Illinois Supreme Court Changes Rules For Military Spouses

Jul 5, 2013

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

A new Illinois Supreme Court rule took effect that is intended to make it easier for spouses of military personnel to get a law license.

Angela Allen practices law in Chicago. With a husband in the Illinois National Guard, she's one of about 800 members of the Military Spouse J.D. Network.

Allen says the job market for lawyers is tough enough as it is, but with the frequent transfers that are a part of military life, she says the time and expense of getting a new state law license made it even harder on the lawyer-spouses.

"They were facing large gaps of employment due to having to take the bar every time their spouse member moved, which is on average two to three years," Allen said.

Through the Illinois Supreme Court's Commission on Access to Justice, she urged the court to make an accommodation, and the justices agreed.

Under the new rule, any lawyer who's married or in a civil union with a member of the military stationed in Illinois will have a much easier time getting a law license for the duration of their partner's assignment.

Allen says Illinois is home to about 25,000 active-duty personnel. She says it's only the fifth state to adopt special rules for military spouse lawyers.

Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey contributed to this report.