ILNews

New bar group advocates for military spouse JDs

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrint

After graduating from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2003, Lauren Pope passed the Ohio bar examination on her first try. She passed the bar exam again seven years later in Illinois, and last year in Indiana.

poperecent-15col.jpg Lauren Pope is married to Maj. T.J. Pope, a helicopter pilot for the Indiana Army National Guard. When T.J. was on active duty for the Army, the couple lived in Germany, which Lauren said later led to a perceived gap in employment, something that’s hard to overcome in the legal profession. Also pictured is the couple’s son, James. (Submitted photo)

Pope – like many spouses of military members – relocated frequently while her husband was in the Army. After moving back from Germany in 2006, Pope and her husband lived in Chicago while he earned a Master of Business Administration. She looked for a law job in Illinois, but she didn’t get favorable responses to her résumé.

“They didn’t understand the employment gaps, I guess,” she said.

Pope, who now lives in Carmel, said she was frustrated that people in charge of hiring lawyers didn’t know that moving frequently is a requirement for military families. But she found she wasn’t the only one whose frequent moves were creating a barrier to legal employment after learning about the Military Spouse JD Network.

“My husband actually sent me a link,” Pope said. “I don’t know where he found it – they haven’t been in existence very long – and he said, ‘Hey have you seen this?’”

Support for spouses

Last year, Erin Wirth – an administrative law judge in Washington D.C. and wife of a U.S. Coast Guard officer – began looking online for other people like her.

She learned that the Ohio Women’s Bar Association in 2009 signed a resolution advocating for provisional military spouse admission rules. Behind that effort was Mary Reding, a lawyer and Air Force spouse. Wirth contacted Reding, and in 2011, the two women launched the Military Spouse JD Network, a national bar association for military spouses.

Since graduating from law school, Wirth has moved seven times, in accordance with her husband’s Coast Guard orders. Like Pope, she has taken and passed the bar in three jurisdictions.

“The actual passing of the bar isn’t really the hard part. I think the hardest part is maintaining your career, and what the bar exam does is cause a huge gap because it’s only offered twice a year,” Wirth said.

According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, most states require significant advance notice from lawyers who plan to take the bar exam. Arizona’s deadline for submission of applications is Aug. 15 for the February exam. Delaware offers the exam only in July. Military spouses may, therefore, end up moving to a new state and waiting months to take the bar exam.

Even in states that offer reciprocal admission, Wirth said that gaps in employment created by frequent moves may affect eligibility to be admitted to the bar. For example, when she moved to Minnesota – which offers reciprocal admission to attorneys who have practiced for 60 of the 84 preceding months – she learned that the bar didn’t consider one of her prior jobs to be an “active legal job,” which made her ineligible to be admitted.

Military spouse JDs also hope to be understood by their peers, who sometimes question why anyone would choose to enter a marriage that could stunt their career growth.

“I said from the beginning I didn’t want to be a military spouse, it wasn’t good for my career, and yet, here I am,” Pope said. “Yes, it’s a choice to marry someone in the military. Once you’re in, you’ve got to go along (with relocation), or you succumb to the high divorce rate.”

Wirth said she’s not sure everyone understands that relocation orders are not optional; her husband can’t simply refuse to go where he’s told to go.

Lawyers can talk about these and other concerns through the Military Spouse JD Network and its Facebook page.

“We love reading the comments because they are always very touching, and they keep us very motivated,” Wirth said.

Challenges with overseas employment

In 2006, Pope and her husband moved to Germany. She knew enough German to get by in day-to-day life, but Pope didn’t feel she would be able to practice law in a foreign language.

“I spent nine months just applying for anything,” she said.

She found a civil service job as a tax preparer with the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, a low-level position, but one with some legal component. She then moved up to a better position in civil service and in March 2008, landed a high-ranking job where she supervised attorneys and provided legal advice for hundreds of Americans based in Germany. But when she returned to the United States, she found that hiring managers did not understand how civil service operates, or that her ending rank of “GS21” reflected the importance of her job.

At an interview in Indiana for a clerkship, the person reviewing her résumé noted that she never seemed to stay in one job for long.

“People don’t really understand. Yes, you’re moving and you do the best you can, and even once you get out, you still get that moving stigma,” she said. “I’m somehow in a category with suspicious characters.”

The push for reform

In February, three months after hearing testimony from Wirth and Reding, the American Bar Association House of Delegates adopted a resolution endorsing the waiver of bar exam requirements for military spouses.

On April 18, Idaho became the first state to adopt military spouse admission guidelines, and other proposals are in the works. Carissa Long, assistant director of communications for the Indiana State Bar Association, said the state bar was not currently aware of any discussions regarding relaxed admission requirements for lawyers who are military spouses.

Wirth said that the network continues to grow. So far, it has added about one lawyer per day since its inception.

“We sort of expected it to slow at some point, and we haven’t hit that point yet,” she said.

Wirth and Reding will continue to advocate on behalf of military spouses, hoping that new employment opportunities will come along with relaxed admission requirements.

“I don’t think these rules were put in place to make life more difficult for us, I think people just didn’t know that military spouses were out there,” she said.•
ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  2. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  3. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  4. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  5. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

ADVERTISEMENT