Legal Needs of Low Income Households in Montana

By: D. Michael Dale. Published by: Montana State Bar Association. Published in 2005

Link to PDF

From the data and interviews conducted statewide, low income households in Montana reported a mean number of 3.47 legal problems over the last year. Employment, housing, and family issues were the most common legal issues reported. There are roughly 207, 051 unmet legal needs in cases each year in Montana. 40,665 legal needs in cases are assisted by an attorney each year.

Highlights include:

  • Perceived discrimination was cited as a factor in approximately 32.8 percent of the legal issues identified by the respondents.
  • In 83.6 percent of the reported legal need situations, the household was not assisted by a lawyer. 16.4 percent of legal needs was addressed by an attorney and legal services programs provided assistance with 9.3 percent of the issues.
  • It is approximately 3 times more likely that a household with a family law problem will be represented than a household with other kinds of legal needs.
  • One of the main reasons that many of the respondents who reported legal needs did not receive legal help is that they did not seek it. The majority of respondents are also not aware of lawyer referral services, legal hotlines, legal resources websites, and the existence of a small claims court.
  • The satisfaction level of households who tried to get help but were rejected was very low and resulted in extremely negative attitudes towards the legal system.
  • There are variations in the number of legal problems households face depending on the region of the state.

Categories: General/Unspecified Clients, Legal Aid Attorneys, Legal Aid Practitioners, Policymakers and Funders, State-Specific

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