Attorneys and Staff

Attorneys


Jean Bearcrane
Attorney, Domestic Violence Law

Jean Bearcrane is a Billings-area native and lives on the nearby Crow Reservation.  Jean is a Crow tribal member.  She graduated from Marquette University Law School in 1984 and became a member of the Wisconsin Bar upon graduation.  Shortly after graduation, she returned to Billings and became a member of the Montana Bar in 1985.  Part of her legal career included teaching full-time for four years at MSU-Billings (formerly Eastern Montana College).  Since her return to Montana, Jean has been staff attorney for a number of the Montana tribes, serving as general counsel, special counsel, juvenile prosecutor, and attorney-prosecutor for domestic violence and sex assault crimes.  She also staffed the Browning MLSA office a number of years ago.  Her special interest and love are her six grandchildren, three of whom live in Billings and the other three who live on Rocky Boy’s Reservation and her many nieces and nephews.


Aubrey Bertram
Attorney, Indian Law

Aubrey Bertram received her J.D. with a focus in International Law and an LL.M in Environment and Natural Resource Law and Policy from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2016. During law school, she participated on the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Team and served as President of the Native American Law Students Association. Ms. Bertram interned with the pro bono program of the Denver Bar Association, helping Denver area residents access free and low cost legal help. While serving as a student attorney in DU’s Environmental Law clinic, Ms. Bertram worked with community groups from the Navajo and Hopi reservations to address environmental and cultural resource issues in their communities. Ms. Bertram's interest in Indian Law was further fostered by her involvement in Tribal Wills Projects on the Ute Mountain and Southern Ute reservations in 2014 and on the Crow reservation in 2016. 


Celia Blewett
Attorney, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic

Celia Blewett graduated from University of Washington School of Law in 2013. Prior to joining MLSA, Ms. Blewett was an associate at Foster Pepper PLLC in Seattle, primarily focused on Investment Management and Real Estate. While at Foster Pepper, she staffed a monthly legal aid clinic in a homeless shelter, and during law school she worked in several low income legal aid clinics and volunteered as a tax preparer for the United Way of King County. Before law school Ms. Blewett worked as a program coordinator at Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, a low income housing advocacy organization based in Seattle.


Kallie Dale-Ramos
Attorney, Medical Legal Partnership

Kallie Dale-Ramos received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 2015.  While at UT, Ms. Dale-Ramos represented clients during immigration proceedings and served as a human rights law scholar. Before starting at MLSA, Ms. Dale-Ramos was a legal fellow at the Indian Law Resource Center in Helena, advocating for legal reforms to increase tribal sovereignty in cases of violence against women.


Shannon Fuller
Attorney, Domestic Violence Law

Shannon Fuller received her J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law in 2014. Ms. Fuller interned with MLSA during law school, and enjoyed serving clients who had been affected by domestic violence. She was also involved in fundraising for the YWCA Pathways Program, which provides ongoing support to victims of domestic violence. Ms. Fuller particularly enjoys working with children and families, and has volunteered as a Girl Scout troop leader and a Cub Scout den leader.

When not working for MLSA, Ms. Fuller loves to read anything BUT law books, spending time with her family in the great outdoors, and singing in various community choirs throughout Missoula. She knows every lyric to every musical, and is known for breaking out in random song and dance routines (much to the embarrassment of her teenage daughter). Ms. Fuller is also the resident baker in the Missoula office, and loves to shower the staff with her delicious treats.


Diana E. Garrett
Supervising Attorney, Domestic Violence Law
Law School Clinical Supervisor

Diana E. Garrett is the Supervising Attorney for MLSA’s Domestic Violence Practice Group and she also supervises a clinical program for the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana. Ms. Garrett received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and received her J.D. in 2002 from the University of Montana School of Law (now the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana). Ms. Garrett is based in MLSA’s Missoula office and serves on the Montana Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, the Planet Kids Supervised Visitation Center Advisory Council, the Legal Issues Committee of the Ravalli County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the JUST RESPONSE (Missoula Justice System Coordinated Team Response to Intimate Partner Violence).


