Lawyers married to military could bypass bar exam in Florida

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The Florida Bar wants lawyer-spouses of military members stationed in Florida to be able to practice law here without having to take the state bar exam.

The Bar, which regulates the state’s 100,000-plus licensed attorneys, filed its request with the Florida Supreme Court last week. The change would require court approval.

Twenty-three other states, including Texas and New York, “have adopted a military spouse rule,” the Bar’s petition says. It “received no comments in opposition.”

“Due to the unique mobility requirements of military families, lawyers licensed in a jurisdiction other than Florida often have to relocate to Florida with their spouse who is in the military,” the petition explains. “Currently, that lawyer is unable to engage in the practice of law in Florida” without passing the state bar exam.

There were “over 900 military spouse attorneys worldwide as of November 2013,” according to the Military Spouse JD Network.

“Moving to Florida and taking the Florida Bar Examination is often impractical because of the timing of the deployment to Florida and the dates the bar examination is given,” in February and July, and only in Tampa, the Bar’s petition adds.

“The timing issues could result in the military spouse being reassigned before the lawyer spouse is admitted … For these reasons, some lawyer spouses choose to remain in the jurisdiction where they are licensed, splitting families apart while the military spouse is stationed in Florida.”

The new rule “would only apply to lawyers who are spouses of active military personnel stationed in Florida,” and they would be considered Florida lawyers only “during the time their military spouse is stationed in Florida.”

“Although the number of military spouse attorneys is relatively small, the positive impact of this proposed rule on their families will be enormous,” said a report by the Military Spouse JD Network to the Bar.

Its passage “will send a clear message that the Florida legal community encourages the participation of the talented diverse group of military spouse attorneys.”

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


3 comments

  • Glen Gibellina

    February 6, 2017 at 7:50 am

    Why not Doctors without boarders like Remote Area Medical who provide millions of FREE health care to the in insured and under insured
    Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps (RAM) is a Knoxville, Tennessee-based, non-profit, volunteer, airborne medical relief corps that provides free health care, dental care, eye care, veterinary services, and technical and educational assistance to people in remote areas of the United States, and around the world.[1] RAM was founded in 1985 by Stan Brock, who worked as an assistant to Marlin Perkins on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.[2] The group’s work was originally confined to Third World countries, but later shifted towards the US.[3]
    According to RAM, the organization has provided $33,079,038 worth of free health care to 357,368 patients with the help of 36,675 volunteers since its inception.[4][5] Approximately two-thirds of this total is in the USA.[6]
    According to Brock, local licensing requirements for doctors in many states prevent his group from bringing out-of-state doctors to areas where their help is needed. Tennessee is the only state that has an “Open Borders To Doctors” law on its books.[6][7][8]
    Special exemptions have enabled RAM to hold a few clinics outside the state of Tennessee. One of these — in Wise, Virginia — was the largest RAM clinic held to date.[9][10] Held from July 25–27 in 2008, this 3-day clinic had 1,584 volunteers who provided 5,475 treatments to 2,670 patients. The total value of care provided at this single clinic equaled $1,725,418.[11]
    RAM is funded through donations and relies on volunteers from the community, as well as professionals including physicians, dentists, optometrists, nurses, pilots and veterinarians to provide care in poorer communities.
    Isn’t health as important as law?

    • Shan

      February 6, 2017 at 5:51 pm

      But they are Doctor’s who have passed tests for being a Doctor.

  • Lola

    February 7, 2017 at 7:15 am

    Is it a requirement that these individuals have been barred in another jurisdiction prior to practicing in Florida without having taken the bar there?

Comments are closed.


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