The State Bar of Montana offers a free, non-profit, Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) for the community. It's an outstanding resource when you feel you need an attorney but you're not sure who to turn to.
Each year, LRIS staff handles thousands of calls from people across the country looking for a Montana lawyer. Lawyer Referral Service attorneys agree to charge referred clients a reasonable fee for their service. For more information about How Lawyers Set Their Fees, check out this linked article. Since dealing with the law entails many difficult and technical issues, LRIS staff attempts to assist callers with information and other legal resources in addition to the referral to qualified attorneys. There are also a number of programs available to assist with so check out this guide to Montana Legal Resources.
How do I get a referral? The Lawyer Referral Service hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. You can call and speak to an experienced legal assistant at (406) 449-6577 during those hours or get referrals on our website 24/7. (For an online referral, select "I Need a Lawyer.) When you call the LRIS, you'll be asked to give a brief description of your legal issue and what it is you want an attorney to do for you. We may ask questions to determine how we can best help you, but this is a CONFIDENTIAL service, so your call will not be recorded or information disclosed beyond your phone conversation. Based on the information you provide, you may be given the contact information for other available legal resources in place of, or in addition to, the referrals. Before calling the attorney, you may want to review these answers to Common Questions About Hiring an Attorney. All callers must make their own independent investigation and evaluation of any lawyer being considered.
What if I can't afford an attorney? All Lawyer Referral Service attorneys are private lawyers who will arrange their fee with you based on the issues and complexity of your case. If you cannot afford to pay an attorney's regular fees, contact your local Montana Legal Services office or other resource available on our list of Montana Legal Resources. The State Bar offers a series of free brochures. They are designed to help the public answer the most common legal questions related to subjects like Divorce in Montana, Small Claims Court, When You Need Lawyer and other subjects. The brochures are available at various public service agencies, Montana courthouses and at the State Bar's offices in Helena. Some of that information as well as links to legal research and information sites can be found on our Legal Research page. The Lawyer Referral Service does not provide referrals to pro bono or low income attorneys.
Are LRIS attorneys qualified? To participate in the LRIS, the attorneys must be active members of the State Bar of Montana in good standing and agree to carry liability insurance. Attorneys choose their areas of practice for which they will accept cases. A referral to an attorney who has indicated his or her willingness to accept cases in a particular area of law, however, does not mean LRIS, the State Bar of Montana, or any other agency, board or committee has certified said attorney as a specialist or expert in the indicated field of law.