Plan to Help Military Families from Reps. Wittenberg, Maturen Clears the House

Plan lets military spouses who are attorneys transfer bar privileges to Mich.
Thursday, September 22, 2016

LANSING — State Representatives Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park) and David Maturen (R-Vicksburg) said they are pleased that their two-bill bipartisan package, House Bills 5288-89, passed the House today. Their legislation is intended to help families of military service members. The bills would allow military spouses who are attorneys admitted to the bar in other states or U.S. territories to be admitted to the Michigan Bar without taking the state bar examination if they meet certain requirements.

“Those who serve in the military make enormous sacrifices for their country, and so do their families,” Rep. Wittenberg said. “Our proposal would help military spouses who work as attorneys in other states to continue their careers here when their husbands or wives are transferred to our state. Military families move frequently, and it only makes sense to help military spouses keep working when their family is transferred here in Michigan.”

“Military families are frequently asked to pick up their lives and move,” Rep. Maturen said. “Unfortunately, that often means the careers of military spouses take a back seat while their husband or wife serves our country. I know from personal experience how difficult this can be; when I was in the Army my wife had a teaching degree she wasn’t able to fully utilize because of my active duty service.”

Under the proposal, a spouse could apply for admission to the bar in Michigan, without examination, if he or she meets the following:

  • The attorney’s spouse is a member of the armed forces of the United States who is on active duty and assigned to a duty station in this state.
  • The attorney has passed the bar examination in another state and is licensed to practice law in the court of last resort, and in good standing at the bar of another state in the United States, the District of Columbia, or a territory of the United States.
  • The attorney has the qualifications as to moral character, citizenship, age, general education, fitness and ability required for admission to the Michigan Bar.
  • The attorney has not previously taken and failed the examination to the bar of this state
  • The attorney is a graduate of a law school that was approved and accredited by the council and accreditation committee of the section of legal education and admission of the American Bar Association at the time he or she graduated

“Attorneys only have two opportunities each year to sit for the Michigan Bar, making it time-consuming and difficult for military spouses who are attorneys to keep working once their spouse is stationed in Michigan,” Rep. Wittenberg said. “While their loved one is busy serving and protecting our country, the very least we can do is make it easier for them to continue their work and help them provide for their families.”