MLSA’s File Your Own Bankruptcy Program: A New Approach to Helping Debtors Find a Fresh Start

By: Jessie Lundberg, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, Montana Legal Services Association – Consumer Law Unit  Bankruptcy is a powerful word. It carries many connotations, most often negative. For many, it symbolizes failure. Crisis. Even personal and moral shortcomings. After all, what kind of a deadbeat runs up a bunch of bills they can’t pay?Everyday Montanans like:Bill, a Viet …

Bankruptcy in Montana: Increasing Demand Necessitates Innovation in Services

A large percentage of the clients that seek services from MLSA each year have some sort of consumer related issue. Of our clients with consumer issues, many of them are asking for assistance with filing for bankruptcy. What we experience at MLSA is similar to what Rural Dynamics Inc reported in their recent blog entry. …

Federal District Court Order Protects Montana’s Pro Se Litigants

By Judy Meadows, Montana State Law Librarian and Co-Chair, Montana Commission on Self-Represented LitigantsThe Montana Supreme Court’s Commission on Self-Represented Litigants (the Commission) and Montana Legal Services Association have spent years developing, reviewing, editing and approving legal forms that are easy to understand and compliant with state law. These forms are then posted on the …

Don’t Touch My Check! New Rule Protects Seniors, Veterans, and the Disabled From Creditors

By Klaus Sitte, MLSA Litigation DirectorJohn and Mary are “closely approaching advanced age,” in Social Security parlance, age 64 and 63 respectively. Because of a serious heart condition, John is disabled and receives Social Security Disability benefits of $1280 per month. Mary retired at age 62 because of John’s failing health. Mary gets about $850 per month Social …

The Root of Bankruptcy in Montana

By Jolene Bach, Rural Dynamics Inc.Last week, Montana Legal Services highlighted that the vast majority of consumers who file for bankruptcy do so as a direct result of medical debt and that three-quarters of those filers had private health insurance. Either these consumers were underinsured; were sick for an extended time period and lost their …

NeighborWorks Montana and Rural Dynamics, Inc., to Help Provide Mortgage Assistance Using HUD Funds

NeighborWorks Montana and Rural Dynamics, Inc., announced that they have been selected by NeighborWorks America in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help promote the Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program (EHLP) in the state of New York.Congress provided $1 billion dollars to HUD, as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street …

It is Time to Start a Consumer Law Conversation

Over the last few months, MLSA has spotlighted the importance of self-help resources for low-income Montanans. In doing so, we have emphasized the true need for access to the courts for those who are unrepresented.Now, we want to start a different, but related, conversation about consumer law issues. We want to get the community talking …

Increasing Access to Justice Takes a Village and an Arsenal

By Judy Meadows, Montana State Law Librarian and Co-Chair, Montana Commission on Self-Represented LitigantsThe Montana Commission on Self-Represented Litigants, created in 2000 by order of the Montana Supreme Court, has worked to create and approve easy to use forms for pro ses, as well as explanations of how to proceed in court. We have partnered …

Limited Scope Representation: Increasing Access for Pro Se Litigants

By Klaus Sitte, MLSA Litigation DirectorWho would have thought that the American Bar Association would participate in and encourage programs designed to help pro se litigants? After all, the ABA is a membership organization composed of lawyers, not pro se litigants, right? Well, that’s exactly what happened when the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence sponsored …