Editor’s Note: This is the first in a monthly series called “Resource Spotlight.” This Q&A provides information about nonprofit organizations who serve military spouses and their families. The purpose is to connect military spouses with available resources designed to help them thrive in their careers and military life.
Name of your organization: Military Spouse JD Network
The Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN) was formed in 2011 by 2 military spouses frustrated with the challenges of maintaining a legal career that seemed incompatible with the military lifestyle. They created MSJDN to advocate for licensing accommodations for military spouses, including bar membership without additional examination, as well as network with other military spouses with JDs. Since 2011, the membership of MSJDN has swelled to over 1,000 members and supporters. In February 2012, with the support of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, the ABA House of Delegates adopted a resolution supporting changes in state licensing rules for military spouses with law degrees. MSJDN supports such a rule change in each jurisdiction and has succeeded in enacting licensing accommodations in 9 states to date, with 14 other states currently considering licensing proposals for military spouse attorneys.
Who is the founder?
Mary Reding Smith, Esq.
When was it founded? June 14, 2011
Please describe the mission of your organization:
The Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN) connects military spouse attorneys with support from each other, the military community, and the legal field. A complicated patchwork of regulations regarding legal practice makes a legal career difficult due to the frequent moves and other demands of the military lifestyle. MSJDN has successfully changed bar admission rules in 9 states to make it easier for military spouse attorneys to maintain a career as they PCS with their service members, and efforts are underway in many other jurisdictions to do the same. The group provides mentoring, education, and networking opportunities to encourage military spouse attorneys to persevere. MSJDN also encourages members to volunteer within their military communities using their legal knowledge through its pro bono program, Justice for Military Families.
What services does your organization provide?
MSJDN provides support to military spouse attorneys through a job bank, networking forum, and professional development opportunities through legal volunteer work specific to the military community. MSJDN has successfully supported licensing accommodations for military spouse attorneys in 9 states and is currently working on similar rules in 14 other jurisdictions. MSJDN also encourages the hiring of military spouses and educates the public on the challenges faced by military families.
MSJDN also offers legal services to military families. Funded by a grant from Newman’s Own Foundation, Justice for Military Families connects military families with legal needs to pro bono legal help from MSJDN’s network of military spouse attorneys. The first partner in this effort is Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). MSJDN and TAPS are partnering to fill the legal needs of families who have paid the ultimate price for freedom.
What population(s) do you serve (spouses, veterans, military children, etc.)? Military spouses and families.
How can NextGen MilSpouse readers support your organization? MSJDN welcomes military spouse attorneys and supporters to join the network at www.msjdn.org and stay informed through the blog at www.msjdn.org/blog.
Do you need financial support/volunteers? Donate on our website.
Does your nonprofit organization serve military spouses? Are you looking to spread the word?
Send an email to NextGen MilSpouse Content Editor Michelle Volkmann at michelle<at>msbnewmedia<dot>com to find out how your organization can be a future Resource Spotlight.