Student Groups

American Civil Liberties Union Student Group

The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

These rights include:

  • Your First Amendment rights - freedom of speech, association and assembly; freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.
  • Your right to equal protection under the law - protection against unlawful discrimination.
  • Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.
  • Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.

The ACLU also works to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color; women; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people; prisoners; and people with disabilities.

American Constitution Society (ACS)

The American Constitution Society (ACS) believes that law should be a force to improve the lives of all people. ACS works for positive change by shaping debate on vitally important legal and constitutional issues through development and promotion of high-impact ideas to opinion leaders and the media; by building networks of lawyers, law students, judges and policymakers dedicated to those ideas; and by countering the activist conservative legal movement that has sought to erode our enduring constitutional values. By bringing together powerful, relevant ideas and passionate, talented people, ACS makes a difference in the constitutional, legal and public policy debates that shape our democracy.

Business and Intellectual Property Group

The Business and Intellectual Property Law Group provides an opportunity for UMSL students to directly engage business and legal professionals from our local Missoula community.  Our monthly meetings have featured speakers reflecting a diverse array of expertise, including: copyright and trademark law, entertainment law, legal/tax issues surrounding small business start-up and financing, international supply chain management for the #1 ranked Fortune 500 company (2013), and the business of running and growing a legal practice in Montana.  Our mission is to supplement the UMSL legal curriculum with practical insights while also providing networking opportunities with potential employers and clients

Christian Legal Society (CLS)

The Christian Legal Society at UMSL is Montana’s chapter of a nationwide membership organization of Christian attorneys, judges, paralegals, law students, and other legal professionals dedicated to serving Jesus Christ through the practice of law, defense of religious freedom, and provision of legal aid to the needy. The CLS meets regularly for bible study, prayer, and to organize events benefitting the well-being of the community.

Criminal Law Student Group (CLSG)

The Criminal Law Student Group was started to give students interested in criminal law a chance to develop a greater understanding of the challenges and rewards of both criminal prosecution and defense. The CLSG also seeks to educate the student body and the public about the ways in which the criminal justice system functions and contemporary issues in criminal law. Criminal cases account for more than 3/4 of all cases in trial courts, and about 1/2 the cases in appellate courts across the nation. In other words, it is the only area of law where significant opportunities to conduct trials are guaranteed. Many of the country’s most successful trial attorneys (Gerry Spence, for example), as well as a number of the country’s highest judges (Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Mike McGrath, for example) began their careers in criminal law. The CLSG provides insight into the details of the practice of criminal law, as well as significant opportunities to network with professionals currently practicing in the field.

Signature Event: The CLSG puts on a trip to the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge every year (sometimes twice a year), as well as a trip to the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs. The CLSG also hosts speakers twice a year; usually, one devoted to criminal defense issues, and one devoted to prosecution issues.

Environmental Law Group

The Environmental Law Group (ELG) was founded for the purpose of raising environmental consciousness within the legal community. One of our major focuses is to provide hands-on experience within the field of Environmental Law. To facilitate this goal, the group works to secure legal research projects with local environmental organizations, it matches student members with practicing environmental attorney mentors, and organizes a range of speakers who discuss current environmental topics. As a group, the ELG hosts an annual silent auction benefit for a different environmental non-profit each year, as well as sponsors trips to legal conferences, plans recreational outings, and participates in hands-on restoration activities.

Signature Events: Bulls Blues and Brews Silent Auction Fundraiser (October), ELG Lecture Series, Sponsor trip to the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference - PIELC (February, University of Oregon)

Federalist Society

The Federalist Society is a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order.  It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.  The Society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities.

Signature Event: None. But overall, we seek to host speakers pre-approved by the national chapter that engage in panels and debates to further the mission of the Federalist Society.

International Law Student Association

The objective of the International Law Student Association (ILSA) is: to introduce University of Montana Students to the diverse issues which encompass international law; to inform students of the wide variety of career opportunities within the field of international law; to assist students in their academic pursuit of international law studies; to support JESSUP; and to promote international law issues on campus and in the community.

Montana Public Interest Law Coalition

The Montana Public Interest Law Coalition (MPILC) recognizes imbalances in our justice system and strives to ensure advocacy of groups traditionally underrepresented. We are committed to promoting careers in public interest law by reducing economic challenges that impede promising lawyers dedicated to the duty of making legal services available to every person. To further our goals, MPILC promotes education about and awareness of public interest issues in our communities. MPILC sponsors panel discussions every semester to advise students on topics like working with challenging clients, and participating in the public service loan forgiveness program.

Montana Trial Lawyers Association

The Montana Trial Lawyers Association (MTLA) is committed to promoting fair and effective justice and preserving the civil jury trial system. We meet on a monthly basis to discuss what current events are relevant to our mission and how we can present these issues to the law school community. We facilitate a Civil Justice Week, with lawyers from the Montana legal community, who will speak about issues that are currently the most important to our mission. During this week there is also an exhibit on exhibits, which will demonstrate the many different ways that trial lawyers can present exhibits to the court with the help of technology and visual aids. The week wraps up with a showing of the documentary Hot Coffee, which shows what really happened behind the famous McDonalds case and also introduces the concept of tort reform.

National Black Law Student Association

The National Black Law Student Association (NBLSA) was founded in 1968 by Algernon Johnson at the New York University Law School.   NBLSA is a national organization formed to articulate and promote the needs and goals of black law students and bring change to the legal profession and community.  NBLSA is the largest student run organization in the United States with nearly 6,000 members and over 200 chapters organized in six regions. NBLSA promotes the education of law students to become social engineers, and is fully committed to grassroots advocacy and engagement. The University of Montana School of Law (UMSL) chapter was chartered on August 2012.  UMSL NBLSA was chartered with the tremendous support and dedication from Professor Gregory Munro, Dean Irma Russel, Jennifer McDonald (class of 2014), and Patricia Suleiman (class of 2014). For more information please contact the NBLSA President or Vice President (contact info available at:

National Lawyers Guild

The National Lawyers Guild is a nationwide network of law students, legal workers, and lawyers working for social and economic justice. We focus on progressive and radical social justice lawyering and prioritize issues related to poverty law, mass incarceration, queer issues, animal rights, environmental issues, immigration, racism, and class. All University of Montana student are welcome to join, whether or not you’re a law student.

