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Court allows provisional law license for military spouses

The Supreme Court of Virginia will allow military spouses to practice law in Virginia without examination if they practice under the supervision of Virginia attorneys.

The court’s new Rule 1A:8 creates a provisional law license for military spouse lawyers.

The adoption of the rule follows a 2012 resolution of the Conference of Chief Justices urging states to adopt rules and procedures to accommodate the needs of military spouse attorneys.

The court sought comment on the military spouse rule in November. The court adopted the rule May 16 and it becomes effective July 1.

A lawyer provisionally admitted to practice in Virginia under the rule may practice “only under the supervision and direction of Local Counsel,” the rule says.

An applicant must also show that he or she:

(a) has been admitted by examination to practice law before the court of last resort of any U.S. state or territory or of the District of Columbia;

(b) holds a Juris Doctor degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association at the time of such applicant’s graduation;

(c) has achieved a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination as established in Virginia at the time of application;

(d) is currently an active member in good standing in at least one U.S. state or territory or the District of Columbia where the applicant is admitted to the unrestricted practice of law, and is a member in good standing in all jurisdictions where the applicant has been admitted;

(e) is not currently subject to lawyer discipline or the subject of a pending disciplinary matter in any other jurisdiction;

(f) possesses the good character and fitness to practice law in Virginia;

(g) is the dependent spouse of an active duty service member of the United States Uniformed Services and that the service member is on military orders stationed in the Commonwealth of Virginia or the National Capital region, as defined by the Department of Defense;

(h) is physically residing in Virginia;

(i) has submitted all requested character investigation information;

(j) has never failed the Virginia Bar Examination;

(k) has completed 12 hours of instruction approved by the Virginia Continuing Legal Education Board on Virginia substantive and/or procedural law, including four hours of ethics, within the six-month period immediately preceding or following the filing of the applicant’s application;

(l) has read and is familiar with the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct; and

(m) has paid applicable fees.

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