Helena- The Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) recently received a competitive award from the Mary Byron Project for its innovative domestic violence prevention efforts. MLSA received a cash award of $10,000. The Mary Byron Project has made the prestigious Celebrating Solutions award annually for fourteen years.
MLSA’s award was in recognition of the Survivor's Legal Project, which works to provide civil legal services free of charge to empower domestic violence survivors. Project attorneys help low income survivors obtain orders of protection, parenting plans, child support orders and other family law court orders distributing property and ensuring family security and stability. Research shows that the number one public service that reduces domestic abuse in the long term is women's access to legal assistance. MLSA utilizes innovative technology to expand the Project’s reach to survivors in isolated and remote areas of Montana that otherwise could not be reached. MLSA’s website, www.MontanaLawHelp.org provides information on a variety of legal issues relevant to survivors and includes informational articles, links to various resources and interactive court forms. To reach people without Internet access or who are fearful of using home computers, MLSA partners with the Montana Supreme Court to establish legal information kiosks in libraries, courthouses and other public places. Trained staff at these self-help kiosks help users find legal information. MLSA continues to incorporate new technological advances to enhance traditional forms of service delivery.
The Mary Byron Project, fostering innovations and strategies to end domestic violence, was established in memory of the young woman whose murder led to the creation of VINE, Victim Information and Notification Everyday. As a nationally recognized thought leader on domestic violence, the Mary Byron Project cultivates and supports efforts that extend beyond crisis management to attack the root causes of this epidemic and help build a safer and healthier society. Learn more at www.marybyronproject.org.
The Survivors Legal Project is just one way that MLSA provides equal justice to all Montanans. Civil legal aid from MLSA assures fairness for all in the justice system, regardless of how much money a person has, and helps Montanans protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families.