Two MSJDN members win, move on in Military Spouse of the Year

Congrats to Lori Volkman and Marcelina Chambers! Both were voted Military Spouse of the Year for their installation and have advanced to the next round of voting for Military Spouse of the Year! Lori will be representing NB San Diego and competing for Navy Spouse of the Year, and Marcelina will be representing Davis-Monthan AFB and competing for Air Force Spouse of the Year. Voting for the Branch Spouse of the Year is on Feb. 5 and lasts for one day only. Be ready! 

HeadshotLori is a Navy Reserve spouse, and is competing through Naval Base San Diego. Married to her pilot husband for over 20 years, Lori started a blog in 2010 to document her husband’s deployment — it quickly gained a loyal following. Her ability to see the humor while being honest about the difficulties resonated with military spouses across the country, but also touched working moms and the larger civilian population as well. Her husband has since redeployed, but Lori continues to blog about their struggle with reintegration, as well as current events affecting spouses. Last March, she wrote “An Open Letter to Kari Bales,” a post that encapsulated the military spouse community’s support for the spouse of a soldier accused of killing 16 Afghans. Lori’s writing has been featured in the New York Times At War Blog, WordPress’ “Freshly Pressed,” and in Reader’s Digest. She has appeared in interviews in Newsweek’s Daily Beast, the Department of Defense “Family Matters” Blog, America Online’s Military community and has appeared on CNN, the NBC Nightly News, and the CBS Evening News. She serves as the MSJDN Communications Director, educating state bar associations across the country about why it makes sense to allow military spouse attorneys to have temporary licenses as they move. She is currently working on a book of her deployment stories.

mjsdn msoyMarcelina is an Air Force Spouse currently stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB with her husband of 11 years. They have endured seven (!!) deployments, two of which were during Marcelina’s time in law school. She is an Assistant Attorney General for Arizona in the Child Support section and works to connect the local military community to the office. She is also active in the Junior League of Tucson.  She takes great pride in the many hats she wears — mom, attorney, volunteer, military spouse. Marcelina wrote a great blog post for us about being an attorney and an enlisted spouse.

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Military Spouse of the Year voting starts today, two MSJDN members nominated

Lori Volkman, MSJDN Communications Director and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Washington State, and Marcelina Chambers, MSJDN member and Assistant Attorney General in Arizona, have both been nominated for Military Spouse Magazine’s Military Spouse of the Year.

We wrote about Lori and Marcelina earlier this month, both of them are great advocates for military spouses and MSJDN members. Marcelina wrote a great blog post today about being an attorney and an enlisted spouse. Take a second to read it and weigh in.

The first round of voting is live now and closes at midnight tonight, be sure to have your votes counted!

It’s my choice … isn’t it?

mjsdn msoyMember post by MSJDN member and MSOY nominee Marcelina Rivera-Chambers, Esq.

Longstanding rules within the military typically prohibit officers and members of enlisted ranks from personally associating outside of their duties and orders. There are good reasons for these rules prohibiting fraternization – they prevent even the appearance that someone may be using their rank or friendship in an unfair manner. No one wants to perceive that they were passed over for promotion or a good assignment because of a personal relationship the commander might have with a certain NCO.

However, these rules can make personal connections or relationships difficult for spouses of servicemembers – especially when a spouse’s colleagues generally come from the officer corps. As a spouse, we are not constrained by the same limitations. At the same time, our family comes first. This is MSJDN member Marcelina’s story. Marcelina has been nominated for 2013 Military Spouse of the Year – voting starts today, go vote for her here.

Choice. Freewill. Association. These are just a few of the rights we enjoy every day as Americans. As an enlisted Air Force spouse, however, I am not always privy to those same rights. Personally speaking, I often enjoy associating and networking with other attorneys, both civilian and military (a.k.a. JAG). While it’s one thing to be an enlisted spouse, it’s a whole other story when you add attorney to the mix. Let’s just say my social network of attorney friends is civilian only.

I have been a military spouse for over 11 years, and have been a licensed attorney for almost 2. As an enlisted military spouse-attorney, I can’t honestly say that I have experienced any social discrimination based upon my husband’s rank and my career. What I have experienced, however, is a lack of freewill and the feeling that a choice has already been made for me.

