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In re Amendments to Rules Regulating the Florida Bar

Supreme Court of Florida

July 19, 2018

IN RE: AMENDMENTS TO THE RULES REGULATING THE FLORIDA BAR AND THE RULES OF THE SUPREME COURT RELATING TO ADMISSIONS TO THE BAR-MILITARY SPOUSE RULES.

         Original Proceeding - Rules of the Supreme Court of Florida Relating to Admissions to the Bar

          Joshua E. Doyle, Executive Director, Michelle Suskauer, President, John M. Stewart, President-elect, Vanessa Lee Brice, Chair, Tina Marie Fischer, Past Chair, Military Affairs Committee, William A. Spillias, Director, Unlicensed Practice of Law, and Elizabeth Clark Tarbert, Ethics Counsel, The Florida Bar, Tallahassee, Florida; and Elizabeth J. Walters, Chair, Michele A. Gavagni, Executive Director, and James T. Almon, General Counsel, Florida Board of Bar Examiners, Tallahassee, Florida, for Petitioner

          Karlyn H. Boler, on behalf of Military Spouse JD Network, Arlington, Virginia, Responding with Comments

          PER CURIAM.

         Before the Court is the joint petition of The Florida Bar (Bar) and the Florida Board of Bar Examiners (Board) proposing amendments to both the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar (Bar Rules) and the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Bar (Bar Admission Rules). We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 15, Fla. Const.

         The Bar and Board propose that the Bar Rules be amended to include new chapter 21 (Military Spouse Authorization to Engage in the Practice of Law in Florida). The proposed new chapter is composed of the following new rules: 21-1.1 (Purpose); 21-2.1 (Eligibility); 21-3.1 (Continuing Legal Education); 21-4.1 (Activities and Requirement); 21-5.1 (Annual Renewal); and 21-6.1 (Termination). The petition also proposes that the Bar Admission Rules be amended to include new rule 2-23.7 (Military Spouse Fee).

         The proposed new rules were approved by the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar, and were published for comment in The Florida Bar News prior to the Court's consideration of them. The notice directed interested persons to file their comments directly with the Court. One comment was filed in support of the proposed new rules. Neither the Bar nor the Board filed a response to the comment.

         Having considered the joint petition and the comment filed, we adopt these proposed amendments to the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar and the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Bar. The new rules accommodate the unique mobility requirements of members of the U.S. Armed Services and their families. Service members are frequently required to relocate to duty locations around the globe based on the needs of the particular service to which they belong, with little regard to how the relocation may affect the service member's family. As a result, the assignment of a service member to a duty location in Florida may place the service member's spouse in the untenable position of having to choose between giving up the practice of law to relocate with the service member and continuing to practice law in the jurisdiction where he or she is already licensed. New chapter 21 and new rule 2-23.7 establish a process whereby the spouse of a service member who is licensed to practice law in another jurisdiction may obtain authorization to practice law in Florida for up to five years without taking the Florida Bar Examination while the service member is assigned to a duty location in the state.

         It is our hope that the adoption of these new rules will assuage some of the hardships associated with service in the U.S. Armed Services. At a minimum, our adoption of these new rules gives form to the abiding gratitude we all share for the men and women who voluntarily serve in the U.S. Armed Services and the sacrifices endured by their families.

         Accordingly, new chapter 21 and new rule 2-23.7, as reflected in the appendix to this opinion, are added to the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar and the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Bar, respectively. The amendments shall become effective at 12:01 a.m., September 17, 2018.

         It is so ordered.

          CANADY, C.J., and PARIENTE, QUINCE, POLSTON, LABARGA, and LAWSON, JJ., concur.

          LEWIS, J., concurs in result.

         THE FILING OF A MOTION FOR REHEARING SHALL NOT ALTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THESE AMENDMENTS.

         Appendix

         RULES REGULATING THE FLORIDA BAR

         CHAPTER 21 MILITARY SPOUSE AUTHORIZATION TO ENGAGE IN THE PRACTICE OF LAW IN FLORIDA 21-1 PREAMBLE RULE 21-1.1 PURPOSE

         The Supreme Court of Florida may certify a lawyer who is the spouse of a full time active duty member of the United States armed forces to engage in the practice of law in Florida while the lawyer's spouse is stationed within this jurisdiction, due to the unique mobility requirements of military families who support the defense of the United States. A lawyer ...


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