YourABA December 2011 Masthead

Michelle Obama praises new ABA policy on professional licensing for military spouses

At the ABA Midyear Meeting Feb. 6, the association's House of Delegates passed a resolution that encourages bar admission authorities to accommodate lawyers who must move frequently to other states because of their spouses' deployments.

The new ABA policy soon got the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama.

"We're going to urge more national professional associations to follow the lead of the American Bar Association," Obama said.

At the Pentagon on Feb. 15, Obama unveiled a report that offers suggestions for states to streamline or expedite licensing procedures for spouses of newly deployed servicemembers in professions such as teaching, nursing and law.

"We're going to urge more national professional associations to follow the lead of the American Bar Association," Obama said of the effort she spearheaded with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.

The ABA House of Delegates resolution urges bar admission authorities "to adopt rules, regulations and procedures that accommodate the unique needs of military spouse attorneys who move frequently in support of the nation’s defense," including:

  • Enacting “admission by endorsement” for military spouse attorneys;
  • Reviewing bar application and admission procedures to ensure that they are not unduly burdensome to military spouse attorneys;
  • Encouraging mentorship programs to connect military spouse attorneys with local members of the bar; and
  • Offering reduced bar application and membership fees to military spouse attorneys who are new to the jurisdiction or who no longer reside in the jurisdiction but wish to retain bar membership.

"Through the adoption of this Resolution, the ABA articulates its support of military families within the profession by welcoming those attorneys relocating as a result of military orders, while at the same time maintaining a high standard of professionalism and proficiency," the background report accompanying the new policy states.

Information on other ABA resolutions is available on the House of Delegates Results webpage on ABANow.org.

Additional resources:

"Military Spouses Campaign for Increased Employment Opportunities" (video)

"ABA Passes Policy Supporting Military Spouses in Legal Profession" (video)

Video of Pentagon event on military spouse licensing (video)

ABA Home Front: Legal Resources for Military Families

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