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 …

MLSA’s Self-Help Law Unit: Empowering Clients to Advocate for Themselves

By Jillian Haynal, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, MLSA Self-Help Law UnitThe story is familiar. I hear it at least a few times every day. The client is crying. There is hurt, disappointment and panic in her voice. Her tears are justified because her world is crumbling. She’s just been served with court papers. …

What’s Technology Got to Do With It?

By Liz Keith, Pro Bono NetIn Montana and around the country, legal aid organizations, courts and their partners are seeing a large and growing number of people facing legal needs on their own. These individuals either do not qualify for legal aid or cannot be served because of insufficient resources, yet they can’t afford to …

A Vision for Justice- Justice Beth Baker, Montana Supreme Court

Recently I had the privilege of touring the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  Displayed there, within an elegantly somber and dimly lit rotunda, are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of our United States and the original Bill of Rights.  Just next door, in its own vaulted space, is one of few remaining copies in …

Services for the Self-Represented: Every State Needs a Strategy

By Richard Zorza, Self Represented Litigation NetworkIn recent years national access to justice leaders have come to realize that the access problem will never be solved unless we put in place a broad range of services for the self-represented.  In some courts 80 or 90% are self represented, and in some types of courts (such …