The Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners voluntarily enacted a
military spouse attorney licensing policy, effective as of March
2014. The following message appears on their website:
"The Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners welcomes inquiries and
applications for admission on motion from attorney spouses of
service members in the United States Uniformed Services.
Understanding the unique challenges faced by military spouse
attorneys who move frequently in support of the nation's defense,
the Board of Bar Examiners is committed to working with these
applicants to accommodate their unique circumstances and to
expedite the bar application process to the extent possible when
their service brings them to Massachusetts. Military spouse
attorneys are encouraged to contact Board of Bar Examiners
Executive Director Marilyn Wellington at (617) 482-4466 or [e-mail Marilyn.Wellington]
for more information regarding this process."
Massachusetts allows all attorneys to submit applications for
admission on motion. Admission is not based on reciprocity or
limited to candidates from specific jurisdictions. However, the
current rules for admission request proof that an applicant has
been actively engaged in the practice of law for five out of the
past seven years immediately preceding the application.
Additionally, the applicant must have graduated from a law school
that is ABA-approved or authorized by a state statute to grant the
degree of bachelor of laws or J.D. at the time of graduation.
However, the Board of Bar Examiners considers applications on a
case-by-case basis and the new policy encourages them to
accommodate the hardships faced by military spouse attorneys.
While there is no specific ruling in place regarding military
spouse attorneys, the Supreme Judicial Court directed this effort
and, recognizing the numerous employment barriers faced by attorney
spouses of members of the military, encourages the Board of Bar
Examiners to work with military spouses to ensure that the bar
admission process proceeds in an expedited manner that addresses
their unique challenges to the greatest possible extent.
Chief Justice Fernande Duffly said, "The Massachusetts Supreme
Judicial Court recognizes the unique circumstances faced by
military spouse attorneys, who must move frequently with their
families in support of our nation's defense. The Court supports the
flexibility and accommodations that the Board of Bar Examiners
makes available to these attorneys in the bar application process
when their military duty brings them to Massachusetts."
Military spouse attorneys are thrilled at the initiative shown
by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and Board of Bar
Examiners. "Creating a path for the practice of law to be
compatible with the military lifestyle sets an example for the
entire legal profession and demonstrates meaningful support for
military families," said Rachel Winkler, president of the Military
Spouse JD Network (MSJDN), a group focused on eliminating barriers
to the practice of law for military spouse attorneys. MSJDN is made
up of over 1,000 active duty, retired and reserve spouses from all
branches of the United States' military, as well as other attorneys
and community members who support their mission to improve the
lives of military families. MSJDN applauds the new policy and looks
forward to working with the Supreme Judicial Court and the Bar
Examiners on a rule that fully addresses licensing issues for
military spouse attorneys in Massachusetts.
Elizabeth Jamison is the communications director for the
Military Spouse JD Network. She currently resides in Jacksonville,
FL, with her husband, a Navy helicopter pilot. She runs her own
practice and is of-counsel to the Law Office of Thomas Carter. She
is admitted to the bar in both California and Washington. She
volunteers her time with MSJDN, the local legal aid office, and
Homefront Rising, an organization that encourages and trains
military spouses to run for office.