Five years ago, on April 1, 2011, I knew only two other military spouse attorneys like me: lawyers who moved every two to three years to a new state, with a new set of licensing requirements, and no professional contacts. I thought we were alone in this struggle to work as attorneys while married to our service member spouses. Then, in the summer of 2011, my father met MSJDN founding member Mary Reding Smith at a Texas lawyers’ event. Mary’s story echoed mine, and she inspired me to join her vision of a network of military spouse attorneys, working to change the world.
Now, five years later, I stand in awe of what MSJDN has accomplished. Military spouse attorneys are no longer alone on our journey. MSJDN has become the premier virtual bar association for our community, due to the hard work and tenacity of our many volunteer members. We have gone from being a small group of lawyers sharing questions via email, to an established non-profit 501(c)(6) with almost 700 dues-paying members. We have bar license accommodations in 18 jurisdictions with many more states pending approval. MSJDN hosts a robust jobs board and hiring network, and an award-winning pro bono project supporting Gold Star families. We get it all done with a group of incredible volunteer leaders who serve on our Board, our 501(c)(3) Foundation, our Writers’ Corps, and our committee staffs.
Along the way, MSJDN has developed a national reputation for excellence. As we celebrate our 5th anniversary, we are thrilled to receive the American Bar Association 2016 Grassroots Advocacy Award at an April 20th ceremony in Washington DC. The Advocacy Award is a tremendous recognition of the many MSJDN members who have worked tirelessly these last five years for military spouse attorneys across the globe. Check out the details on our blog.
All of these accomplishments would be remarkable enough, but our MSJDN surveys tell us that the number one reason we are successful is because we offer our members a powerful and supportive network. We have created the only space of its kind for milspouse lawyers to share questions, ideas, opportunities, and friendship. Our online forums are supportive and informative places to learn about new duty stations and employers, connect with local lawyers, compare advice on interviews and resumes, and discuss professional goals.
I am incredibly proud of what MSJDN members–working alongside our amazing “civilian” supporters–have achieved in five years. We hope you will join us as we celebrate our 5th Anniversary at the Annual Reception in Washington DC on May 12th. It will be a celebration to remember! More information and tickets are available here.
All the best,