Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 131 into law, a broad occupational licensing recognition reform bill. This law makes it easier for workers licensed in another state to work in Ohio.

“These reforms are an integral component to modernizing Ohio’s outdated economic system,” said Rea S. Hederman Jr., vice president of policy at The Buckeye Institute, in a press release. “With Governor DeWine’s signature, Senate Bill 131 will help ease worker shortages and encourage skilled workers to pursue their careers and professions in the Buckeye State.”

Yet there is still room for occupational licensing reform in Ohio, specifically when it comes to attorney licensing.

A majority of states provide a way for lawyers who pass the bar examination in one state to be licensed without having to take another bar examination, commonly known as reciprocity. A handful of states require that lawyers be practicing full-time immediately preceding their application to be eligible for reciprocity. That means that if a mom chooses to reduce her own hours to spend more time with her children, for example, she is no longer eligible for admission without examination.

Ohio has a full-time work requirement.

The Ohio Supreme Court requires that an applicant for admission without examination “has engaged in the practice of law” for at least five full years out of the last 10 years prior to application on a “fulltime basis.” Rule I, Section 10(A). An applicant must submit an affidavit from their employer “verifying the applicant’s full-time practice of law.”

States like Ohio make it more difficult for part-time lawyers to practice after moving to the state as they must take another bar examination. The bar examination tests for competence. Reducing hours, however, doesn’t mean an attorney is less competent.

Many women choose to work part-time. Women make up about two-thirds of voluntary part-time workers. About 1 in 5 working women worked part-time voluntarily in 2016.

The 2022 Women in the Workplace report published by Lean In and McKinsey & Company that studied women in corporate America found that women leaders left their companies at the highest rate in years in 2022. Many cited a lack of flexibility as the reason with 49% of women leaders reporting that flexibility is one of the top three things they consider when deciding to join or stay with a company, more than the 34% response from men leaders

Part-time work is one way that people create flexible work. If this is what a corporate leader or attorney wants, she shouldn’t be penalized for it. It is not just some women who choose to work part-time. Men would benefit from reform, as well.

As Ohio is reforming its occupational licensing requirements, the Supreme Court of Ohio should reconsider its policy on reciprocity and remove the full-time work requirement for lawyers to be admitted without examination.