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State Bar of Montana Groups

State Bar of Montana Committees and Sections

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Institute

Objectives: The Institute is formed as a standing committee of the State Bar of Montana in order to carry out the mandate of Article III of the Constitution of the State Bar: to foster and maintain on the part of those engaged in the practice of law, high standards of learning and competence and to provide for the continuing legal education of members of the Bar.  The Institute is specifically charged as agent of the State Bar to prepare, sponsor and administer continuing legal education programs in Montana. The Institute will:1. Continue to improve the quality of CLE seminars, publish CLE materials for the members of the State Bar, and provide for the maintenance of its repository catalog of publications.2. In cooperation with the staff, continue to make sections, committees, local bars, and members aware of the Institute’s central coordinating function.3. Cooperate with other professional and state bar organizations within the region in educational seminars and meetings. 4. Explore ways to market our CLEs including online CLEs and using other technologies, i.e. video conferencing, phone conferencing, webinars, and other means allowing dissemination to a wider range of attorneys. 5. Be fiscally responsible and contribute to the Bar’s general fund.

Contact: Sara Sexe, Chair

Elder Assistance

Objectives: 1. Provide elder law information and resources to members of the State Bar of Montana to aid them in the service to Montana’s senior citizens and persons with disabilities. 2. Support the delivery of legal services to Montana’s senior citizens and persons with disabilities.3. Supervise the development of elder law related publications and CLE.

Contact: Twyla Sketchley, Chair

Ethics

Objectives: 1. Carry out the mandate of Article III of the State Bar Constitution “...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...” 2. Provide advisory ethics opinions to the members of the State Bar and publish those of general interest, with a central register of opinions kept with other resource materials at the State Bar office in Helena. 3. Review the Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by the Montana Supreme Court and work with the Professionalism Committee and CLE Institute to educate Bar members regarding the changes.

Contact: Pete Habein, Chair     

Executive

Objectives: The Executive Committee will: Work to strengthen the Bar’s ties with the Law School students, as well as with new lawyers, by reassessing these relationships and developing methods of enhancing these alliances including the New Lawyers’ Workshop program, Road Show, Law School events and other activities; Continue to enhance relations with other legal organizations in the State including the Montana Trial Lawyers Association, the Montana Defense Trial Lawyers Association, the Montana County Attorneys Association and other statewide lawyer associations.  The Committee will organize jointly sponsored CLEs with these groups and other states, as appropriate; Develop and encourage interest and participation in State Bar elections both in seeking office and in voting; Seek diversity in the State Bar; Communicate with the membership about the goals and activities of the State Bar.

Contact: David J. Steele - State Bar of Montana

Fee Arbitration

Objectives: 1. Review rules and recommend changes. 2. Encourage Bar support through participation in the program and as panel members. 3. Monitor program for continued improvement.

Contact: Ralph Steele, Chair

Finance

Objectives: The Finance Committee should:Create the Supreme Court Report every three (3) years and present to the Executive Committee (EC) and Board of Trustees (BOT); Review the Audit which is received every two (2) years, and make recommendations to the BOT; Update annually the five year forecast of the Bar’s budget; Create annually the Bar’s budget and present to the EC and BOT; Review the Office of Disciplinary Counsel’s (ODC) budget as per MOU with the State Bar and ODC; Review annually the Bar’s investment policy and (a) recommend to the EC whether the BOT should review the policy sooner than the three year minimum; and (b) present the BOT with any recommended changes to the policy; Determine specific annual dates for these steps and reports.

Contact: Alanah Griffith, Chair

Judicial Relations

Objectives: 1. Improve the annual bench/bar CLE seminar through greater participation and program content.2. Send a representative of the committee to attend the semi-annual meetings of the Montana Judges Association and report to the Trustees periodically in this regard.3. Participate in and monitor the State Bar’s program for defending judges who are unfairly criticized.4. Monitor legislative updates related to judges. 5. Work with the judiciary on maintaining and increasing funding for the judicial process.

Contact: Eric Nord and Stuart Segrest, Co-Chairs

Justice Initiatives

Objectives: 1. Increase the provision of civil legal services by developing and promoting programs to recruit, train, and support pro bono attorneys, and removing barriers to providing pro bono, modest means, and limited scope legal services. 2. Expand access to civil legal services through coordination with the Access to Justice Commission, the judiciary, the State Bar of Montana and local bar associations, and other entities. 3. Develop mechanisms for ongoing review and reporting of progress on JIC’s objectives.

