In Shadow of Sequester, Military Spouse Attorneys use Advocacy Skills to Get Much-Needed Help to Advance Military Family Needs

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In the days leading up to Memorial Day, the Military Spouse JD Network is experiencing a flood of last-minute support for their upcoming event at Washington D.C.'s Army and Navy Club this Wednesday May 22. The Grassroots startup has attracted the attention of Joining Forces, Congressional supporters, and the US Chamber of Commerce. In the shadow of cuts to vital military family services, nonprofits like MSJDN are stepping in to fill the gap and find creative ways to move forward.

Military Spouse Attorneys

We're strong because we're made up of over 700 attorneys. But we're unstoppable because we're military spouses.

Major General William Suter, Clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court, and Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick will speak Wednesday, May 22, to the Military Spouse JD Network in support of military spouses.

In 2011 military spouse Mary Reding wondered how many more bar exams she'd have to take while following her husband across the country. Attempting to change the rules for military spouses, she reached out to her peers looking to ensure some career success through networking. What started as a Facebook group designed to connect military spouse attorneys has now turned into a 750-member powerhouse of change for military families. In response, the Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN) has announced the formation of a new foundation to create a force of lawyers who are well-educated and primed to serve nationwide. Nonprofit provisional status for the Military Spouse JD Foundation has been granted and is awaiting approval from the IRS.

As the only bar association for military spouse attorneys, MSJDN’s focus is shifting outward in order to help alleviate burdens military families are feeling in the shadow of automatic budget cuts and force-wide drawdowns. “We enjoyed such intense success for military spouse attorneys that we started to look outward to the rest of our military family. We’ve been inundated with requests for assistance and realized that if we educated our attorneys, we could use our natural talents and connections to help fill the gaps for military families created by tightening budgets,” says MSJDN founder Mary Reding.

Reding is fond of MSJDN members and their unrelenting spirit: “We're strong because we're made up of over 700 attorneys. But we're unstoppable because we're military spouses.”

MSJDN’s original mission was to change the laws in all 50 states to allow reciprocity for military spouse attorneys, a challenge they've met with great success. Arizona, Idaho, Texas, and North Carolina have all adopted rule changes or policies that support military spouse attorneys, with another dozen states in the pipeline. Ever since the group received support from the Conference of Chief Justices and the American Bar Association in the form of resolutions urging changes to state rules, their nationwide efforts have gained even more momentum. They’ve also received encouragement from Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden’s Joining Forces Initiative to continue their licensing efforts on behalf of military spouse attorneys.

The Military Spouse JD Foundation announcement will be made on May 22 at the Army & Navy Club in Washington, D.C., during a program for attorneys entitled "Making the Right Moves." In keeping with the Foundation’s focus on education and the Network’s focus on career development, awards will be given for both professionalism and service.

The event includes:

  • an education session for military spouse attorneys co-sponsored by American University Washington College of Law;
  • an awards luncheon featuring Gen. William Suter, former TJAG of the U.S. Army and Clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court, with a special address about federal legislation that supports military families from Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick; and
  • an evening networking event co-sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce and attended by national civic leaders and business owners.

The event will take place:

May 22, 2013
The Army and Navy Club on Farragut Square
901 Seventeenth Street, NW
Washington, D.C.

The schedule includes:

0800 Member Registration
0900 Attorney Education Sessions: Creating Vision & Goals
1200 Awards Luncheon, Speakers Gen. William Suter (Ret) and Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz)
1330 Attorney Education Session: The Art of Execution
1800 Networking reception with U.S. Chamber of Commerce and national leaders in business, government, and non-profit

Sponsors of the event in addition to the US Chamber of Commerce and American University Washington College of Law include USAA and Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP. Additional details concerning the event can be obtained via http://www.msjdn.org/rightmoves.

About MSJDN: The Military Spouse JD Network is an international network of legal professionals working to improve the lives of military families. They are composed of over 750 members, including spouses of active duty and retired Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine, and Navy servicemembers, as well as Reserve and National Guard spouses. Formed in 2011, they offer networking and mentoring opportunities to members and provide a support network for addressing the unique challenges faced by military families. They can be found at http://www.msjdn.org

About MSJDF: The Military Spouse JD Foundation is MSJDN’s new nonprofit education foundation, dedicated to helping military spouse attorneys develop their careers and educate members about military family assistance programs. Those interested in assisting with the development of programs for MSJDF should email foundation(at)msjdn(dot)org.

To request interviews from MSJDN President Mary Reding or to obtain media passes for the luncheon with Gen. Suter and Congresswoman Kirkpatrick, contact MSJDN Communications Director Lori Volkman at Lori.Volkman@msjdn.com or (360) 521-7555.

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Lori Volkman
Communications Director Milspouse JD Network
(360) 521-7555
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Mary Reding
President and Founding Member Milspouse JD Network
(937) 609-4549
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