On March 14th, MSJDN Treasurer Katherine Goyette was witness to a historic bill signing in Lansing, Michigan. Governor Snyder conducted a ceremonial signing of HB 5288 and HB 5289, assigned Public Act 423-424 (2016), granting military spouse attorneys a temporary permit to practice in the state. In doing so, Michigan became the 23rd jurisdiction to adopt a military spouse attorney licensing accommodation and the first to do so by way of legislation.

The new provision provides that a military spouse attorney licensed to practice in another jurisdiction and in good standing, and whose service member spouse is assigned to a duty station in Michigan, may apply for admission without an additional bar examination and practice in the jurisdiction until (1) the service member spouse is no longer on active duty; (2) the military spouse attorney is no longer married to the service member spouse; or (3) the service member spouse receives a permanent change of duty station outside of the state.

The bills were first introduced to the House Committee on Government Operations by Representative Wittenberg, and co-sponsored by Representative David Maturen, on February 2, 2016. Once approved by Government Operations, the bills moved on to the House Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, and then finally the House Committee on the Judiciary. On September 22, 2016, both of the bills passed the Michigan House of Representatives.  On December 8, 2016, MSJDN member Angela Allen traveled from Chicago to Lansing (through a blizzard!) to provide testimony in support of the bills. The bills unanimously passed the Senate on December 14, 2016, and were signed by Governor Snyder into law on January 4, 2017, followed by the ceremonial signing this month.

MSJDN is grateful to so many for their time and dedication to turning this proposal into law. Military spouse attorney Jocelyn Benson first brought the issue of military spouse law licensing and MSJDN’s grassroots efforts to the Michigan legal community while she was Dean of Wayne State Law School.  After MSJDN member Lauren Wittenberg Weiner shared the organization’s mission with her cousin, Representative Wittenberg, he introduced and sponsored the two bills.  We especially thank Representative Robert Wittenberg and his Legislative Director Barbara Winter who worked tirelessly on behalf of these bills and kept MSJDN informed throughout the process.  Our thanks extend also to the support of the many co-sponsors including Representative Maturen, as well as supporters, including the honorable Justice Zahra.

MSJDN members, stay tuned for the April newsletter with Katherine’s personal story of attending the bill signing!