The University of Montana (School of Law)
The University of Montana School of Law prepares students for the people-oriented practice of law by integrating theory and practice in a competency-based curriculum; serves as the academic legal center in Montana; and contributes to the development of national, state, and tribal law and legal institutions through teaching, scholarship, and service.
In pursuit of this mission, the School of Law strives to:
- develop in its students the demonstrated ability to serve society as lawyers, to represent clients generally and in particular transactions, and to seek resolution of conflicts in appropriate forums;
- foster intellectual inquiry, knowledge of the law, fundamental professional skills, perspective on the role of law and lawyers in society, and the character and values necessary to serve society;
- support scholarship and provide professional service to Montana, tribal governments and communities, the nation, and the international community;
- emphasize those areas of law significant to the Rocky Mountain West, including natural resources, environmental, and Indian law;
- promote among students, faculty, and the profession a sense of community enriched by a diverse group of people devoted to freedom of inquiry and freedom of expression.
All law schools are not the same. We are reminded of this frequently by our professors who attended other law schools and by transfer students who began their law studies at other schools. They praise our supportive and relaxed atmosphere and our emphasis on coursework that applies to real-life situations. The atmosphere at UM and our approach to legal education are no accident. We work hard to make UM a special place to study law.
Good lawyers achieve competence through practice, critique and self-assessment. Our curriculum is built on the premise that the law is learned by being used, not just by being read. Our faculty, averaging more than 10 years of practice, have developed a unique curriculum integrating theory and practice.
At UM, you can pursue your academic and professional interests outside the classroom. A significant proportion of our students serve as research and teaching assistants for our faculty. You just might find yourself coauthoring an article for publication in a national law journal. If writing and editing interest you, the Montana Law Review or the Public Land and Resources Law Review might be right for you. Both journals are entirely student-run and feature articles written by academics, professionals, and students.
There are also several student-run groups that sponsor speakers and activities focused on different areas of the law. We have an Environmental Law Group, an International Law Society, and student chapters of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Montana Defense Trial Lawyers.
Many of our students are active in our general student government organization—the Student Bar Association—and in the Women's Law Caucus. Also, we have active chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Federalist Society.
If you want to devote some of your non-class hours to public service, there are several student organizations to welcome your efforts. Examples include the Edna Rankin Law Society, which sponsors speakers and charitable activities promoting civil liberties and cultural diversity, and the Native American Law Student Association. And if we do not already offer an activity you think would be worthwhile—organize your own!
In 1996, a couple of students were interested in bringing the Street Law Project to UM. The Street Law Project is an outreach program connecting law students with middle and high school students. The law students work with middle and high school teachers on projects that range from mock trials to discussing legal issues in literature to debates about the Bill of Rights. A few months after the program began, 20 students were involved and teachers in the community were lining up to participate.
The University of Montana rigorously pursues affirmative action to provide to all people the equal opportunity for education, employment, and participation in University activities without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital or family status, disability, or sexual orientation and seeks to employ and advance in employment qualified disabled veterans and veterans of the Vietnam Era. Responsibility for effecting equal opportunity accrues to all University administrators, faculty and staff. This responsibility includes assurance that employment and admission decisions, personnel actions, and administration of benefits to students and employees rests exclusively upon criteria that adhere to the principle of equal opportunity. The University will protect against retaliation of any individual who participates in any proceeding concerning alleged violations of laws, orders, or regulations requiring equal education and/or employment opportunity.
Two features distinguish the faculty of UM School of Law: their dedication to the students and their extensive and diverse backgrounds in practice. The faculty at UM are here for the students. Faculty attracted to UM are legal educators who seek a close, mentoring relationship with students. Each of our faculty members regularly teaches a full load of courses, and our curriculum is built around our full-time faculty, not adjunct, part-time faculty, or visiting faculty.
Our faculty are outstanding classroom teachers, and we excel when it comes to faculty/student contact outside the formal classroom. Almost every member of our faculty serves as a coach of a competitive team or adviser to a student organization—extending the contact of students with faculty in their areas of expertise. Whether it is Professor Ray Cross serving as the adviser to the Public Land and Resources Law Review or Professor Cynthia Ford coaching the ATLA Trial Team, students benefit from faculty involved in the life of the law school outside the classroom.
Beyond the classroom and the structured extracurricular activities, the congenial atmosphere of the law school and the accessibility of faculty encourage discussions outside class hours. Whether it is a question about class, advice on a law review article, guidance on seeking a job, or just time to chat, our faculty are there for the students.
While our faculty thrive on teaching, they are accomplished scholars, nationally recognized for their work in their specialized fields. They are the authors of books, treatises, and innumerable law review articles. They also have a long-standing commitment of service to the public, the bench, and the bar.
At other law schools, many professors begin teaching a few years out of school, after a judicial clerkship and a year or two of practice. Our UM professors average more than 10 years of practice before beginning their teaching careers. They left distinguished careers and successful practices to join the staff at UM. When it comes to integrating theory and practice, our faculty have done it. You will study Indian law under Professor Ray Cross, who served for a decade as legal counsel for the three Affiliated Tribes and before that as an attorney with the Native American Rights Fund. At UM, youwill be learning from lawyers who know what law practice is all about and who come to Montana with a national perspective borne of years of experience throughout the country.
The quality of your legal education depends more on the teaching skills of the faculty than on any other single factor. Certainly, modern facilities, large library holdings and impressive faculty publications are assets, but no factor is more critical than the proficiency of the faculty in the classroom. And that is where UM excels. We are teachers who recognize that our first commitment is to the education of our students. Since our founding in 1911, our mission has been to train the next generation of lawyers—an obligation we continue to honor.
We are one of the smallest law school faculties in the nation, but the depth and breadth of our experience is evident in the brief descriptions that follow. We have sought faculty with a diversity of geographic, educational, and practice backgrounds, but all of whom share a dedication to high-quality teaching.
Our faculty are dedicated teachers; they are not distracted by part-time law practices or by serving "of counsel" to big firms. Our faculty, which averages far more practice experience than most, gained their skills and knowledge from years of practice before turning to full-time teaching.
Within the first few days of class, your teachers will know you by name. By graduation, you will count several of them among your friends.
Our faculty has developed a curriculum nationally recognized for its effective integration of theory and practice. Whether it's the first-year course in Pretrial Advocacy, the upper-level elective in Public Regulation of Business, or the third-year clinical placement, you will not only study the law but will be asked to demonstrate your ability to use what you have learned. You will be assessed not on how well you have memorized details, but on your ability to synthesize what you have learned and employ it in addressing legal problems.
For example, besides studying the theory of contracts, corporations, and wills and probate, you will also apply your knowledge by drafting contracts, creating corporations, and preparing and probating wills. In environmental law, you won't just read cases and statutes, you'll be assigned "clients" to represent and advise in problems pulled from the pages of today's newspapers. Your clinical experience in your third year is your opportunity to pull together the law and skills you acquired in your first two years and apply it to live clients with real legal problems. This hands-on approach to legal education is not only how we think lawyers ought to be trained, it's what we know best. Our faculty, most of whom practiced for a decade or more before beginning their teaching careers, know what law practice is about and what skills are needed to serve clients and the legal system.
School name:The University of MontanaSchool of Law
Address:32 Campus Drive
Zip & city:MT 59812-6552 Montana
Address:32 Campus Drive
Zip & city:MT 59812-6552 Montana