Happy Holidays from MSJDN!
This holiday season, your board is reflecting on the banner year we had in 2021 and the exciting things in store for 2022!
- On June 15, 2021, MSJDN celebrated its Tenth Anniversary! It was the work of hundreds of volunteers that built MSJDN into the force it is today. Just before the anniversary, MSJDN revealed our updated logo which contains six pillars representing each branch of military service. We also launched our new website and operating system that will allow MSJDN to better interact with our members and enhance our information management.
- Member engagement has been a highlight this year, despite the pandemic. Our membership numbers have reached record heights, which is a testament of the power of the military spouse attorney network. In October, we hosted our second all-virtual Making the Right Moves conference and saw record attendance. We were able to bring in more sponsors this year to offer scholarships and give free attendance to all MSJDN law student members.
- As part of our growth last year, MSJDN committed to prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA) within the legal profession. Our DEIA committee has continued to grow this year, and in 2022 MSJDN will add a board-level Diversity Director! This committee will help MSJDN evaluate all future policies and guide our mission.
- State Licensing is a cornerstone of MSJDN’s mission. During 2021, we achieved new licensing policies in New Hampshire and Iowa and we’ve made huge progress in New Mexico! We have only nine more states to go with efforts underway in Montana, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. We are also revisiting state rules with harmful supervision requirements. The state licensing committee is pursuing a petition in Virginia to revise its military spouse rule and will continue to petition the eight other states with supervision policies. Additionally, efforts are underway in Kentucky to waive bar fees for military spouses to allow them to maintain their licenses even when they’re out of the state–a privilege extended to active duty attorneys.
- We all know that licensing is only half the battle, so MSJDN has also been hard at work on military spouse employment initiatives. We hosted a job fair as part of our Making the Right Moves conference and plan to host other similar events in the coming year. The Homefront to Hired committee is also working with LinkedIn to develop resources and training specifically for military spouse attorneys searching for work or looking to expand their network. Our federal government hiring committee has also been extremely active, with several webinars in the works and continuing support for initiatives that eliminate barriers to military spouse employment. Lastly, MSJDN launched the Military Spouses Representing Vets Fellowship in partnership with the Veterans Legal Advocacy Group. Two military spouse attorney fellows are already employed advocating for veterans before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and we look forward to onboaring two more in 2022.
- MSJDN’s Foundation is committed to continuing MSJDN’s pro bono work and our mission to give back to the military community. This year, Justice for Military Families connected 43 Gold Star Families with low or pro bono legal services thanks to the tireless efforts of the 15 volunteers required to run the program. JMF has also been expanding its reach by partnering with new organizations like Phil Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International, Operation Foxhole, and the ABA Lamp Pro Bono Project to place more cases.
- On top of MSJDN’s record year of fundraising and partnership building, we were awarded our largest grant to date: a $260k sub-award from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families as part of a Community Navigator grant from the Small Business Administration. Through this grant, MSJDN will be providing legal services to veteran small business owners and the bulk of the grant money will be passed through to MSJDN members to provide services to these veterans, who will receive help at no cost to them. This grant not only means better legal services for the military community, it also creates business streams for MSJDN members who are themselves entrepreneurs!
- Finally, to help usher us into the next decade, MSJDN is hiring our first ever Executive Director! The position is part-time, fully remote, and totally flexible. The Executive Director will be the glue that connects all of our volunteers and efforts and helps MSJDN continue to expand our mission.
THANK YOU for being a part of this astounding community! Your support and your voices are essential to our success as we champion military spouse attorneys, Gold Star Families, veterans, and our military community as a whole.
Cheers to Ten Years and Cheers to Many More!