In December 2012, Arizona State Rule 38(i) was issued, allowing qualified attorneys married to servicemembers stationed in the state to apply for admission to Arizona bar without examination. This support from the Arizona legal community acknowledges that military spouses should be given the opportunity to work and contribute to the community while in the state due to military assignment. We are excited to bring you the story of Rachel Schafer, the first military spouse admitted until Rule 38(i).

rachelRachel was a notes editor for the Vanderbilt Law Review and a judicial intern for the Honorable Sarah Evans Barker in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. After graduating from Vanderbilt with her J.D., Rachel successfully navigated the Indiana bar exam and was admitted to practice in that state. She began working in private practice in Indianapolis, focusing on commercial litigation.

While Rachel was working in Indianapolis, her husband, an Air Force pilot, was stationed in South Korea. Because she had just passed the bar and started practicing in Indianapolis, Rachel decided to live remotely from her husband, a tough decision made by almost half of MSJDN members in order to maintain a legal career despite the geographic instability that comes with the military lifestyle.

Following his tour in South Korea, Rachel’s husband received orders to Tucson, AZ. Fortunately for Rachel, she was able to find a position at Quarles & Brady LLP as a member of their Commercial Litigation Practice Group, working in both their Tucson and Indianapolis offices. But she dreaded the thought of having to take yet another bar exam in order to practice in Arizona! For military spouses who move every two to three years on average, the time and costs of obtaining additional licenses to practice can be a significant barrier to employment.

When Rachel’s husband told her about the military spouse licensing rule in Arizona, she did even believe the good news at first! After investigating the rule, Rachel submitted her application in mid-September 2014. By the end of November 2014, she had received her admission certificate. Rachel says her overall experience with the process was “positive” and she encourages others to take advantage of the waiver.

Rachel’s thoughts on the Rule 38(i) application process:

  • Start by contacting the Arizona bar to obtain the military spouse application, as it is not yet available on the website.
  • Make sure the references you provide respond to the bar’s inquiry! Your application will not be moved forward without their responses. It’s a very straightforward request, but your reference must return it in order for your application to be processed.
  • The application itself is not overly time-consuming or invasive like some other states, but you are required to list your addresses and employment for the past 10 years (or following your 21st birthday if less than 10 years ago).
  • The application does not refer to an Arizona fingerprint card, but you will be required to provide one. Rachel suggests taking care of it in advance and including it with your application. They can be obtained for $5 at any police station in the state. For those applying before arriving in the state, this is an important detail to work out!
  • An official law school transcript, not a copy, must be provided with your application.
  • Because Rachel is the first to utilize the rule, some of the details as to how exactly the rule will be implemented are still being worked out. Rachel suggests communicating with the Arizona Supreme Court, as well as the bar, to make sure all your requirements, fees, etc. are received and processed by the correct personnel. 

MSJDN President Rachel Winkler, an Arizona native and member of the state’s bar, said, “I am ecstatic to see my home state offer meaningful support for military spouse attorneys by reducing barriers to employment. The message of support for military families from the legal community is fantastic.” MSJDN congratulates Rachel Schafer on her admission to the Arizona bar and thanks the state for its continuing support of professional military spouses.

Questions about MSJDN’s licensing efforts? Email