Barrister eBrief - September/October 2017

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Bar Pass Rate Jumps to 90%; Dean Kirgis Praises Student and Faculty Work

The Montana pass rate for first-time Blewett School of Law bar examinees has jumped to 90%, up from 81% in July 2016 and 68% in July 2015. “We are delighted to see such a high percentage of our graduates passing the Montana Bar on the first try,” said Dean Paul Kirgis. The overall Montana jurisdiction pass rate was 85%, and the school’s review suggests that non-UM takers passed at a 75% rate. “These numbers reflect a lot of hard work by students and faculty to adapt to the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) and they show that we are doing the right things to help our students pass this new test,” added Kirgis. “We’ve always believed in the quality of our students.”

The law school instituted a new bar preparation course two years ago open to all students, while faculty have reviewed both the curriculum as a whole and individual courses to ensure coverage of the topics most frequently tested on the UBE. "Without compromising our promise to deliver the best practical legal education available, we are making sure we give our students the tools and knowledge they need to pass the Bar," said Kirgis. “We are one of very few schools that provides one-on-one coaching for bar examinees during the summer as well as in the school year."

Public Lands and Resources Law Review tackles energy development on public lands in 2017 conference

The Public Lands and Resources Law Review will tackle the hot topic of energy development on America’s public lands during its biennial conference on October 12-13, 2017, “Bridging the Divides, Energy, Environment, and Empowerment in a New Era.” The conference features a keynote address by U.S. Department of Interior Principal Deputy Solicitor Daniel Jorjani and national renowned speaker Charles Wilkinson, Distinguished Professor and Moses Lasky Professor of Law at the University of Colorado School of Law. Professor Michelle Bryan noted the timeliness of the conference. “The goal of the conference is to bring together those with differing views in the hope that we can bridge divides and create a shared vision for how we manage our public resources, and that type of collaborative effort seems as timely as it’s ever been.” said Bryan. This year’s conference is made possible by generous support from NorthWestern Energy, Cloud Peak Energy, The Frank and Elvira Jestrab Fund, the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, the Natural Resources Section of the State Bar of Montana and the Shirt Shop. Click the button below for more information, or to register for 
this year’s conference. Read more.

As Congress Debates Tax Reform, 65th Annual Montana Tax Institute set for Nov. 3–4, 2017

The Montana Tax Institute returns for its 65th year November 3-4, 2017. With Congress set to take up proposed tax legislation later this fall attendees will receive cutting edge information on topics ranging from the prospects for tax reform in Washington, to solving tax and non-tax issues with Montana’s trust code, to wealth building, business transition issues and a host of other timely topics. The Montana Tax Institute is generously sponsored by US Bank, Wells Fargo, First Interstate Bank Wealth Management, and the Montana Community Foundation. Click on the button below for more information on the conference or to register. Read more.

Professor Emeritus Munro wins Career Achievement Award

Professor Emeritus Greg Munro was presented the Career Achievement Award by the Montana Trial Lawyers’ Association at the annual MTLA Convention in Missoula in August. The award was given: “For his enduring contributions to the citizens of Montana and the practice of Law as a lawyer for people, an inspiring teacher, a scholar and a mentor. For decades, the definitive answer to any MTLA member’s question on Montana insurance law has been Call Greg.’”

“This recognition means so much to me because the MTLA has for 42 years added so much to my education and professional life as a consumer lawyer and law professor,” said Munro. “I have collaborated with many MTLA members in litigating cases and garnered lifetime friends among its membership.”

Munro joined MTLA in 1975 when he entered a civil litigation practice in Billings. A long time board member for the organization, he joined the UM Law Faculty in 1988 and became President of MTLA in 1995. He has written over 30 insurance and tort law articles for the MTLA journal, TRIAL TRENDS, and has made over 30 CLE presentations on behalf of the organization during his career.

Mudd to depart law school, lead State Bar of Montana

John Mudd, Director of Development and Alumni Relations for the Blewett School of Law at UM has been named the new Executive Director of the State Bar of Montana, succeeding Chris Manos who is retiring after leading the organization for over sixteen years. “John has been an integral member of our team at the law school, from record fundraising to alumni engagement to modernizing the school’s communications, including the Montana Barrister Magazine,” said Dean Paul Kirgis. “While we are sad to see him leave, the relationship between the law school and the bar is vital and we are excited to continue to work with John in this new role.” Mudd reflected on his seven years with the law school. “It’s been a tremendous privilege to have the chance, in some small way, to help my alma mater,” Mudd said. “I’ve met so my wonderful and generous people who are committed helping others; I will carry those memories fondly as I begin this next chapter.” Mudd will start at the State Bar of Montana on January 2nd. 

Class of ’99 rallies behind classmate

Members of the Class of 1999 are rallying behind their classmate, Missoula attorney C.J. Johnson, who has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The class recently arranged for an event to support C.J. and his wife, Malin Stearns Johnson ‘04, who is an adjunct professor at the Blewett School of Law. “C.J. is just one of those people everyone loves,” said Kathleen DeSoto ’99, who serves on the School’s Board of Visitors. “He brings a smile to your face, and he is maintaining that wonderful attitude as he and Malin and their kids face this uncertainty.” DeSoto said the challenging situation brought classmates together to see what they could do to help. “I think it just says something about how close the classes at this school are and remain through the years, and that’s really a special thing.”