around the bar
February 17, 2012

Michelle Obama Praises ABA on Professional Licensing for Military Spouses

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta joined First Lady Michelle Obama at the announcement of a report that aims to remove employment barriers for military spouses.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta joined First Lady Michelle Obama at the announcement of a report that aims to remove employment barriers for military spouses. (Dept. of Defense photo by Glenn Fawcett)

When First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled a report that offers suggestions for removing employment barriers for military spouses, she commended the _’s efforts in the area.

The ABA House of Delegates, at the association’s Midyear Meeting Feb. 6, passed a resolution that encourages bar admission authorities to accommodate lawyers who must move frequently to other states because of their spouses’ deployments.

“We’re going to urge more national professional associations to follow the lead of the _,” Obama said Feb. 15 at a Pentagon event to release the report she spearheaded with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.

As noted in a news story by the American Forces Press Service, the report was produced by the Defense and Treasury departments. It provides a “roadmap” states can use to streamline or expedite licensing procedures for spouses of newly deployed servicemembers in professions that require state licensing, such as teaching, nursing and law.

“We’re not asking any state to change their standards,” Obama said. “These state rules are important, and states have every right to set benchmarks…. But it’s also clear that this system poses very unique challenges for our military families.”

The ABA House of Delegates resolution urges bar admission authorities “to adopt rules, regulations and procedures that accommodate the unique needs of military spouse attorneys who move frequently in support of the nation’s defense,” including:

  • Enacting “admission by endorsement” for military spouse attorneys;
  • Reviewing bar application and admission procedures to ensure that they are not unduly burdensome to military spouse attorneys;
  • Encouraging mentorship programs to connect military spouse attorneys with local members of the bar; and
  • Offering reduced bar application and membership fees to military spouse attorneys who are new to the jurisdiction or who no longer reside in the jurisdiction but wish to retain bar membership.

“Through the adoption of this Resolution, the ABA articulates its support of military families within the profession by welcoming those attorneys relocating as a result of military orders, while at the same time maintaining a high standard of professionalism and proficiency,” the background report accompanying the new policy states.


Comments (3)

  • Phil Santros
    5:58 PM February 17, 2012

    Never thought of this before, makes sense to me.

  • Ashley M
    12:34 PM February 21, 2012

    As a military spouse that is a practicing attorney, I greatly applaud you for passing this resoultion. I cannot tell you how stressful it is to not only move around, but also try to find myself a job and be properly licensed. Thank you so much and here’s hoping that states actually move forward with this idea.

  • Mary Ellen Stumpf
    4:20 PM March 20, 2012

    I think state reciprocity requirements should be relaxed for all attorneys. They operate to impede career development and are particularly unfair to spouses or primary care givers. Most states have a “full time practice” requirement for admission on motion. These rules are not rational or justified in today’s practice. The rules harm many women (not just military spouses – male or female), since women are more often the primary care takers in families.