Editor’s Note: This is the fifth installment in MSJDN’s series highlighting the employers MSJDN members say are going above and beyond for military spouse attorneys. Each employer in this series was nominated for MSJDN’s Member’s Choice Award by members who told us in their own words just how awesome their employers are. MSJDN is thrilled to tell these employer stories, as a way of expressing our gratitude for supporting military spouses as they build careers in the legal profession.
The MSJDN Member’s Choice winner will be announced at MSJDN’s Annual Reception in Washington D.C. on May 7.
Career progression and portability are enormous concerns for military spouse attorneys. Getting licensed, finding employment, and growing a network in an unfamiliar city are daunting challenges, which get even more complicated when your new duty station is overseas (OCONUS). Spousal employment during OCONUS assignments can be severely limited by the remote geographical location, time zone differences, and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in place with that particular country. And yet, OCONUS tours are often necessary for the advancement of a service members career and provide unparalleled opportunities for traveling and experiencing other cultures.
When MSJDN member Jeanne McLaine PCS’d to Naples, Italy with her husband in 2006, she was excited and hoped to find meaningful employment on base. Unfortunately, there were no opportunities at the time. But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens.
Lauren Weiner started a firm – Wittenberg Weiner Consulting, LLC – in 2004, when she left Washington, DC and her job at the Office of Management and Budget to accompany her husband to Naples, Italy; Donna Huneycutt, an attorney stationed in Naples with her active duty submariner husband, helped Lauren found the firm and worked with Lauren on their first contract. Soon after, Jeanne met Lauren, and was WWC’s first employees outside of the two founders.
WWC is headquartered in Tampa, FL, but has employees positioned all over the globe. The firm “supports US Federal agencies in the areas of mission management, strategic communications, regulatory compliance, metrics, policy design, financial management, budget design and execution, and legislative affairs,” including leveraging their analysts to “support change and mission management, continuous process improvement, government finance, AT/FP policy, emergency management, manpower and ERP” not only at OCONUS bases, but now throughout CONUS, as well.
While Jeanne was first hired as an Analyst working for a government client, she now serves as WWC’s Assistant General Counsel. Jeanne explains that “WWC has always been exceptionally understanding of the challenges that come with being a military spouse attorney — they have always been willing to work with me to ensure that I can continue working while also dealing with the unique stresses of military life.”
WWC has employed and currently employs other military spouse attorneys, as well. Jeanne explained that WWC might not always be able to employ milspouse attorneys in a legal capacity, but that “WWC does provide opportunities for military spouse attorneys to work as Analysts for government clients, particularly on military installations overseas,” where typical legal employment opportunities may be few and far between. The experience WWC’s analysts gain working for these government clients provide an excellent springboard to federal or other employment.
WWC’s leaders are deeply committed to military spouse employment. Its President (Lauren Weiner) and Executive Vice President (Donna Huneycutt) founded and serve on the board of In Gear Career, a non-profit organization that works to promote and advance the employment, career development and networking opportunities for military spouses across all professional occupations. IGC, in conjunction with MSJDN, sponsored Homefront Rising earlier this year, and IGC and MSJDN work closely to advocate for military spouse employment issues.
WWC’s commitment to providing meaningful employment to military spouse attorneys wherever they may be stationed makes the firm an excellent candidate for the MSJDN Members’ Choice Award.