Today, the New Jersey Supreme Court announced the adoption of Rule 1:27-4, “Temporary Admission of a Military Spouse During Military Assignment in New Jersey.” With this rule, New Jersey becomes the tenth state to show their support for military families through a common-sense accommodation for military spouse attorneys.
“The New Jersey Supreme Court has taken the lead and set the standard for other states with this rule,” said New Jersey State Director Katie McDonough. “This is about keeping families together, and serving the needs of the military community and local legal community.”
“We are overjoyed at the success in New Jersey,” said Jennifer Talley, MSJDN member and New Jersey licensed attorney. “But more than that, we’re humbled by the support we’ve received from the members of the New Jersey bar through this process.”
In January 2013, MSJDN State Director Katie McDonough and Jennifer Talley and submitted the proposed rule to the Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. Since that time and through Jennifer and Katie’s hard work, leaders in the New Jersey bar flooded the court with letters of support for military spouse attorneys and the unique circumstance they face.
The support grew after Jennifer published a piece in the New Jersey Law Journal, outlining the difficulties of building a legal career while married to a member of the Armed Forces. In her argument to her fellow New Jersey attorneys, Jennifer explained, “Caring for active duty service members and their families is something many Americans support, but few understand.” She continues, “In this case, responding to the needs of the relatively few military spouse attorneys who come through New Jersey will give them the opportunity to live with their families while minimizing the inevitable interruptions to their legal careers.”
Seton Hall also featured Jennifer and Katie, as both are alums. Katie told her alma mater how the Court could support military spouse attorneys:
“Michael and I are lucky to work in the same area; we have been the exception to the rule,” said McDonough. “But relocation is a reality for military families. Fellow attorneys who are married to service members should not have to jeopardize their livelihood by living with their spouses, who are ordered to move every two to three years. Rather, it is good policy to allow qualified military spouse attorneys to practice temporarily while in New Jersey due to military orders as long as they are admitted in at least one state and in good standing there.”
In May 2014, Jennifer and Katie were invited to present their petition to the full New Jersey Supreme Court. They had their work cut out for them – they were responding to an unfavorable recommendation from the committee originally tasked with studying the military spouse licensing issue.
On May 27, they presented their arguments, to the court and clearly knocked it out of the park. You can read their presentation here.
“The New Jersey rule brings us one state closer to ensuring license portability for all military spouse attorneys,” said MSJDN President Rachel Winkler. “We are grateful for New Jersey’s support of military families and dedication to addressing military spouse employment issues.”
Rule 1:27-4 as adopted allows admission to the New Jersey bar by qualified military spouse applicants that are employed by a New Jersey licensed attorney, employed by the government (state or federal), or have 5 out of 8 years of experience. The temporary admission expires when the servicemember’s orders in the state end, unless that servicemember receives orders for unaccompanied tour outside of New Jersey. You can read the full rule here.