Legal Needs in Montana
Although 49% of low-income Montana households have at least one civil legal need, nearly half of those needs are unmet, according to a Legal Needs Study commissioned by the Montana Justice Foundation. Located across a geographically diverse and largely rural state, over 15% of all Montanans are income-eligible for MLSA services.
Dedicated MLSA attorneys and staff work extraordinarily hard for low-income Montanans with pressing civil legal needs. Despite this hard work, every day MLSA must turn away clients with legitimate legal needs due to lack of staffing and resources to adequately cover our vast state. Even with only 13 full-time casehandling attorneys and fewer than 40 total staff, MLSA provided services to over 3,700 people in 2012. However, MLSA had 8,595 requests for help in 2010, so for every act of help MLSA gives, it must turn away more.
MLSA continually develops innovative programming to attempt meeting the need, but because of lack of resources and staff, at the end of the day many low-income people with meritorious legal claims have no meaningful access to justice.
For more information on Montana's access to justice needs, see the legal needs studies posted on the Montana Justice Foundation website.
For more information on the natural partnership between civil legal aid and philanthropic efforts to improve bedrock economic, social and health conditions for low-income people, see Natural Allies: Philanthropy and Civil Legal Aid by the Public Welfare Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.