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Jennifer Butch Talley '10 and Katie Manzi McDonough '13

Military Spouse Rule Adopted in NJ – Seton Hall Law Community Rallies in Support

Seton Hall law alumni were successful in their appeal to the NJ State Supreme Court to ease the way for attorney military spouses to practice in the state

Jennifer Butch Talley ’10 and Katie Manzi McDonough ’13 successfully advocated for the adoption of Rule 1:27-4 by the New Jersey State Supreme Court. The new rule provides temporary bar admission to attorney spouses whose husbands or wives serve in the military and are stationed in New Jersey.

Both women are married to Seton Hall Law graduates – Justin Talley ’08 and Michael McDonough ’11, respectively, both of whom serve in the Army JAG Corps. Jennifer and Katie were inspired to advocate for a change in the rules for bar admission by situations like those faced by the Talleys, who lived apart for four years when they were first married. At the time, Jennifer had just passed the bar exam in New Jersey and needed to begin her legal career just as her husband was stationed in Fort Drum, New York, outside the Canadian border.

This past spring, Jennifer and Katie launched a campaign to solicit support from the New Jersey legal community and reached out directly to the Seton Hall Law community. In response, Professor Brian Sheppard, the Law Veterans Society student organization as well as several law firms and individual alumni, stepped up to write letters to the Court on their behalf.

The effort was successful. The Supreme Court recognized the many letters Talley and McDonough presented along with their brief. Expressing thanks to those who wrote on their behalf, Talley and McDonough wrote, “We dare say that proposals regarding bar admission rules rarely garner such enthusiasm, and so we are doubly grateful to have a network of supporters who were willing to publicly and persuasively support our efforts.”

Talley and McDonough advocated for the New Jersey rule change under the auspices of the Military Spouses JD Network, an organization working state-by-state to address the challenge of military spouses – primarily women – seeking temporary bar admission when the family faces relocation. They believe their success in New Jersey, the tenth state to adopt the rule, will resonate in other states nationwide.