Contact: Lindsey Simon, Chair

Law-Related Education

Objectives: To provide public information and education on the importance of the rule of law in a civilized society, the legal rights and responsibilities of an individual and the workings of the legal system.  To this end, the Committee will:1. Support and maintain the Law Related Education Center.  The Law Related Education Center’s purpose includes: a. to coordinate law related education events such as Law Day; b. to produce original education materials to inform Montanans about the legal system; c. to make law related education curriculum materials and other teaching resources available to educators; d. to facilitate educational outreach by legal professionals who wish to improve Montanans’ understanding of the rule of law, the role of attorneys and the judiciary; e. to distribute educational materials and disseminate information about law education activities and opportunities through the State Bar; f. to appear, when possible, at State and local education association meetings and conventions to promote law related education; g. to support youth programs and other civic/legal education activities; and to foster Statewide cooperation among all those involved with law related education. 2. Provide resources to conduct and assist with the implementation of the Law School for Legislators held in conjunction with each session of the Legislature in cooperation with the leadership of the House, Senate, Legislative Services Division,  Bar membership, and the Law School.  3. Promote internet-based Montana legal resources.4. Support and maintain the Mock Trial and Citizens Law School programs.

Contact: Anna Conley, Chair

Lawyer Helping Lawyer Network

Objectives: To provide assistance to lawyers, judges, legal staff,  law students and professors troubled by alcoholism, other forms of chemical dependency, stress, depression, or mental health problems. The committee also offers assistance to family members.

Contact: Jessica Polan, Chair

Lawyer Referral & Information Service

Objectives: Monitor the Lawyer Referral & Information Service under the Rules of Operation adopted by the Board of Trustees; Continue efforts to disseminate information to the public and members so as to make both consumers and attorneys more aware of the service and encourage membership participation.

Contact: Ann Goldes-Sheahan, Access to Justice Coordinator - State Bar of Montana

Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection

Objective: To administer the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection pursuant to rules approved by the Board of Trustees (see Article XI, By-Laws of the State Bar of Montana).

Contact: Elizabeth Kaleva, Chair

Montana Lawyer Advisory Board

Purpose: The Montana Lawyer magazine advisory board’s purpose is to provide advice to the Editor including in the areas of development of magazine content, review and comment on the acceptance or rejection of specific submissions, including advertising, and guidance on practice trends and matters that may be of interest to the staff of the magazine. 

Contact: Joe Menden, Director of Communications - State Bar of Montana

Past Presidents

Objectives: To select the recipients of the William J. Jameson, George L. Bousliman Professionalism Award, and the Frank I. Haswell Award; To identify, develop and train leadership in the Bar; To assist and serve the President of the State Bar with advice as requested and with projects as delegated; To gather proposed resolutions and prepare them in final form to be presented at the Annual Meeting in accordance with the By-Laws.

Contact: Brian J. Smith, Chair

Professionalism

Objectives: In an effort to foster professionalism among Montana attorneys, the Committee will: 1. Incorporate the concepts of access to justice and Rules 6.1 and 6.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct into its programs, including the New Lawyers’ Workshop, the "Road Show” and seminars at the annual meeting. 2. Continue its Professionalism CLE seminar at the Annual Meeting of the State Bar, and conduct professionalism seminars throughout the state, including the "Road Show,” as a means of revitalizing local bar associations. 3. Emphasize the professionalism/competency of newly admitted lawyers, coordinate with the University of Montana School of Law, and support the New Lawyers’ Workshop program. 4. Work with the Ethics Committee to educate members about changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Contact: Tanis Holm, Chair

Technology

Objectives: Explore law office management and law office programs that might assist the efficiency and profitability of law practices, particularly small firms and solo practitioners; Study new technological applications and the future of the practice in Montana; Support all State Bar committees and sections, as well as State Bar staffed commissions, with application of new technology as it relates to the practice of law in Montana and administrative support of the State Bar.

Contact: Dana Hupp, Chair

Animal Law

The purpose of the Section is to enhance recognition of the importance of Animal Law to the state of Montana and to the legal profession.

