Montana Legal Services

Montana Legal Services is the only statewide provider of free legal services to low to middle income Montanans. Montana is huge, has a sparse population, is primarily rural. There are not very many private attorneys. The 2005 Montana legal needs study showed that many Montanans’ legal needs aren’t met. This mirrored the conclusions of the Legal Services Corporation’s “Documenting the Justice Gap” study released in 2005. The legal community in Montana became aware of the problems and decided to do something about it (helped by Chief Justice Karla Gray).

  • Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)

    Therefore, Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) enjoys being on the same page regarding promoting access to justice.

    Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) Provides:

    • TIG grant
    • General legal information and referral web site
    • Partners include MLSA, Pro Bono Net, State of Montana Bar, State of Montana Supreme Court, State of Montana Law Library, Montana Justice Foundation.
    • Community buy-in: Led to collaboration with Montana Credit Union Network.
    • Formalized partnerships. Stakeholder committee. Meetings. MOU.
    • Formalization has mellowed. MLSA still solicits and gets input from stakeholders, meets periodically with legal partners to collaborate and to maximize resources, avoid replication or problems.
    Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) Office Locations:

    Helena – Main Administrative Office
    616 Helena Avenue, Suite 100
    Helena, MT 59601
    (406) 442-9830

    Billings
    2442 1st Avenue North
    Billings, MT 59101
    (406) 248-7113

    Havre
    2229 5th Avenue
    Havre, MT 59501
    (406) 265-4731

    Missoula
    211 North Higgins Avenue, Suite 401
    Missoula, MT 59802
    (406) 543-8343

    MLSA Legal HelpLine: Call the Helpline at 1-800-666-6899
    Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) website: http://www.mtlsa.org/

  • MontanaLawHelp.Org

    MontanaLawHelp.org is a project of the Montana Legal Services Association. It is funded in part by the national Legal Services Corporation. The Montana Legal Services Association, the State Bar of Montana and the Montana Supreme Court Equal Justice Task Force work together to find, create and organize the information on MontanaLawHelp.org.

    MontanaLawHelp.org has information for civil legal issues. Find articles, forms, courts, where to find legal help, and more. Need help finding what you need? Use the LiveHelp button on the right side of the screen. If you cannot find the information you are looking for, you may click on the "LiveHelp" button for help. MontanaLawHelp.org Provides:

    • TIG grant
    • General legal information and referral web site
    • Partners include MLSA, Pro Bono Net, State of Montana Bar, State of Montana Supreme Court, State of Montana Law Library, Montana Justice Foundation.
    • Community buy-in: Led to collaboration with Montana Credit Union Network.
    • Formalized partnerships. Stakeholder committee. Meetings. MOU.
    • Formalization has mellowed. MLSA still solicits and gets input from stakeholders, meets periodically with legal partners to collaborate and to maximize resources, avoid replication or problems.

    MontanaLawHelp website: http://www.montanalawhelp.org/

  • MontanaFreeFile.org

    Looking for a better experience when you file your taxes this year? Let MontanaFreeFile.org help! This website is dedicated to helping you learn where to receive free tax assistance and how to get your refund in as little as eight days at no charge. Which is the best free tax filing option for you? That depends! Just click here or go to the "Filing Your Return" link found on the left of the website. Learn to prepare your own return and volunteer to prepare tax returns in your community! Participate in the VITA or AARP TCE program! MontanaFreeFile.org Provides:

    • TIG grant
    • MontanaFreeFile.org promotes I-CAN and other free tax filing services and tax help.
    • Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Montana returns
    • Partners include MLSA, Pro Bono Net, Credit Union Network, MT Dept. of Revenue, Opportunity Link Inc., and Rural Dynamics Inc.

    MontanaFreeFile.org is brought to you by: Montana Legal Services Association, Montana's Credit Unions, Department of RevenueOpportunity Link Inc. and Rural Dynamics Inc.. Visit MontanaFreeFile website: http://montanafreefile.org/

  • LiveHelp Kiosks: Free Legal Self-Help For Rural Montana Residents

    The kiosks are part of a collaborative effort by the legal services organization, the Montana Law Library, the Montana Supreme Court Office of Court Administrator and Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit organization. Details: Free legal self-help computer kiosks

  • MT Consumer Protection - Identity Theft:

    The Montana Department of Justice, Office of Consumer Protection is working hard to fight back against identity theft. In an effort to help victims, they designed the Identity Theft Passport to help prove to creditors and law enforcement officers that someone has used their identity to commit fraud.

    Through no fault of their own, victims of identity theft are forced to spend a considerable amount of time and money undoing the damage done to their good names and credit records. The wallet-sized passport is designed to help victims prove who they are and limit the cost and stress they experience.

