Nebraska is home to Offutt Air Force Base, headquarters of the U.S. Strategic Command, the Air Force Weather Agency, and the 55th Wing of the Air Combat Command, as well as several National Guard and recruiting posts. The legal community in the state has long embraced support for servicemembers and their families, through a robust Military Law Section of the state bar and initiatives such as the Veterans Legal Support Network.
That support is reflected in the recent military spouse attorney licensing proposal from the Nebraska Supreme Court, which offers expedited processing and a significantly reduced fee for military spouses who qualify under portions of the existing attorney admission rules.
While MSJDN celebrates the support provided by the pending proposal, we believe adoption of the Model Rule for Admission of Military Spouse Attorneys (model rule) is needed to truly meet the unique needs of military spouse attorneys. Military families move often – 79 percent have moved in the past five years; 50 percent have moved twice in the same time span. Licensure after each move can take up to a year and cost thousands of dollars. And licensure is only half the battle – the job search is its own struggle! Repeating this process every few years, often with little notice of the move, proves challenging even for the most determined military spouse attorney. These barriers keep qualified and capable spouses out of the workforce, at significant cost to the economy as well as the families already facing financial stress due to law school loans and lost income, all while bearing the burden of deployments and separation. The MSJDN model rule helps reduce these barriers by allowing admission for an attorney already admitted and in good standing in another jurisdiction who is also a dependent spouse of a U.S. servicemember on active duty orders in Nebraska.
The proposal as it currently exists with the Nebraska Supreme Court provides a pathway to admission for military spouse attorneys who meet one of two requirements:
- The military spouse must have been actively and substantially engaged in the practice of law for 3 of the last 5 years upon application; or
- The military spouse must provide a qualifying score no more than 3 years old from another jurisdiction equivalent to the Nebraska bar examination.
Under this proposal, all other military spouse attorneys would be left without accommodation and required to take an additional bar exam (offered only twice a year) before they can be employed as attorneys.
Military spouse attorneys are often unable to qualify under time-based rules because frequent relocations, overseas tours, remote assignments, and similar licensing barriers in other states make it difficult to accrue the required years in practice. And while some are often admitted in multiple states, they may not have a recent enough bar exam score to utilize for admission. Adoption of the MSJDN model rule would remove these barriers and provide support for more military spouses in the legal profession.
Additionally, the MSJDN model rule provides for a temporary license rather than permanent admission. Some military spouse attorneys are licensed in as many as six different jurisdictions, incurring substantial annual licensing fees along with the costs of continuing education. A temporary license affords military spouses the opportunity to continue their careers while in the jurisdiction, but does not place a financial burden on the spouse after leaving the state to continue serving alongside their servicemember at the next duty station.
How can you help?
Contact the Nebraska Supreme Court by December 1st requesting that the MSJDN Model Rule be adopted! Here’s how:
- in writing to the office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, P.O. Box 98910, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-8910; or
- via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone and everyone can submit a comment, but if you’re…
- Barred in Nebraska: Please include your status as a member of the State Bar along with your support for the model rule.
- Living in Nebraska as a military spouse attorney: Share your story as a military spouse attorney and how the MSJDN model rule would help you.
- Practicing elsewhere on a military spouse attorney license: If you are practicing on a military spouse license in another state, please share how the rule has helped you.
You can also share this story with your network using the “sharing” buttons below and ask them to submit a comment in support of adopting the MSJDN model rule.