The lawyer code of ethics encourages all lawyers to donate up to 50 hours a year of free pro bono services. Pro bono is when a lawyer represents a client without a fee. Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath explains how many hours lawyers in Montana are donating.

“One of the things that we do is we collect that information,” said McGrath. “Lawyers fill out reports each year in terms of how many hours they have donated and we put that together in a report. Last year, state wide, we had lawyers that donated 143,000 hours of free services.”

According to McGrath, Missoula is one of the better communities in terms of providing free services in the state.

“In the Missoula area, lawyers donated 22,000 hours of free legal services last year alone,” McGrath said. “It is a very substantial contribution to the community. The problem is, it is not enough to meet the legal needs that are out there for particularly low and moderate income individuals.”

McGrath says they will be asking the legislator to add a district judge in Missoula, and possibly Kalispell, to address the justice gap in Montana.

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