State Bar of Montana

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.

Governance
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 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.
  • 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.
  • Assist with the provision of financial support for legal services to the poor through the Montana Justice Foundation.
  • A variety of services to its members, including continuing legal education seminars, practice manuals and ethics opinions.
  • A website at www.montanabar.org offering information and links to www.montanalawhelp.org and www.montanaprobono.net.

Membership Data
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.

Financial Information
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.

 PRESIDENTS OF THE BAR

1975-76 Marshall H. Murray
1976-77 Thomas H. Mahan
1977-78 Bruce R. Toole
1978-79 Theodore K. Thompson
1979-80 L. Morris Ormseth
1980-81 Robert D. Corette
1981-82 Alexander A. George
1982-83 Ward A. Shanahan
1983-84 Sandy McCracken
1984-85 Douglas A. Wold
1985-86 George C. Dalthorp
1986-87 Terry N. Trieweiler
1987-88 John A. Warner
1988-89 Max A. Hansen
1989-90 Gary L. Spaeth
1990-91 Damon L. Gannett
1991-92 James W. Johnson
1992-93 Sherry S. Matteucci
1993-94 Robert M. Carlson
1994-95 Robert J. Phillips
1995-96 Gary L. Day
1996-97 Donald D. MacIntyre
1997-98 Martha Sheehy
1998-99 Brent M. Cromley
1999-00 Edward C. Bartlett
2000-01 Molly M. Shepherd

2001-02 Donald R. Murray
2002-03 Andrew P. Suenram
2003-04 Robert J. Sullivan
2004-05 Keith A. Maristuen
2005-06 Bernard F. McCarthy
2006-07 Peggy Probasco
2007-08 John C. Schulte
2008-09 Chris Tweeten
2009-10 Cynthia K. Smith
2010-11 Joseph M. Sullivan
2011-12 Shane A. Vannatta

2012-13 Pamela J. Bailey
2013-14 Randall A. Snyder

 

 

 

Quick Links

Contact Us Member Search Site Map Montana Justice Foundation Montana LawHelp.org
Montana Law Review Montana ProBono.net Montana Supreme Court Office of Disciplinary Counsel UM Law School



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