    To qualify for a passport, identity theft victims must file a police report with a Montana law enforcement agency and present a completed Identity Theft Passport application with a photo ID to the investigating agency. Once the complaint has been verified by law enforcement, the agency faxes or mails to Montana's Office of Consumer Protection and Victim Services:

    • Copy of the completed investigation report
    • Identity Theft Passport application, signed by the victim and the officer
    • Copy of the victim's driver license or other official form of photo identification

    Once the victim and law enforcement have provided all of the necessary information, the passport should be issued within 10 working days. Passports expire after three years.

    The passport application and supporting documentation is confidential criminal justice information. Law enforcement agencies and creditors have discretion in accepting an identity theft passport. The passport simply indicates that the agency or company should take into consideration that the individual is a victim of identity theft. This Consumer Tip and MontanaLawHelp.org is a joint project of Montana's Credit Unions and Montana Legal Services Association. MontanaLawHelp.org has information about consumer issues, housing, money management, and more.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD)

Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives and financial independence of all Montanans. MCUCD does this by bringing innovative and empowering financial services to the under-served and those of modest means through Montana's credit unions.

MCUCD has the expertise and resources of its parent organization, the Montana Credit Union Network, who has been serving Montana's credit unions for over 65 years. MCUCD also has the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) designation from the U.S. Treasury Department, recognizing MCUCD's focus on underserved populations.

Because of their unique not-for-profit structure, credit unions return profits back to their owners (the account holders) generally through lower loan rates, higher savings rates, and affordable products and services. Details about MCUCD: http://montanacreditunions.coop/ and Fergus County Federal Credit Union (FCU)

  • Montana Supreme Court Equal Justice Task Force

    The Montana Supreme Court created the Equal Justice Task Force in 2000. Members of the Equal Justice Task Force represent many organizations involved in the law in Montana. These organizations include the Montana Court System, the Montana Legal Services Association, the University of Montana School of Law, and the State Bar of Montana. The Equal Justice Task Force is in charge of planning ways to help Montanans easily access the legal system in Montana. They also study the legal needs of low- and moderate-income Montanans, and they find more funding for services. Check Montana Supreme Court - Equal Justice Task Force: http://courts.mt.gov/supreme/boards/ejtf/default.mcpx

  • Montana Pro Bono Net - to assist low income or disadvantaged clients

    Pro Bono Net is a national nonprofit organization based in New York City and San Francisco. We work in close partnership with nonprofit legal organizations across the United States and Canada, to increase access to justice for the millions of poor people who face legal problems every year without help from a lawyer and provides resources for pro bono and legal services attorneys and others working to assist low income or disadvantaged clients.

    Pro Bono Net is a unique organization in its use of information technology and collaboration among the various parts of the public interest legal community. Montana Pro Bono Net does this by (i) supporting the innovative and effective use of technology by the nonprofit legal sector, (ii) increasing participation by volunteers, and (iii) facilitating collaborations among nonprofit legal organizations and advocates working on similar issues or in the same region. Pro Bono Net can be contacted by phone at (212) 760-2554 or by email at i...@probono.net and website: http://www.montanaprobono.net/

  • State Bar of Montana

    The State Bar of Montana was created by order of the Montana Supreme Court in January, 1974. In it's Order, the Court provided that all persons practicing law in the state were obliged to be members of the State Bar. The State Bar of Montana leads the legal profession and serves the public interest. Assist with the provision of financial support for legal services to the poor through the Montana Justice Foundation. The Activities, Programs and purposes of the State Bar are:

    • to aid the courts in maintaining and improving the administration of justice;
    • to foster, maintain and require on the part of attorneys high standards of integrity, learning, competence, public service and conduct; to safeguard proper professional interests of the local bar associations;
    • to provide a forum for discussion of and effective action concerning subjects pertaining to the practice of law, the science of jurisprudence and law reform, and relations of the Bar to the public;
    • to provide for continuing legal education of members of the Bar and to insure that the responsibilities of the legal profession to the public are more effectively discharged.
    • A variety of services to its members, including continuing legal education seminars, practice manuals and ethics opinions.
    • A program of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education, requiring Active members of the Bar to secure 15 hours of continuing legal education each year and 5 ethics credits every 3 years.
    • A Lawyers Fund for Client Protection, which makes restitution in cases where an attorney has improperly appropriated client funds.
    • A Lawyer Referral Service, which allows members of the public to get help to find a lawyer for help with their particular legal problem.
    • A Fee Arbitration Program to settle fee disputes between an attorney and a client short of litigation.

    Contact State Bar of Montana, 7 West 6th Avenue, Suite 2B, P.O. Box 577, Helena, MT 59624 (59601 street). Phone: (406) 442-7660, Fax: (406) 442-7763, Email: mail...@montanabar.org , website: http://www.montanabar.org/