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Lawyer Who Backs Easier Bar Admission for Military Spouse JDs Is Contest Finalist

Posted Jan 20, 2012 6:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A lawyer who founded a support network for military spouses with law degrees is one of 30 finalists in a competition for military spouse of the year.

Mary Reding, co-founder of the Military Spouse JD Network, is one of five finalists in a category for spouses of National Guard members. The first round of voting is now open in the contest sponsored by Military Spouse magazine, according to a press release.

In an online profile, Reding identifies retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as her role model and responds to an unusual question about what kind of salad dressing she would be and why. “Oil and vinegar,” Reding responds. “On the surface, the mixture of a military and a legal career would appear to clash and separate. But with great quality ingredients, it makes a wonderful blend.”

Reding has learned firsthand about the difficulty of practicing law while moving from state to state because of to the military relocations of her spouse, an Arizona Guardsman and former active duty service member. “While I’ve been unable to practice law in our last two states of residence due to the time it takes to take and pass most state bars, I’ve been given the opportunity to use my skills to advocate for military spouses and families,” she writes in her profile. She has helped military families struggling to navigate the world of military health and other benefits.

Working with the Military Spouse JD Network, Reding supports changes in state bar rules to make it easier for lawyers whose spouses are transferred by the military to gain admission to practice when they move to new states.

Reding worked on a resolution that may be considered by the ABA House of Delegates at the association’s midyear meeting in early February. It urges state admission authorities to adopt rules and regulations to accommodate the needs of lawyers who move frequently with their military spouses. Such rules could include “admission by endorsement" provisions to allow military spouse attorneys who are licensed in good standing in one jurisdiction to be admitted without examination in another, the resolution says.

Military Spouse magazine has opened the first round of voting to determine the winners from six service branches. A second round of voting begins Feb. 14 after the branch winners are chosen.

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