Montana Legal Services Association
Faculty Supervisor: Professor Cynthia Ford
Supervising Attorneys: Lou Villemez, Diana Garrett, Ed Higgins, Beth Hayes, Julie Sirrs (LITC)
Prerequisite: Professional Responsibility, Family Law, Federal Income Tax (for Low Income Taxpayer Clinic only)
Pre- or Co-Requisite: Tax Practice & Procedure (for Low Income Taxpayer Clinic only)
Areas of Emphases: Family Law; Housing Law; Consumer Law; Professional Responsibility; Public Benefits; Tax Law; Business Law; Negotiations; Research and writing; civil litigation; interviewing and counseling; problem-solving
- Conduct client interviews
- Research legal issues
- Draft correspondence, memoranda, pleadings and briefs
- Prepare for and attend settlement conferences and court hearings
- Negotiate with the IRS
The Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) provides access to justice for low-income clients in civil cases. Students assigned to this field placement are provided the opportunity to represent and provide legal advice to persons in a variety of civil legal matters including family, landlord - tenant, and consumer law. MLSA has a holistic approach to its clients, and attempts to meet all of their legal needs, which may include additional areas of practice such as public benefits, civil rights, and others. Students can expect to represent and advise low- income people in other areas of Montana through the use of video conferencing technology and other methods.
MLSA also offers students the opportunity to work with the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, where they advise and represent low-income taxpayers in Montana in controversies with the IRS. Students in this placement have the opportunity to apply their knowledge of tax law and procedure. Students gain experience in client counseling, negotiations, and, in some cases, litigation.
Students are fully integrated members of MLSA practice. Cases are assigned to the student and each student is expected to handle a variety of cases as if she/he were an associate. Students work under a supervising attorney but are given significant responsibility for their cases. They can expect to appear before District Court judges, Standing Masters, and Administrative Law Judges. In addition to the opportunity to use civil procedure, evidence, and litigation skills, students gain general practice skills such as client interview techniques, negotiation skills, document drafting, and legal research.