Contact: Zachary Strong, Chair

Bankruptcy Law

The Section is currently working on a pro bono program and a peer mentoring program. The Section also sponsors a writing contest giving an award to a graduating senior at the University of Montana School of Law for an outstanding paper written on the subject of bankruptcy.

Contact: Jessie Lundberg, Chair

BETTR Law (Business, Estates, Trusts, Tax & Real Property)

The Section submits an annual report published in the State Bar's magazine, The Montana Lawyer and meets annually at the Tax Institute Seminar held in the Fall.

Contact: Molly Considine, Chair

Construction Law

The members of the Construction Law Section look forward to providing leadership in the development of this area of the law as more Montana practitioners become involved in the field of Construction law. The members of the Section also expressed an interest in the ethical implications of construction development in our state. The purpose of the Section shall be to foster and promote knowledge and skills of Montana practitioners of construction law.

Contact: Bridget LeFeber, Chair

Criminal Law

The purposes of the Section shall be: To promote study and research in the field of criminal defense law and the related arts in the State of Montana. To disseminate by lecture, seminars and publications the advancement of the knowledge of the law as it relates to the field of criminal defense practice in the State of Montana. To promote the proper administration of criminal justice in the State of Montana. To foster, maintain and encourage the integrity, independence and expertise of the defense lawyer in criminal cases in the State of Montana. To foster periodic meetings of the criminal defense bar; to provide a forum for the material exchange of information regarding the administration of criminal justice; and thereby to protect individual rights and to improve criminal law, its practice and procedures in the State of Montana.

Contact: Colin Stephens, Chair

Dispute Resolution

The purpose of the section is to:

(a) Provide a forum for Montana attorneys and eligible non-attorneys to discuss significant, specific and general developments in legislative, administrative and judicial fields affecting aspects of their practice involving Dispute Resolution;
(b) Provide opportunity for scrutiny, discussion and review of administrative agencies' powers, affairs, practices and procedures, including rules and rule making, policy making, enforcement and adjudicatory functions;
(c) Contribute to the continuing education of the attorney who practices in this field;
(d) Encourage publication of legal writings on Dispute Resolution questions among the members of the Association;
(e) Assist members of the legal profession and the public in the understanding of laws, regulations, and court decisions dealing with legal issues involving Dispute Resolution;
(f) Foster relationships between members of the profession working with various Dispute Resolution methods (i.e., Arbitration, Mediation, Mini-Trial, Settlement Conference, Etc.); and
(g) Support the mission, vision, and goals of the Bar.

Contacts: Alain Burrese and Patrick Quinn, Co-Chairs

Family Law

The general purposes of the Section shall be the promotion of the objectives of the State Bar within the field of child, family and matrimonial law.  The Section shall promote continuing legal education in this field and endeavor to upgrade the practice of child, family and matrimonial law in Montana. The Section may lobby for Section-approved or initiated legislation in the field of child, family and matrimonial law.

Contact: Amy Lord, Chair

Federal Practice

The Federal Practice Section of the State Bar of Montana is comprised of members whose practices or personal interests include federal law. The primary goal of the section is to provide information and support for its members. The Section provides CLE programs for the benefit of members; Financial support for and communication with the Lawyer Representatives to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, is a liaison with the Federal bench; and Educational and training assistance for law students.

Contact: Jordan Crosby, Chair

Health Care Law

Works to provide opportunities for health care attorneys licensed in Montana to interact with one another through educational activities.

Contact: Tom Donohoe, Chair

Indian Law

The purpose of the Section is to establish and maintain an organization comprised of Montana attorneys, law students, and tribal court practitioners who are engaged in or interested in the practice of Indian or Tribal Law. The Section will seek to provide a forum for the exchange of information relevant to the practice of Indian or Tribal Law.

Contact: Lillian Alvernaz, Chair

Join the Indian Law Section as an Associate Member HERE

Intellectual Property Law

The Intellectual Property Law Section of the State Bar of Montana promotes the education, training, and networking opportunities of attorneys who practice in, are interested in, or desire to learn more about the area of Intellectual Property Law. The IPL Section’s Council meetings are open to everyone and occur every other month via Zoom.  The IPL Member meeting occurs during the SBM Annual Meeting in September.  The Section offers CLE webinars that are free to members and also co-hosts IP Day in Montana – a conference on IP topics of interest to Montanans.  Please contact Sarah J. Rhoades sarah@ipmontana.com for upcoming meeting and event details. 