Amy Hall
Supervising Attorney, Housing Law

Amy Hall is MLSA's housing specialist and farm worker attorney. She also has experience representing domestic violence survivors. She received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. Before coming to MLSA, Ms. Hall worked at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., primarily in housing and farmworker law. Ms. Hall was recognized by the Montana Justice Foundation as one of its 2014 Champions of Justice, awarded for her extraordinary efforts on behalf of equal justice.


Joe Hardgrave
Supervising Attorney, Indian Law

Joe Hardgrave has represented clients in tribal courts since 2008. Mr. Hardgrave graduated from law school in South Florida, came to MLSA in 2008 as an AmeriCorps Legal Fellow working on the Indian Wills Project, then worked for a year at California Indian Legal Services.

Since his return to MLSA, Mr. Hardgrave has served as a public defender for the Northern Cheyenne and Crow, and now provides public defense services to Fort Belknap. In addition to defending clients charged with major crimes, he also handles all types of civil cases in tribal courts, including now at Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy's.


Beth Hayes
Attorney, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Project

Beth Hayes received her J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law in 2009. Ms. Hayes has previously worked with the Foreclosure Assistance Program, as a Triage Staff Attorney and an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellow at MLSA. She also currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project (MUD), and plays trumpet in the Missoula City Band and Missoula Community Concert Band.


Ed Higgins
Attorney, Triage

Ed Higgins received his J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law in 2000. After earning his law degree, he served as Judicial Staff Attorney to the Honorable John W. Larson. Mr. Higgins has been with MLSA since 2001 and has previously served as a Managing Attorney and Staff Attorney.

Mr. Higgins serves as a Volunteer Mediator at the Community Dispute Resolution Center of Missoula, where he is also a member of the Board of Directors. Additionally, he is the Vice Chair of the Western Montana Bar Association Pro Bono Committee, a member of the Missoula County Foster Care Review Board, and a member of the Montana Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission's Committee on Self Represented Litigants.

In 2016, Mr. Higgins received the George L. Bousliman Professionalism Award from the Montana State Bar. The Bousliman award recognizes lawyers who have established a reputation for professionalism and have demonstrated extraordinary professionalism by contributing time and resources to public service, public education, charitable or pro bono activities, and encouraging respect for the law and our legal system by making the legal system more accessible and responsive.


Bob LaRoche
Volunteer Attorney, Public Benefits Law

Bob LaRoche received his J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law in 1969. He has been working at MLSA since 1976, and had previously worked for MLSA from 1969-1973 as well.


Katy A. Reed
Attorney, Elder Justice

Katy A. Reed is an AmeriCorps Equal Justice Works Elder Law Fellow. Ms. Reed received her J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law and her undergraduate degree from the University of Montana. Her prior experience includes representing indigent defendants, working with survivors of violence on immigration issues, and advocating for low-income clients in housing and consumer law. Ms. Reed has also assisted incarcerated mothers with family law and interned with the Innocence Project Northwest. Prior to law school, Ms. Reed served as an AmeriCorps Justice for Montanans member at MLSA where she coordinated a pro bono program.


Heidi Sanders
Attorney, MT VLAN

Heidi Sanders was recently added to Montana Legal Services Association’s Victim Legal Assistance Network. As staff attorney, she is assisting victims of crime who face civil legal issues. Ms. Sanders is a 2016 graduate of the University of Montana’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law. She comes to MLSA from a clerkship with the Honorable Amy Eddy, 11th Judicial District Court judge.

Before attending law school, Ms. Sanders worked as a victim advocate serving survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Shewas raised in Helena and is excited to be living and practicing in her hometown.