As a military spouse, I follow my husband’s lead; if there’s a rule he must follow, I too, will follow when the rule potentially affects us as a family. That’s my choice. The military is a structured unit and that includes all ranks adhering to the rule of “no fraternization.”  As a spouse, I do not wear rank, but will always respect my husband’s. Military spouses can hang out as often as they choose and with no barriers. As an enlisted servicemember, however, my husband is prohibited from fraternizing with Officers and this includes social gatherings.  But, as a family, we socialize together and our social gatherings are typically only comprised of enlisted servicemembers. So, what happens when I want to personally connect the two? What if I want to invite a JAG, i.e. a commissioned Officer, and their family over for a party? Well, I can always invite them, but chances are the Officer will not be present because my husband and his enlisted colleagues will be there.  Sure, only the spouse and family might come, but then this creates a division in their home. Of course I can invite the spouse only, but why divide families as the military divides its ranks? Truth is, I would not give the invite to the Officer and their family for those reasons and because my husband will always be present and this breaks the fraternization rule.

So, it’s my choice, right? It’s my choice to follow my husband’s lead? It’s my choice to invite other Officers over, necessarily excluding my husband and his enlisted friends?  It’s my choice to exclude myself from social gatherings and only have one-on-one time with other Officers? It’s my choice to only hang with spouses of Officers, and never commingle our families? My husband has always said he will never tell me I can’t be friends with any Officer and/or their spouse-I get that and I love him for it. But the thing is, I don’t play like that; I don’t play alone, we are a social family and I will always keep it that way. I will not separate my family as the military separates its ranks. But, I knew that was the case the day I said, “I do,” and I will respect that. I don’t have to like it, but I will always respect it.

Regardless of the choices the military has made for us, we, as Americans, are entitled to make our own choices and I have made mine. I choose my family first. I will not separate my family based on my husband’s rank solely because I want my family to commingle with other Officers and their families. My choice? Yes. Will I continue to establish professional relationships with military Officers and their spouses? Absolutely! While I can’t change the military’s fraternization rule, it’s there for a reason and it’s something I choose to continue to live with.

MSJDN is open to all military spouse attorneys, regardless of rank or affiliation. We are charged with representing military spouse attorneys and providing better access to justice for military families.

MSJDN tools: NCBE and ABA Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements

As part of the launch of our new website, we’ve gathered some great tools for MSJDN members in the Sidebar to our blog. Our greatest resource, of course, is each other, so if you know of a great tool to use in your legal job search or in navigating the military life, please let us know and we’ll add it. You will see these resources expand as we discover new tools and grow our library through member feedback.

Over the next several weeks, we will be highlighting some of these resources. Today, we’ll be looking at the National Conference of Bar Examiners and ABA Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements. Every year, the NCBE and ABA team up to release this detail-rich guide to requirements, deadlines, fees, and exam dates for bar admission in each state. This will answer virtually all the questions you have about taking the bar exam in your jurisdiction, and has phenomenal charts comparing requirements and fees nationally. More importantly to military spouse attorneys, this guide will tell you which jurisdictions will allow you admission without having to take the bar exam again, what the general procedure is and how much it will cost. Of course, you will want to confirm those details with the state bar licensing authority in the jurisdiction where you’re requesting admission.

While the Comprehensive Guide is a great resource and saves us hours of researching bar admission procedures for jurisdictions we may be moving to, it’s no substitute for the rule change MSJDN advocates for in every jurisdiction. MSJDN has drafted a Model Rule to assist jurisdictions interested in supporting military families by enacting licensing accommodations for military spouses. This rule would allow military spouse attorneys to practice in the jurisdiction if 1) they are in good standing in another jurisdiction and 2) in the state due to military orders.

If you have resources you think should be included on our Sidebar, please leave a comment or email me at josie.beets@gmail.com.

MSJDN launches organization Facebook page

facebook-logoMSJDN has grown in amazing ways over the past eighteen months. We now have over 650 members scattered across the globe, we’ve received the support of numerous organizations, including the ABA and the Conference of Chief Justices. Our private, members-only Facebook group has always been a great forum for spouse-to-spouse conversation about everything from bar exam frustration to interview tips. But it’s time for us present our issues to the world — or at least to Facebook!

