The results from a survey conducted by the Harris Poll, an American market research and analytics company, show that 91 percent of people believe legal fees are extremely expensive and wish there were alternatives to traditional lawyers.
We certainly understand the challenge of paying for an attorney, particularly after you’ve been injured and medical bills are piling up.
There are, however, options for Montanans who may need a legal question answered for free. What’s more, there are fee arrangements that allow injured people to receive additional legal help without paying a single cent until they recover damages.
Legal aid organizations in Montana
The United States Congress established the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in 1974. The purpose of LSC is to ensure equal access to justice for all Americans. LSC accomplishes this by providing funding to 132 independent legal aid organizations across the country.
Legal aid organizations offer free or reduced-cost legal services to qualifying individuals. To qualify, you generally have to have an income that’s less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level.
In Montana, legal aid organizations are located in the following cities:
|Montana legal aid organization locations|
616 Helena Avenue Suite 100
Helena, MT 59601
207 North Broadway Suite 430
Billings, MT 59101
1535 Liberty Lane Suite 110D
Missoula, MT 59802
Law school clinics in Montana
Most ABA-approved law schools have legal clinics that provide free legal services to qualifying individuals.
The legal services at a law school clinic are provided by law students under the supervision of law school professors and practicing attorneys. Some clinics offer all types of legal services, while other clinics handle a particular type of case (such as health law or tax law).
Montana only has one ABA-approved law school. The Alexander Blewett III School of Law is located in Missoula. The school tied for 103rd in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report law school rankings.
The Alexander Blewett III School of Law has three legal clinics offering free legal services in the areas of Indian law, veterans advocacy, and land use and natural resources.
State Bar of Montana
A bar association is a professional association of lawyers. Every state has a bar association.
The State Bar of Montana website provides free legal information and resources to the general public.
You can also contact the State Bar of Montana Lawyer Referral and Information Service at (406) 449-6577 or visit the Hire a Lawyer webpage to find a lawyer who may offer free or reduced-cost legal services.
Initial consultations are a great way to get answers to your basic legal questions. Because you and the attorney haven’t formed an attorney-client relationship yet, initial consultations are limited in depth. Nevertheless, the attorney can provide you with important information about your case.
Following your initial consultation, you should know:
- Whether you have a valid claim. The initial consultation will include a discussion of the facts and potential legal claims surrounding your issues (including whether the statute of limitations has run).
- Whether you need a lawyer. During an initial consultation, the lawyer will be able to tell you whether you need an attorney or whether you’re better off resolving the case on your own (or with the help of some other professional).
- What legal services will cost. An initial consultation should include a discussion of the legal fees the attorney may charge. In addition to providing some idea of the overall cost, the attorney should explain the fee arrangement (more on that below).
Initial consultations at Murphy Law Firm are always FREE.
Your First Meeting with an Attorney
A worksheet to prepare for your first meeting with a personal injury attorney – what to bring, what they'll ask
Download in PDF format
If you need additional help
You may be able to get your legal question answered for free, but most people have more than one question or need more legal guidance. Hiring a lawyer might not be as cost-prohibitive as you think.
Lawyers who handle personal injury cases typically use a contingent fee arrangement. In a contingent fee arrangement, your lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage of the money you recover. If you don’t recover any money (either through a verdict or settlement), you don’t owe your lawyer a penny for the work they performed on your case.
Contingent fee arrangements are great for plaintiffs who may be facing expensive post-accident costs (such as medical expenses, property damages, and lost wages) and are unable to pay a lawyer until after they recover some money.