Kathryn Seaton
Attorney, Domestic Violence Law

Kathryn Seaton received her J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law in 2016. During law school Ms. Seaton interned at Iowa Legal Aid where she worked directly with clients who had experienced domestic violence. Most recently, she was a legal intern at the Montana Supreme Court where she worked for Justice Beth Baker on Access to Justice Commission projects, including the Public Forum Series on access to justice issues as well as drafting a Forum Report summarizing the findings of that series to use in future advocacy efforts.  


Lindsey Simon
Attorney, Public Benefits Law

Lindsey Simon received her J.D. from the University of Idaho in 2008 and her LL.M. from the University of Washington in 2010. In law school, Ms. Simon interned in public defenders offices at both the county and state level in law school, and after graduating she spent one year as a research and writing attorney with the Federal Defenders of Idaho. Mostly recently, Ms. Simon was in private practice in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for six years, primarily focusing on real estate and commercial law litigation and transactions.

In 2012, Ms. Simon received the Denise O’Donnell Day Award from the Idaho State Bar for her pro bono representation of a single father who ultimately obtained a paternity order and award of primary custody of his child, over the mother’s assertions that he was not the biological father.


Erick Valencia
Staff Attorney, Agricultural Worker

Erick Valencia received his J.D. from Alexander Blewett III School of Law in 2017. During law school, Erick helped families apply for asylum, interned with the ACLU of Montana and served on its board, worked on consumer protection issues with Montana's Office of Consumer Protection, and worked as an Agricultural Worker outreach intern with MLSA. Prior to law school, he served as an AmeriCorps member with MLSA's Foreclosure Assistance Program for two years.


Louis C. Villemez
Supervising Attorney, Victim Rights

Lou Villemez graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1993 and spent the next 12 years as a Legal Aid attorney, first with Rappahannock Legal Services in Fredericksburg, Virginia and then with Montana Legal Services in Browning and Cut Bank.  From 2005 through 2016 Lou worked for Montana’s Area Agencies on Aging, through the DPHHS Legal Service Developer where he specialized in Elder Law, and he also contracted a diverse caseload with the Office of the Public Defender.  Lou is married with five children, and he enjoys bird hunting, flyfishing, and motorcycles.


Jessica Wilkerson
Attorney, Domestic Violence Law

Jessica Wilkerson graduated from Vermont Law School in 2012 with a J.D. and a Masters degree in Environmental Law and Policy. While in law school, she provided domestic violence prevention services to her community in Vermont. Just after graduating from law school, Jessica also interned with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Before coming to MLSA, she spent two years advocating for indigent clients with the Montana Office of the Public Defender in Anaconda, MT.

When not working at MLSA, Jessica enjoys getting outdoors to backpack or ski and spending time with her precious long-haired chihuahua/dachsund mix, Caliente.


Bree Williamson
Attorney, Domestic Violence Law

Bree Williamson graduated from the University of Montana School of Law in 2007. She has worked in Montana since graduation in criminal law, family law, and as a guardian ad litem. Bree is an eighth generation Montanan and grew up primarily in the Bitterroot Valley. Bree's favorite thing is spending time with her amazing family and friends. She also loves running, reading, and spending time outdoors under the Big Sky.


Staff

Administration

Dee Burnham – Accounting Technician

Shannon Fleetwood – Accounting Technician

Tim Frederick – IT Support Specialist

Emma O'Neil – Development Associate

Krista Partridge – Administrative Assistant

Dimitrios Tsolakidis – Office Assistant, Missoula

Advocacy

Alethea Brown – Program Assistant

Anna Chithelen – Legal Assistant

Stefanie Flynn – Legal Assistant

Yvonne Johnson – Program Assistant

Wendy Jungblut – Law Clerk

Angie Wagenhals – Pro Bono Coordinator

Community Engagement

Alex Clark – Community Outreach Assistant

Mel Fisher – Project Coordinator

Melissa Magnuson – Victim Rights Intake Navigator

Tracie Poindexter – Program Administrator

Mēghan Scott – AmeriCorps Coordinator

Eric Seepe – Intake Specialist

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