Our Facebook page, in addition to the blog and Twitter will help us keep both members and our supporters up to date on the most current MSJDN action. It will be a place where we can share articles and websites of interest to our members and supporters, and they can share the same with us. It will also be a great place for people to come to learn about our work. The private, members-only Facebook group will remain a safe place for members to chat, ask for employment advice and seek bar admission help.

You can find our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MilitarySpouseJDNetwork. We encourage bar associations, legal nonprofits, and all interested organizations to like our page!

Open positions with MSJDN, deadline to apply this Friday

MSJDN is seeking volunteers to fill three open positions in the organization.

Governance Director: Board member. Regularly review and update the board’s statement of roles and areas of responsibility, and define expectations from individual board members. Assists the board in formation of association documents and strategic plan. Leads in assessing current and anticipated needs related to board composition. Determines the knowledge, attributes, skills, abilities, influence, and access to resources the board will need to consider in order to accomplish future work of the organization. Responsible for the nomination of board members, creation of the process for selection, and leads the succession planning.

Membership Chair: Leadership Team. The Membership Chair is responsible for all activities involving the solicitation and maintenance of the active membership and performs various administrative and support duties for the organization. Specific duties include: maintenance of the master membership list in a spreadsheet program, sending welcome email to each new member, and assisting Board members as requested on special events.

Treasurer: Board Member. Works on formation documents of the organization, understand financial accounting for nonprofit organizations, serve as the chair of the Finance Committee, present the annual budget for Board approval, act as the liaison with outside accounting firm.

Please send resume with cover letter detailing experience and interest in the positions to Rachel Winkler, MSJDN Vice President,at rhsacks@gmail.com no later than Friday, January 18th. Interviews will be conducted prior to January 31st and applicants will be notified by February 7th.

Two MSJDN members nominated for Military Spouse of the Year, voting to begin Jan. 22

Lori Volkman, MSJDN Communications Director and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Washington State, and Marcelina Chambers, MSJDN member and Assistant Attorney General in Arizona, have both been nominated for Military Spouse Magazine’s Military Spouse of the Year. Congratulations to both! The first round of voting lasts for only 24 hours on January 22, please vote for both candidates as they not currently directly competing with each other.

Military Spouse of the YearLori is a Navy Reserve spouse, and is competing through Naval Base San Diego. Married to her pilot husband for over 20 years, Lori started a blog in 2010 to document her husband’s deployment — it quickly gained a loyal following. Her ability to see the humor while being honest about the difficulties resonated with military spouses across the country. But her pieces resounded with working moms and the larger civilian population as well. Her husband has since redeployed, but Lori continues to blog about their struggle with reintegration, as well as current events affecting spouses. Last March, she wrote “An Open Letter to Kari Bales,” a post that encapsulated the military spouse community’s support for the spouse of a soldier accused of killing 16 Afghans. Lori’s writing has been featured in the New York Times At War Blog, WordPress’ “Freshly Pressed,” and in Reader’s Digest. She has appeared in interviews in Newsweek’s Daily Beast, the Department of Defense “Family Matters” Blog, America Online’s Military community and has appeared on CNN, the NBC Nightly News, and the CBS Evening News. She is currently working on a book of her deployment stories. I’m not sure she sleeps.

Military Spouse of the YearMarcelina is an Air Force Spouse currently stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB with her husband of 11 years. They have endured seven (!!) deployments, two of which were during Marcelina’s time in law school. She is an Assistant Attorney General for Arizona in the Child Support section and works to connect the local military community to the office. She is also active in the Junior League of Tucson.  She takes great pride in the many hats she wears — mom, attorney, volunteer, military spouse. As a New Orleans Saints fan, she will definitely be getting my vote.

Every year since 2008, Military Spouse Magazine has selected a Military Spouse of the Year.  The winner is chosen through online voting and by a judges’ panel. There are three voting rounds, each to occur over a just a one day period. The first round, Base Voting, is on January 22. Nominations are collected and organized at the base level. The nominee with the highest popular vote at each base will be the respective winner and advance to the branch voting round.

Please join me in congratulating these two amazing spouses and remember to vote on Jan. 22!

