The State Bar of Montana is an integrated bar association that requires all lawyers practicing in the state to join. It was founded originally as a voluntary organization in 1885. However, it became mandatory in 1974 upon the order of the state’s supreme court. Marshall H. Murray served as its first president.
A 16-member board governs the State Bar of Montana. All 16 members are elected into their positions. They then hire an executive director to serve as the head of the organization for one year.
Because the bar is integrated, it has the responsibility of regulating and overseeing the legal profession in Montana. It investigates and disciplines attorneys who are found to be in violation of ethical and professional standards. It additionally investigates complaints that people lodge about attorney fees, attorney practices, and other aspects of the legal profession.
The State Bar of Montana currently has more than 4100 active members. Out of that number, around 1300 of these attorneys are from out-of-state. In exchange for their membership dues, members receive a host of professional and personal benefits including access to Fastcase, which is a free legal research resource. Instead of lawyers paying to access resources like case law and legal documents, they can access all of their research for free by joining the state bar.
Further, lawyers who join the State Bar of Montana also are entitled to retirement savings plans, hotel discounts, and case management software. These perks are available for as long as attorneys keep their membership dues paid up in full each year.
Along with providing resources and benefits to attorneys, the State Bar of Montana also offers resources to the public. Primarily, people in need of an attorney can use the state bar’s website to access a free online attorney referral directory. This directory provides people with the names, contact information, and location of attorneys in all legal specialties.
Further, the website also offers information on programs like low-cost or free legal services as well as a victim’s fund. People who do not have the money to hire an attorney may qualify for pro bono services if they meet the program’s criteria. Further, people who have been victimized by lawyers may qualify for restitution through the state bar’s victim’s fund.
The Montana State Bar is located at 33 South Last Chance Gulch Suite 1B in Helena, Montana, 59624. Its executive director is John Mudd.