in order to maintain their legal career.

The full executive summary of the  2018 Annual Military Spouse Attorney Survey.