Communications: There’s never a dull day on the Communications Committee! From updating our social media sites (check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) to pitching stories to the press to making sure members are kept up to date via the newsletter, blog, and emails, the Communications Committee works hard to keep members and supporters in the loop on the amazing work being done by the other committees. The Writers Corps, Newsletter Editor, Social Media and Blog Managers, and other volunteers spent hours writing, editing, posting, and sharing – all with the goal of bringing awareness to MSJDN’s mission of serving military spouses in the legal profession. Much of last year was also spent rebuilding the website to increase functionality. A public directory was added to allow supporters to easily find military spouse attorneys for their legal needs; a jobs board was created for easy sharing of opportunities by members and supporters; and other features like the blog and calendar were updated. Behind the scene, our infrastructure was expanded to allow MSJDN volunteers to do their jobs from around the globe with ease. A new membership management system was installed, allowing volunteers to streamline their work managing dues, donations, and events. The Committee is always looking for a few good volunteers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested!
Finance: The Finance Committee is pleased to report that MSJDN and the Foundation were both within budget for the 2015-2016 year. The committee worked this year on reimbursements for board members and volunteers traveling to events on behalf of MSJDN, including those involving state rule change efforts. Membership dues were collected through Paypal without issue and using the Square app made payments at the door a breeze for MSJDN events. The Finance Committee will continue to work with the Membership Committee to remind members to update their accounts with current contact information and to ensure prompt collection of appropriate dues. Questions about Finance? Email email@example.com.
Governance: The Governance Committee strived hard over the last year to give our governing documents (Articles, Bylaws, Policies, and Procedures, etc.) a refresh. Paula Goedert, an amazing non-profit attorney and partner at Barnes and Thornburg in Chicago, volunteered her time to advise us on how best to revamp our corporate structure. The Board and Foundation now have more streamlined governance, with an intentionally identical board makeup. This will allow our officers and directors to focus on what is important: the mission of MSJDN. The Foundation is our 501(c)(3) arm and operates under the Network, our 501(c)(6) business league. We have updated the name of the Foundation to the Military Spouse JD Network Foundation and implemented a fresh Policies and Procedures which will guide our leaders and allow consistency and transparency in managing the organizations.
Membership: The Membership Committee was hard at work this year, expanding support and resources for members in a variety of ways. MSJDN’s first ever t-shirt fundraising campaign was a great success earning almost $1,000 and providing members with a way to share their milspouse attorney pride! The Membership Committee successfully executed several critical programs, including the Annual Survey and monthly webinars. Homefront to Hired operated under the committee’s guidance, sharing opportunities on the jobs board and connecting with employers committed to military spouse hiring. MSJDN members were also treated to several new discounts, including offers from Legal Services Link, Inter Alia Attorneys, Rocket Matter, Talks on Law, and Curo Legal. Have an idea or suggestion for the Membership team? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pro Bono: MSJDN’s pro bono initiative, Justice for Military Families, had an incredible year while we continued to strengthen the relationship with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors! To date, JMF has placed over sixty cases, connecting Gold Star families with the legal assistance they require in their emotional and difficult transition. The newly restructured committee currently has eighteen MSJDN members working on fantastic new initiatives, including the creation of an online library of the laws commonly affecting the families we work with. JMF has also received wonderful recognition this year! We were the winner of the 2016 National Conference of Bar Foundations/LexisNexis Partnerships for Success Award and received a $1,500 grant as part of that award. We were also recognized by the National Conference of Women’s Bar Association with an Honorable Mention in the Outstanding Member Program Award. We will be officially presented with both awards in August in San Francisco. Please feel free to contact Gabriela Nostro, Director of Justice for Military Families, at JMF@msjdn.org to learn more about the pro bono committee and how to get involved!
State Licensing: As we celebrate five years of MSJDN, we can celebrate the addition of six more to our list of states with law licensing accommodations for military spouse attorneys. The most recent, South Carolina, was approved just in time for us to make the announcement at the ABA Day ceremony where MSJDN received the ABA Grassroots Advocacy Award for our leadership in state licensing issues. For inspiration and to understand how vital the ABA has been to MSJDN’s success, watch Mary Reding’s wonderful speech from that night. The other jurisdictions include Indiana, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Oregon. As much as I would like to take credit for these successes, I can’t. The process of proposing, building support for, and eventually passing a rule change takes years and many people, which is why credit is due to past leader Rachel Winkler, as well as our amazing state level Directors and the networks of support they’ve built in the states. The work they have done will impact military spouse attorneys for years to come and has positioned MSJDN as a national expert in military family issues. We are optimistic that we will soon see success in a handful of other states, including Alaska, Kansas, West Virginia, Florida, Connecticut, and Michigan.
Connecticut: Thanks to incredible support from the Connecticut Bar Association leadership and its Veterans’ and Military Affairs Section, the Superior Court Rules Committee will consider a military spouse law licensing accommodation at its next meeting in later summer.
Kansas: After much deliberation, the Kansas Board of Law Examiners sent their report regarding military spouse licensing to the Supreme Court. We anticipate a public comment period, and will update with more details soon.
West Virginia: MSJDN filed a comment with the West Virginia Supreme Court on the pending military spouse law licensing accommodation there. MSJDN supports the rule, but objects to the requirement that the attorney notify clients that they are admitted under the military spouse rule.
Michigan: The State Bar of Michigan Board of Governors voted to support pending legislation that would allow military spouse attorneys to practice when stationed in Michigan. You can track the legislation here, and if you are a Michigan resident, please reach out to your state representative and ask them to support the bill.
We are only successful with our volunteer State Directors! State Directors lead our licensing accommodation efforts by educating the local legal community about the challenges faced by military families. Our Directors identify and reach out to stakeholders, facilitate one-on-one meetings and large presentations on behalf of MSJDN, and make the case for the temporary licensing of military spouse attorneys. The requirements are a passion for supporting military spouse attorneys, the ability to make a cold call with zero fear, and an interest in serving on a great team. We are looking for leaders in Arkansas, Missouri, Michigan, Connecticut, and West Virginia. If you’re interested in offering your assistance or leadership with state licensing efforts, or if you’d like to connect with a State Director, email email@example.com.