History & Purpose of the Bar
The purposes of the State Bar of Montana are to aid the courts in maintaining and improving the administration of justice; to foster and maintain and require on the part of those engaged in the practice of law high standards of integrity, learning, competence, public service, and conduct: to safeguard a forum for the 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 the 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. Constitution of the State Bar of Montana, Article III, Purposes
The voluntary Montana Bar Association, established on January 8, 1885, had by 1889, the year Montana's first constitution was adopted, a standing committee on legal education and admission to the Bar. 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 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.
The State Bar is governed by a Board of Trustees. Sixteen members of the Board are elected by the Active members of the Bar to two-year terms from the State Bar areas. State Bar areas are made up of one or several judicial districts. The other four Board members are the President and the President-Elect, who are elected statewide to one-year terms, the Secretary-Treasurer, who is elected statewide to a two-year term, and the Immediate Past President. The State Bar has two ABA delegates.
Activities & Programs
Major activities and programs of the State Bar include:
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 Lawyer Referral Service
, which allows members of the public to get help to find a lawyer for help with their particular legal problem.
Publication of informational pamphlets for the general
public on a wide variety of legal subjects, including marriage and divorce, landlord-tenant law, small claims court, rights of clients, wills and probate among others.
Character & Fitness reviews to determine if the applicants for admission to the State Bar possess the
necessary traits of character and fitness for the practice of law.
A variety of services to its members, including continuing legal education seminars, practice manuals and ethics opinions.
As of May 26, 2012, State Bar membership totaled 4,742. Of this number, 3,435 were in-state members and 1,307 were out-of-state members. Of the same total, 3,595 were Active members, 841 were Inactive members, 111 had Judicial status, 162 were Senior members, 3 were Emeritus members and 30 were Active Military members.
Annual dues are $200 for Active members, $125 for Inactive Members and $50 for Senior members. Judicial members do not pay dues while serving on the bench. (These assessments are in addition to the $25 paid by Active and Inactive members to the Clerk of Court for the statutory lawyer license fee). Assessments of $125 and $20 are also paid by Active and Active Military members only to fund the Montana Supreme Court's Office of Disciplinary Counsel and the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection. Section dues for the Bar’s 15 sections range from $0 to $20. Dues revenue constitutes the major source of income to the State Bar. Other revenue sources include income from State Bar continuing legal education programs and the sale of publications and affinity programs.