Contact: Shane Coleman, Chair

Natural Resource, Energy & Environmental Law

The purpose of the Section is to provide educational opportunities for its members and the community about recent developments in Natural Resource, Energy and Environmental Law and to help provide funding for the Albert Stone Scholarship, awarded to deserving students at the University of Montana School of Law. Section membership helps support a CLE that brings in leading voices in the areas of natural resources, energy and environmental law. The Section also provides needed financial support to a deserving student with similar interests in the law.

Contact: John Meyer, Chair

New Lawyers

The State Bar of Montana-New Lawyers' Section has 100+ members all in their first 10 years of practice. Therefore, the Section is known as: "the voice of Montana's new lawyers". Section membership benefits include social events & networking opportunities, discounted CLE admission, public service opportunities and the chance to help shape the future of the State Bar of Montana.

Contact: Katie Smithgall, Chair

Join the New Lawyers' Section as a Law Student Associate Member HERE

Nonprofit Law

The Nonprofit Law Section of the State Bar of Montana is established to carry out the mandates in the Preamble of the Constitution of the State Bar: "to foster and maintain on the part of those engaged in the practice of law high standards of . . . public service, and conduct” and "to provide a forum for the discussion of and effective action concerning subjects pertaining to the practice of law . . . and relations of the Bar to the public; and to insure that the responsibilities of the legal profession to the public are more effectively discharged.”

Contact: Christian Dietrich, Chair

Paralegal

Demonstrate to your employer and your employer’s clients that you are qualified to call yourself a paralegal in Montana; that you abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct, and that you are serious enough about your job responsibilities to seek continuing education to become a better paralegal. By continuing to update their education, paralegals can better understand the professional standards that they are required to follow; Obtain professional recognition from the State Bar of Montana; Serve as a resource for the members of the State Bar, the Montana Supreme Court, the judiciary, the legislature and the public with regard the paralegal profession in Montana; Serve as a liaison to the State Bar; Develop an understanding of ethical issues faced by attorneys, thereby enabling paralegals to contribute to the resolution of those issues; Receive discounts on seminar fees for a CLE’s sponsored by the Paralegal Section or the State Bar; Notification of continuing legal education courses offered by the Paralegal Section and the State Bar of Montana; Non-voting membership in the State Bar of Montana; CLE tracking by the State Bar of Montana; Receipt of The Montana Lawyer, the official publication of the State Bar and free access to Fastcase Legal Research.

Contact: Kathy Clark, Chair

Public Law

The purpose of the section is to represent the interests of attorneys who practice law as members of government agencies at all levels.

Contact: Michael A. Kakuk, Chair

Public Utilities Law

Provide a forum for Montana attorneys and eligible non-attorneys to discuss significant, specific and general developments in legislative, administrative and judicial fields affecting aspects of their practice involving state and federal public utilities law;

Contact: Shannon M. Heim, Chair

School Law

The purpose of the Section shall be to establish and maintain an organization of Montana lawyers and educators with an interest in the field of school law. The Section will provide a forum for the material exchange of information relevant to the practice of school law.

Contact: Elizabeth Kaleva, Chair

Veterans Law

The Section’s purpose is to establish and maintain a group of Montana attorneys to identify, coordinate and help resolve legal issues affecting our military veterans, including pro bono assistance. The Section will provide a forum to exchange information relevant to the practice of that area of the law.

Contact: Bruce Fain, Chair

Water Law

This Section's purpose, objectives and activities, while complimentary, are distinguishable from those of the existing Natural Resources Section, and therefore merit having a Water section apart from the Natural Resource Section. The reason for this is that Montana Water Law is unique in and of itself as evident by the fact that water has its own Court. This section is designed to focus on facilitating the member's understanding the activities of not only the Water Court, but also the Water Resource Division of the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, but also the legislature in order to enable members to more effectively advocate before these bodies. The depth and breadth of water law across the different bodies make it essential for a section of the bar exist so members can more narrowly focus on the issue in this field.

Contact: John Tietz, Chair

Women's Law

The purpose of the Section shall be to stimulate the interest and participation of lawyers and law students in legal and professional issues affecting women.

Contact: Courtney Lawellin, Chair