“So I can just marry someone in the military and I don’t have to take the bar?”

“I took the bar here, so should everyone else.”

“Just do pro bono.”

“You can be a realtor while you live here.”

These are some of the things that have been said to me over the years by leaders in the legal community as I’ve advocated on behalf of licensing changes for military spouse attorneys. Not very encouraging, right? I know many of you have encountered similar sentiments while networking and applying for jobs in a new community.  It’s pretty soul-crushing to hear these things (no matter how well-meaning the speaker might be) from our colleagues in the legal profession.

I don’t want to paint a completely negative picture – I’ve also witnessed incredible support and understanding from many leaders in our profession.  If it wasn’t for the boldness of some of these leaders, we wouldn’t have our state licensing successes (27 jurisdictions and counting!). And we wouldn’t have a long list of supportive employers.  But what I want to talk about in this month’s letter is the courage of military spouse attorneys.

Courage is defined as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”  It takes courage to conquer the bar exam for a 3rd, 4th, or 5th time. It takes courage to continue putting yourself out there for jobs after repeated rejections.  It takes courage to be the new kid in town (again), yet still rally to introduce yourself to the local attorneys at a bar association event.  It takes courage to walk in to a room full of strangers to advocate for military spouse attorney licensing.  It takes courage to survive yet another deployment while balancing child care with the demands of a legal job.

I’ve witnessed MSJDN members do all of the above.  While we might shy away from the word because we know our servicemembers face much greater challenges, military spouse attorneys are a courageous group! Although we face many of the same difficulties as our colleagues, the difficulty is amplified by relocations, distance from family, training and deployment schedules, and the other unique aspects of military life.  I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve as the leader of an organization full of such inspiring, versatile, and resilient people who refuse to allow the negativity of some to keep us from pursuing our chosen profession.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to connect with other amazing MSJDN members, be sure to check out the calendar.  There are more than 10 events over the next fews months, scheduled from California to Rhode Island and many places in between.  If you don’t see something on calendar near you, contact events@msjdn.org for help organizing a gathering in your neighborhood.

Finally, be sure to save the date for our Annual Reception on May 17th in D.C. It’s a fabulous evening dedicated to celebrating military spouse attorneys and our supporters. Tickets will be coming soon!

Libby Jamison, president@msjdn.org