The University of Montana’s student chapter of the National Lawyers Guild hosts an annual “DisOrientation to Law School”; “Know Your Rights” workshops; Legal Observer trainings and services; and educational panels open to the community. Additionally, members are encouraged to attend the Regional meeting in the Spring to meet other social justice lawyers and law students as well as the National Convention in late summer or fall.

Native American Law Student Association (NALSA)

The Native American Law Students Association was founded to promote the study of Federal Indian Law, Tribal Law and traditional forms of governance, and to support Native Americans in law school. We strive to reach out to Native communities and encourage Native People to pursue legal education. We also strive to educate the legal community about Native issues.

Signature Events: Once a year, NALSA hosts an auction in conjunction with Indian Law Week, a full week of speakers and events devoted to Native issues and law.

Outdoor Recreation Law Group (ORLG)

The Outdoor Recreation Law Group provides opportunities for law students to do what so many of us at the University of Montana’s Alexander Blewett III Law School love: getting outdoors and having a wild good time. Events such as skiing, rock-climbing, and mountain biking may be hosted periodically. Additionally, speakers on legal issues related to outdoor recreation are invited to give presentations to the law school. The group focuses on outdoor recreation law, including (but not limited to): non-profit organizations (both 501(c)(3) and otherwise); legal matters relative to the U.S. Forest Service, the BLM, National Parks and Monuments, and State sovereignty; public access issues; vendor relationships, processes, procedures, and administrative rules relative to the aforementioned entities; legal matters concerning outdoor recreation products, including testing, liability, risk, and case law.


OUTlaws is the student organization committed to advancing the legal rights of the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex) community. The group is open to all students regardless of their sexuality.

Signature Events: During the fall semester, OUTlaws hosts the Drag Karaoke Gong Show to help raise funds for other Montana organizations that support LGBTQI issues. During the week of the Gong Show, a few professors have their names placed on jars at student services. Students “vote” with their money, and the professor with the most money in his or her jar performs for everyone’s enjoyment at the Gong Show! They are judged by a panel of drag queens and kings and the professor who “won” last years jar fundraiser competition. OUTlaws also hosts a panel discussion during spring semester, which focuses on LGBTQI issues such as the right to marriage.

Phi Delta Phi, The International Legal Honor Society Clayberg Inn

Phi Delta Phi is an International Legal Honor Society dedicated to maintaining the high standards of professional ethics, integrity, character, and responsibility in the legal profession. It is the oldest and most prestigious legal honor society in the world. The Clayberg Inn, UMSL’s chapter, meets on a semi-monthly basis to discuss, plan, and promote ethically centered, philanthropic and scholastic events that connect the law school with the larger Missoula community through charity and light-hearted competition.

Signature Events: Canned Immunity Food Drive, Annual Caroling Extravaganza, both central events in the life of the law school.

Rural Advocacy League (RAL)

The Rural Advocacy League is committed to empowering rural areas through effective legal advocacy, increased awareness of rural issues, and improved communication between rural citizens and public policy makers. The members of the League are devoted to identifying and removing legal, economic, social, educational, and cultural barriers to rural advancement. Above all, the League is dedicated to assisting those leaders that work to build and maintain strong communities throughout rural America.

We host Rural Advocacy Week every spring to discuss pressing issues facing rural Montana. Past panel discussions have included topics such as: eminent domain, bison regulation, rural healthcare, CSKT water rights compact, open range laws, and renewable energy.

As a member of Rural Advocacy League at the University of Montana you will be afforded a unique opportunity to consider a broad range of issues and help provide valuable information to rural community members.

Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF)

The Student Animal Legal Defense Fund is proud to work towards greater protection of animals both nationally and here in Montana.  This is done through the legal system and general advocacy efforts within the Missoula community.  Specific efforts of the last few years include ensuring adequate enforcement of anti-cruelty laws, volunteering at the Humane Society, and working with Footloose Montana on the campaign for trap-free public lands.  Benefits of being part of the SALDF include continual awareness of groundbreaking animal-abuse lawsuits, and taking a leadership role in protecting animals without overburdening your already busy schedule.

Signature Event: Yearly Friday at 5 (Fall), Footloose fundraiser, Humane Society Volunteer Day (Spring)

Veteran Law Group

Veteran Law Group (VLG) is committed to educating the public and legal community on issues involving veterans and their families. Events that support our mission include member social and fundraising events, and community service. VLG membership is an opportunity to learn about a specialized area of the law and the unique issues impacting the veteran community, and develop lasting friendships that support members in law school and as they transition into the legal profession.

Women's Law Caucus

The Women’s Law Caucus (WLC) is committed to engaging in issues affecting women, families, and the law. We meet on a monthly basis to discuss the projects that we are working on and connecting students with volunteer opportunities throughout the community. The WLC partners with The Missoula Self-Help Law Center, Crime Victim Advocates, DOVES, and CASA to provide volunteer opportunities.

Signature Event: Every spring, the WLC holds a Silent Auction that provides the majority of the yearly support for the YWCA Pathways Program, which helps provide housing to women seeking the aid of the YWCA. These opportunities allow students valuable opportunities to make connections in the Missoula community, not only with the people of Missoula, but also the lawyers they work beside.