Earlier this week, the state licensing team finally received an update, albeit a bittersweet one, on the long awaited Virginia Rule amendment regarding the removal of the local counsel supervision requirement under Rule 1A:8, Military Spouse Provisional Admission. Despite two rounds of comments over an almost two year period and an endorsement of our original amendment from the Virginia State Bar Executive Committee, among many others, the Supreme Court of Virginia modified the rule to lessen, but not remove, the supervision requirement.
The new rule, which goes into effect on February 26, 2022, read in part:
2. Required Evidence. — The applicant for provisional admission must submit evidence satisfactory to the Board that he or she…
(i) been licensed to practice law in any state or territory of the United States or in the District of Columbia for at least five years, has engaged in the active practice of law for a cumulative total of at least three years anytime during the ten-year period preceding the submission of the application for provisional admission, and has made such progress in the practice of law that it would be unreasonable to require the applicant to take an examination, or
(ii) agrees to practice under the supervision of Local Counsel
While MSJDN is grateful that this rule affords milspouse attorneys who have been barred for at least five years with at least three years of cumulative practice experience to waive into the Virginia State Bar without any supervision, we also acknowledge how limiting and burdensome this amended rule continues to be. In the seven years since Rule 1A:8 was passed, less than twenty military spouse attorneys have used the rule. MSJDN has heard from many attorneys that the rule does not work in practice. It dissuades employers from hiring military spouses and it forces practicing military spouse attorneys to make hard choices to not practice, pivot their practice, or even live apart from their servicemember to maintain their careers. As the state with the second largest population of active duty military families, Virginia can and should do more to support working military spouses in the Commonwealth.
Rest assured that as we embark on a new year, MSJDN will continue to advocate for the removal of the supervision requirement for milspouse attorneys in Virginia, ensuring that one day the full intention of the rule will be realized and allow for an easier path to employment for milspouse attorneys in the Commonwealth and the eight other states that hinder working attorneys with similar supervision requirements.
For more information on the amendment, please see https://www.vsb.org/site/news/item/SCV_military_spouse_122821