About the SBA

The SBA is the custodian of essential law school traditions. Some of these traditions date back to the foundation of the law school. Below is a list of the essential traditions and functions of the SBA at the law school.

Representing Students: The most important function of the SBA is to support students in their academic endeavors at the law school. The SBA is the most powerful student organization at the University of Montana School of Law. The SBA represents all enrolled students at the law school. All meetings of the SBA Executive Board are also open to all enrolled students. One of the SBA's primary functions is to listen to students and resolve any confusion and disputes that may arise as a result of attending law school. The SBA communicates regularly with the faculty and the administration to resolve and address any concerns the student body may have. Furthermore, the SBA also administers the distribution of study spaces at the law school. The building has many areas for study including isolated cubes and carrels. Every year the SBA organizes the individual distribution of these study spaces by soliciting student input. The SBA's primary function is to support students at the law school so they may excel in their studies and become valuable members of the future legal community both in Montana and nationally.

The State Bar: The University of Montana School of Law is the only law school in Montana and one of the premier and oldest institutions in the West. The SBA safeguards this legacy by maintaining a strong relationship with alumni and the state bar. Every month the state bar of Montana comes to the law school to host a roundtable discussion or lecture for the benefit of law students. These lectures and discussions are more practice oriented than other law school classes and provide an excellent opportunity for students to network with seasoned lawyers and gain insight to the practice of law in Montana and elsewhere. The SBA liaises and organizes these lectures with the State Bar.

Student Groups: The University of Montana School of law has a vibrant student community. In a school with less than 300 students the law school has over 16 registered student groups that are all organized under the SBA. Every year the SBA distributes more than $5000 in seed money to empower established and new student groups to grow and serve the law school community. The SBA also helps with marketing, organization and administration of several student group events. Many of the student groups have been around for more than a decade and raise thousands of dollars for the benefit of local and statewide charities. Joining a Student Group is a tremendous opportunity for students to explore a particular area of the law and meet new people. Supporting student groups are active all year around and they constitute a very important part of the SBA's function.

Pro Bono Fair: The SBA organizes the Pro Bono Fair every October. The fair hosts a variety of public interest groups that provide volunteer options for law students. Some of the organizations present at the fair are the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Crime Victim Advocates (CVA), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA).

Earth Week: Earth Week falls on the same day as Earth Day (4/22). Earth Week is organized by the Environmental Law Group with support from the SBA to raise awareness about sustainable living and development.

Barristers Ball: The Barristers Ball was founded in 1915 to collect money for law school scholarships for the law students. The Barristers Ball is also the only formal social event of the academic year that is organized and hosted by the SBA.

The Smoker: The Smoker is a treasured tradition at the law school. The Smoker is an annual roast in which law students get an opportunity to perform and poke fun at their professors, fellow students and the administration. The Smoker usually takes place at the end of law week in April.

Bertha: The School of Forestry was founded during the early 1930s. As a "Welcome to Campus" gift several law students stole the Foresters prized stuffed moose-head "Bertha." Every year since law school students have made the trek across campus to steal Bertha and respectfully desecrate their school. The Foresters then come to the law school to exact vengeance and kidnap the SBA president. A vital ritual of this tradition is the negotiations between the Foresters and the law students. The negotiations take place at a neutral location during which the law students and the foresters discuss demands for the return of Bertha and the SBA president. The Bertha usually takes place right before Spring break during the second semester of the academic year.  See the Appendix for more information about this tradition.

The Halloween Party: The Halloween party is the first SBA organized social event of the academic year. The Halloween Party has been a part of the law school's social calendar for many years. It is usually organized the Friday before Oct. 31st.

Fridays at 5: Another valued tradition at the law school are the Fridays at 5. Every Friday during the academic year the SBA and student groups host an informal gathering at a local bar to celebrate the end of the week with refreshments. The Friday at 5 is an opportunity for law students and faculty to come together and socialize in an informal setting. The SBA usually hosts the first Friday at 5 of the semester.