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Supreme Court adopts rule to allow military spouses to temporarily practice law

Friday, September 9, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Meg Wickham
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NEWS RELEASE September 9, 2016  

Contact: Lisa Taylor
Public Information Director
785-296-4872
taylorl@kscourts.org 

Supreme Court adopts rule to allow attorneys married to military personnel stationed in Kansas to temporarily practice law without taking state bar exam

TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court has adopted a rule that allows attorneys living in Kansas who are spouses of military service members stationed here to temporarily practice law without taking the state-administered uniform bar exam.

The rule takes effect September 15. 

"Spouses of military personnel often make tremendous career sacrifices to support their loved ones in uniform," said Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. "As a Marine Corps veteran myself, I'm especially pleased the Kansas Board of Law Examiners proposed this rule so our state can further demonstrate its support of the men and women who pledge their lives in service to our country."

Rule 712A allows an attorney who has been admitted to practice law in another state or the District of Columbia, and who is married to a military service member stationed in Kansas, to be admitted to practice law in Kansas without a written examination. 

The applicant must have an active law license in at least one state or U.S. territory, must meet all applicable requirements, and must not be subject to a pending disciplinary investigation, or ever been suspended or disbarred from the practice of law. 

An applicant who meets all criteria in the rule will be granted a temporary restricted license to practice in Kansas. The license will be effective as long as the person resides in Kansas, remains married to the military service member stationed here, and continues to be employed as an attorney by or with an active Kansas attorney in good standing who will have ultimate responsibility for clients. 

To accommodate provisions of the new rule, the Kansas Supreme Court also amended Rules 704, 707, 708, 720 and 721. All are available at www.kscourts.org under the heading Court Rules and Forms. The application form for temporary admission under Rule 712A will be available on the same website September 15 under Appellate Clerk > Board of Law Examiners.

Rule 712A was proposed by the 10-member Kansas Board of Law Examiners composed of judges and lawyers. While the board began investigating the possible adoption of the rule in 2014, it was not adopted until after it was thoroughly vetted by the board and Supreme Court, and made available for public comment. 

In addition to managing and grading a twice-yearly bar examination and hearings on applicants' character and fitness to practice law, the board makes recommendations to the Supreme Court on policies and procedures related to bar admission. 

As of August 2016, 18 states have adopted a similar rule or waiver to allow military spouses to be admitted to practice law in some capacity. At least 13 more have either a proposed rule pending or are currently investigating possible admission of military spouses.

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