– Josie Beets

ARIZONA SUPREME COURT RECOGNIZES SERVICE OF MILITARY SPOUSE ATTORNEYS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MILITARY SPOUSE JD NETWORK
http://www.MilitarySpouseJDNetwork.org
milspouse.bar@gmail.com

ARIZONA SUPREME COURT RECOGNIZES SERVICE OF MILITARY SPOUSE ATTORNEYS

In what makes only the second state approval of a nation-wide effort to remove barriers for military spouse attorney employment, Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch issued a rule authorizing admission of qualified spouses of military service members to the practice of law in Arizona without the need to take the state bar exam, so long as they meet and maintain other competency requirements. The admission is limited to the period of time the military service member is stationed in Arizona.

On December 10, 2012, Arizona State Rule 38(i) was issued, allowing qualified attorneys married to servicemembers to apply for admission without examination, an acknowledgement by the Arizona legal community that although military spouses are in the state only temporarily, they have valuable skills and experience to contribute to the local legal community and should be given the opportunity to do so.

The Military Spouse JD Network, an international organization of military spouse attorneys dedicated to improving the lives of military families, filed the rule change petition in January 2012. Following two rounds of public comments calling on the military and legal communities to offer their support of the Rule, it was approved this month. “MSJDN was proud to lead the rule change effort in Arizona and attributes its passage to a wide base of support from local and state bar leaders and partnerships among military and civilian communities,” notes MSJDN President Mary Reding. “This rule will have a significant impact on the ability for military spouses to maintain their legal careers as they move in support of our nation’s defense.”

Rule 38(i) follows a national trend in recognizing the service of military spouses and follows the support from the American Bar Association and the National Conference of Chief Justices. The Rule will be in effect on January 1, 2013 and after that date military spouse attorneys will be admitted without examination.

A copy of the language of the Rule can be found here.

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If you would like more information about the Military Spouse JD Network, contact milspouse.bar@gmail.com and visit http://www.MilitarySpouseJDNetwork.org.

MSJDN PARTICIPATES IN DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CONFERENCE

On September 27, 2012, Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN) participated in the Department of Defense State Liaison Office (DSLO) Annual Conference. Through their USA 4 Military Families Initiative, DSLO seeks to engage and educate state policymakers, not-for-profit associations, concerned business interests, and other state leaders about the needs of military members and their families. Since the DoD started the office in 2004, over 27 states have passed legislation providing for various types of military spouse licensure accommodations. During the military spouse licensure panel discussion, MSJDN Vice-President, Rachel Winkler shared about current challenges milspouse attorneys face like qualifying for bar licenses, finding meaningful legal opportunities, and maintaining a portable, viable career while accompanying their servicemember spouse to new duty stations. Together, MSJDN and DSLO identified a number of opportunities to partner on rule change efforts that support military families and military spouse attorneys across the country.

DSLO representatives were thrilled to hear about the impressive progress MSJDN has made over the past year since their last conference. MSJDN currently has members in all 50 states and overseas, including over 500 military spouse attorney members. With strong support from veterans, military family organizations, and the legal community, MSJDN members are working on rule change efforts in Arizona, California, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington.

MSJDN Board Member and Blue Star Families Co-founder Laura Dempsey was there to share about the work of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Hiring our Heroes’ Hiring Fairs (for veterans and military spouses) that are happening across the country. Keep an eye out for an event near you.

MSJDN also learned about the successes of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), a DoD resource provided through Military One-Source. MSEP is a targeted recruitment and employment solution for spouses and companies that partners Fortune 500 Plus companies with ALL Military Service, provides human resource (HR) managers with recruitment solutions – military spouses, prepares military spouses to become competitive “job ready” applicants, and connects military spouses with employers seeking the essential 21st century workforce skills and attributes they possess. Over 27,000 military spouses have been hired since MSEP was launched by 2011. There are over 210,000 jobs currently posted on MSEP, including legal opportunities!

Thanks to DSLO for including MSJDN in this important conversation on military spouse licensure issues. MSJDN will continue to advocate for military spouse licensure accommodations – if you are interested in leading the charge or getting involved in efforts already underway in your state, please contact MSJDN Vice-President Rachel Winkler at rhsacks@gmail.com.