“The charitable arm of Montana’s legal system.”
With the holiday season just passed, I’d like to spend a few paragraphs discussing the Montana Justice Foundation. Before we begin, let’s visit their mission statement:
MJF’s Mission is to achieve equal access to justice for all Montanans through effective funding and leadership.
Notice the phrase “equal access to justice.”
It may be odd—and even uncomfortable—to perceive justice as something either “more” or “less” accessible. Shouldn’t justice be equally available for all Montanans? Of course, that’s the goal. Unfortunately, there are many variables like socio-economic class, a region of residency, and perhaps even ethnicity that makes equal access to justice a major challenge in Big Sky Country.
Truthfully, there are some populations of people that are more vulnerable than others. For example, a family of three living below the poverty line (less than $20,420/year) in northeast Montana will likely have a difficult time securing legal help.
Hypothetically, say the head-of-household had an injury at work and their employer refused to take responsibility for the accident. Not only will they have trouble locating legal representation in such a sparsely populated region, any council unwilling to work pro bono might exceed their financial capacity.
I’d say the individuals in this family (and others in similar situations) are at a legal disadvantage, where legal assistance is a clear logistical and financial challenge. These are the types of populations that the Montana Justice Foundations seeks to aid.
The organization is not a law firm; nor is it a state-sponsored agency. Rather, the Montana Justice Foundation is a non-profit that works with public and private entities to secure funds and administer grants. They allocate grant money towards various initiatives that promote pro bonolegal matters and increase public access to legal services.
To date, the organization has administered nearly 6 million dollars to Montana’s legal aid community. If you’d like to contribute the cause, or simply want to read more about the Montana Justice Foundation, here’s a link to their homepage: http://www.mtjustice.org/