State Bar of Montana

Mission Statement: The mission of the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of Montana is to lead the legal profession and serve the public interest.
Board/Executive Committee web page

April President's Message

Face-to-face meetings keep us grounded

By President Randy Snyder

Journal of Meriwether Lewis, March 22, 1806:
[Chief Coboway] has been much more kind an[d] hospitable to us than any other indian in this neighbourhood.
Coboway was chief of a village in Oregon where the Corp spent its final winter before their return trip. Coboway frequently visited the expedition at Fort Clatsop throughout the winter. He traded a sea otter pelt for fishhooks and a bag of tobacco. When the expedition nearly exhausted the local elk herd, the Clatsops told the Corps that a whale had washed ashore some miles to the south.

My travels don’t approach a 17th century expedition. But the patterns and lessons are instructive. Last week the Bar’s Executive Committee visited Great Falls, holding its March meeting at a local firm, then joining the Cascade County Bar’s monthly gathering. These exchanges are one of the best things we do. That and it was Western Art Week and the C.M. Russell Auction. I missed the auction, but read that a single piece, “Horsetalk” aka “Offering a Truce” brought a record $1.25 million. Not even my favorite.

Meeting up with the local bar keeps us grounded. Talking about Bar-sponsored legal research for members (Fastcase – firing up in June), outlining what’ll be new at the convention at Big Sky; and what’s happening with the District Judge substitution
petition. It’s all been in print, but you can’t beat face to face dialogue. I like questions from members I can’t easily answer – a lesson that we always need to rethink what we do for folks.

And better yet is simply knocking on doors. It’s always friendly, but never predictable. Kind of like Russell’s “In Without Knocking,” which I do love.

Like Lewis and Chief Coboway, we don’t know what to expect & sometimes talk pretty different – I seemed to find litigation or personal injury folk this trip. One visit likened to riding a horse into the hotel. But we trade stories; I’ll pass out a Deskbook where needed. We trade. Some folk save up just to unload their frustration with a rule, the court or whatever the State Bar doesn’t do right. I may not have a good answer, but we’ll never know what’s gnawing at you unless we ask. Mostly just good stories.

Like Lewis and Chief Coboway, probably won’t meet up again. But we’re better for sharing that coffee. So thanks for the visit! If I missed you and you got the itching and a spare moment, drop a note, give a call or you just come on in. This legal stuff can be a tough go – best if we keep talking. In our Master’s words,

When you come to my lodge the robe will be spread and the pipe lit for you.

Yer Chief Deputy
Randy Snyder
(406) 837-4383


Randall A. Snyder, Bigfork

Mark D. Parker, Billings 

Bruce M. Spencer, Helena

 Immediate Past President
Pamela J. Bailey, Billings

 Chair of the Board
Matthew B. Thiel, Missoula

(by State Bar Area)


Area A
Marybeth Sampsel, Kalispell

Area B
Leslie Halligan, Missoula
Matthew Thiel, Missoula

Tammy Wyatt-Shaw, Missoula

Area C
Ellen Donohue, Anaconda

Area D
Jason Holden, Great Falls
Mike Talia, Great Falls

Area E
Kent Sipe, Roundup

Area F
Luke Berger, Helena
Kate Ellis, Helena

J. Stuart Segrest, Helena

Area G
Jane Mersen, Bozeman
Lynda White, Bozeman

Area H
Juli Pierce, Billings
Ross McLinden, Billings
Monique Voigt, Billings

Delegates to the American Bar Association
Damon Gannett, Billings
Shane A. Vannatta, Missoula



Quick Links

Contact Us Member Search Site Map Montana Justice Foundation Montana
Montana Law Review Montana Montana Supreme Court Office of Disciplinary Counsel UM Law School

Copyright © 2000-2014 State Bar of Montana All rights reserved.
Legal Disclaimer: While we do our best to ensure that the information on this site is accurate, the information on this web site does not constitute the provision of legal advice. Additionally, this site contains links to various government information pages and reference pages useful for legal research. We do not maintain control over the content of the linked pages, and cannot be responsible for the accuracy of any information in the linked pages. For answers to specific questions, you should consult an attorney familiar with your particular situation.