We are now in the State of Ohio.
If you are a lawyer married to a person working in the military, you do not need to pass the rigors of attorney licensing when moving to the State of Ohio. Or at least that exemption may be introduced in the near future.
No, it is not my view, it is the view of the Task Force of the Ohio Supreme Court that recommended admission of military spouses who are lawyers in other jurisdiction in Ohio without examination.
Now, I would love to see marriage statistics of the dates of marriage of out-of-state attorneys married to the military personnel since such an exemption provides a real financial incentive for out-of-state attorneys to marry military personnel in order to be able to save time, money and effort in skipping Ohio bar exam and verification of knowledge and skills.
I do understand that for a military family where one spouse is transferred from place to place across the country, being tied to one location where the other spouse is licensed presents a problem, because the lawyer spouse will have to jump additional licensing hurdles each time the couple is transferred.
Yet, I would like to remind my readers that, with all due respect to the military (and members of my own family were and are going to be in the military), military service in this country is by contract, it is voluntary, and it is a paid work.
Yes, it is dangerous, but so is the work of a police officer, a firefighter, an emergency rescuer.
And, many families, including families where one of the spouses is a lawyer, get offers of transfer to another region of the country, often offers that would benefit the family immensely.
Or, in the alternative, some families have to move for reasons unrelated to financial benefits or career choices, but due to an illness in the extended family or necessity for a different climate or medical treatment for a member of the family.
Yet, those most honorable considerations for moving to another state are not considered as grounds to relieve out-of-state attorneys transferring into the State of Ohio from requirements to prove their skills, which are meant to protect the public from poor quality of legal services.
I must mention here, as a disclaimer that I never practiced in Ohio and do not intend to do so, even though nobody can ever predict the future.
I also should mention that there is no automatic "reciprocity" in Ohio with other states, and an attorney licensed in another state may still have to satisfy certain additional requirements before that attorney is allowed to practice in Ohio:
If the image is too small, I will repeat what it says, these are the requirements of the Supreme Court of Ohio for admission of attorneys without examination:
Admission to the Practice of Law in Ohio Without Examination
Before you complete this application, you should read Rule I of the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar.
You may apply for admission to the practice of law in Ohio without examination if you meet all of the criteria listed in Gov. Bar R. I, Sec. 9(A). Please review these criteria before downloading and completing the application forms.
Your Application for Admission to the Practice of Law Without Examination must be filed with the Office of Bar Admissions and include all of the following:
- a completed Request for Admission Without Examination form;
- the affidavit required under Section 9, Division (C)(1), executed on the form provided (i.e., Affidavit of Applicant);
- a hardcopy of the completed Applicant's Questionnaire, printed and properly executed, and a copy of the Questionnaire;
- three original (separately executed) National Conference of Bar Examiners (“NCBE”) Authorization and Release forms;
- a Certificate of Admission by Bar Examination as an attorney at law from the jurisdiction from which you are seeking admission demonstrating that you have taken and passed a bar examination and have been admitted to the practice of law in that jurisdiction. You may seek admission from any jurisdiction in which you have been admitted by examination;
- a Certificate of Presentation signed by an attorney admitted to practice in Ohio and duly registered pursuant to Gov. Bar R. VI;
- your fingerprints taken by a sheriff, deputy sheriff, municipal police officer, or state highway patrol officer;
- a certificate of good standing from each jurisdiction in which you are admitted to practice law, dated no earlier than 60 days prior to submission of the application;
- an affidavit demonstrating that you have complied with Section 9, Division (A)(2), including a description of your practice of law, the dates of such practice, and if applicable, a description of your employment subsequent to ceasing such practice (i.e., Applicant's Affidavit of Past Practice);
- an affidavit or affidavits confirming that you have engaged in the full-time practice of law for at least five full years out of the last ten years prior to submission of your application, as required by Section 9, Division (C)(5) (i.e., Employer's Affidavit(s) Verifying Past Practice);
- evidence of receipt of a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university (i.e., an original certificate or official transcript from the college or university);
- evidence of receipt of a law degree from an ABA approved law school (i.e., an original certificate or official transcript from the law school);
- a non-refundable application fee in the amount of $1,500, by certified check or money order made payable to the Supreme Court of Ohio; and
- a non-refundable fee, by certified check or money order, for an NCBE character investigation and report in the amount indicated on the “Request for Preparation of a Character Report.”
And then, in addition, you will have to satisfy these "Eligibility Requirements":
Yet, if you are married to a person in the military, you apparently do not have to satisfy ANY of these requirements, you will be admitted for the asking.
The exemption is what civil rights law calls both "underinclusive" and "overinclusive".
It does not cover attorneys not married to anybody, or who is a partner, but not a spouse, of a military employee, or who is married to somebody who is not a military employee, but who actually know issues pertaining to life in the military and/or military law and can help military personnel more than the knowledgeable-because-of-marriage attorney is.
Yet, it does cover attorneys who may not know anything about such law, who are unfit for reciprocal admission without examination on other grounds, such as competence or honesty or inexperience and who will be no value to the consumers, but their admission may be actually harmful.
1) as discrimination against unmarried couples where one of the partners is in the military and where one of the partners is an attorney;
2) as discrimination against all out-of-state attorneys who want to come and practice in the State of Ohio without regard to their marriage status or status of employment of their spouse if they are married;
And lawsuits for discrimination may follow.
Moreover, if such an exemption on checking the qualifications of a "military spouse" as an attorney is recommended - and by the licensing court/agency no less, that also begs the question whether licensing is meant for consumer protection at all, or it is meant for market protection of the already licensed attorneys against newcomers, whether they are fit to practice law in Ohio or not.
And I must note that it was not consumer unions who suggested this little exemption, but professional organizations of attorneys and the association of military spouses, organizations which have nothing to do with consumer protection, but everything to do with material benefits from the exemption.
If the State of Ohio can allow one class of attorneys to practice law without checking their fitness to practice, where members of the class are selected on the grounds unrelated to their fitness to practice law in Ohio or their character, there is no reason to regulate the legal profession in Ohio at all, otherwise it is a blatant discrimination based on marriage and a presumption of character based on identity of a spouse employed by the government, as well as a violation of Privileges and Immunities Clause.
So, while providing exemptions to a narrow class of people, such an exemption will invite lawsuits that will cost Ohio taxpayers a pretty penny, and I am sure Ohio taxpayers will not be asked for their approval before such an "exemption" is put into place.
Not good, Supreme Court of Ohio.