Our Team

Montana Legal Justice attorneys ensure that our clients are informed, educated, and empowered during every step of their path to justice.

Our lawyers are approachable, accessible, and dedicated to specifically tailoring legal services to each of our client’s individual needs.

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Julie Brown is a co-founding attorney of Montana Legal Justice, PLLC. Julie graduated with honors from the University of Montana School of Law in May 2011.

Since starting Montana Legal Justice, Julie has focused her legal work on Dependency and Neglect Cases, Family Law and Appeals.  

During law school, Julie was a teacher’s assistant for legal research and writing and worked as a legal intern with the ACLU of Montana, assisting with the litigation of constitutional and civil rights cases.  

Julie received a Bachelors of Art in Anthropology from the University of Maryland in 1989 and a Masters of Art in Anthropology from the University of Colorado in 1992. She graduated from the University of Maryland with honors and was admitted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society in recognition of her high academic achievements.

 Julie’s life experience has been rich and diverse. She has conducted archaeological fieldwork in Israel, the Southeastern United States and in the Rocky Mountain west region. She also spent twelve years working in the United States Antarctic Program at McMurdo Station, Antarctica specializing in the logistics of cargo movement and field camp operations.

Regardless of where her work took her, Julie has always been passionate about issues of social justice and equal access to the law. Along with her broadness of life experience, these are the values Julie brings to her practice.

Julie is licensed to practice law in the State of Montana and the U.S. District Court of Montana.

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Meri Althauser joined Montana Legal Justice, PLLC, as a partner in July 2013.  Before joining Montana Legal Justice, Meri was an associate with Phillips Haffey, PC in Missoula, working on a variety of insurance and civil defense issues. Meri completed internships with the Missoula County Attorney’s Office prosecuting juvenile and dependent neglect cases, and with the Department of Justice primarily assisting with prosecuting cases under the Adam Walsh Act.  

During law school, Meri was a teaching assistant in the legal research, writing, and practical skills courses.  Meri graduated with honors from the University of Montana School of Law in June 2011 and is admitted to practice in all Montana State and Federal courts.

Prior to law school, Meri was a volunteer with Court Appointed Special Advocates of Missoula, and worked as a social worker with the Montana Department of Labor.  Seeing a need for competent representation for children, she attended Law School with the goal of developing a practice focusing on issues confronting families and children.

In her current practice, Meri has attended numerous training courses which aid her in determining the best interests of children. Meri has completed a certification course in Parenting Coordination through the Cooperative Parenting Institute which involved 20 hours of course work on drafting developmentally appropriate parenting plans, domestic violence intervention and safety planning, parental alienation issues, issues with personality disordered parents, anger management, attachment issues, assessing child safety, communication improvement, and the psychology of divorce. Meri has also completed 40 hours of mediation training, which helps her to help co-parents re-focus their dialogue on solution-finding and seeking out common ground. Meri has also completed 9 hours of Circle of Security attachment-based parenting classes and regularly attends parenting and childhood trauma awareness classes of all types. Meri also regularly attends continuing education courses in family law, domestic violence, parenting plans, and mediation/alternative dispute resolution. Meri provides training in children’s rights and the child protection legal process for CASA of Missoula.

Meri received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI in 2004, with a minor in Music.  She played in the Missoula Symphony for many years. She now enjoys spending time hiking, skiing, and backpacking with her husband Andy and daughters Ellie and Macy.  Their family also enjoys the lovable presence of their retired therapy dog Trapper.

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Shannon Hathaway has been with Montana Legal Justice since 2012, first as an intern and now as an attorney.Shannon graduated with honors from the University of Montana School of Law in May 2014 and was admitted to practice in all Montana state courts in September. Shannon is the staff attorney for MTLJ’s  Legal Advice Clinic. Shannon hopes to provide pro se litigants with affordable legal assistance to help navigate the complexities of our justice system.

Shannon graduated with honors and has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Montana in 2008. Before law school, Shannon worked in the mental health field, primarily with severely emotionally disturbed children. She worked for a non-profit foster care and adoption agency and at an elementary school through an organization committed to helping emotionally disturbed children on a day-to-day basis within the school setting. It was through counseling these children she found her passion for public interest work.

Throughout law school, Shannon remained committed to volunteering, spending her extra time at the Self-Help Law Center, Crime Victim’s Advocates and the Youth Homes. She was also a member of various student organizations, including the Montana Public Interest Law Coalition and the OUTlaws.

Shannon enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, her baby daughter, Evelyn, and fur-baby Risdon and thinks there is nothing better than Missoula in the summer.

 

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Lia Lopez is our office manager/legal assistant and has been with Montana Legal Justice since the fall of 2014. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Texas State University in 2004. A Texas native, Lia has enjoyed her migration through the southwest and up north to Montana over the last ten years. She has a diverse working background, but has always had a special interest in the law and our judicial system.

Lia enjoys spending time outdoors – hiking, backpacking, biking and playing on the river. She looks forward to continuing her outdoor education and expanding her activities to take advantage of what this Big Sky Country has to offer!

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Kelly Driscoll joined Montana Legal Justice in the fall of 2016 as the Internal Managing Attorney. Kelly is a third generation Montanan and was raised in Butte, Montana. She attended the University of Montana and graduated with high honors in 2010. Before law school, Kelly worked for an organization assisting victims of domestic violence. This experience drove her interest in working to close the access to justice gap in Montana. 

Kelly obtained a Juris Doctorate from the University of Montana School of Law, with honors, in 2014.  While in law school, Kelly represented students through the ASUM Legal Services, worked as a prosecutor for the Lewis and Clark County Attorney’s Office, and interned for the Honorable Jeremiah C. Lynch, U.S. Magistrate Judge, District of Montana. Following law school, Kelly clerked for the Honorable Chief Justice Mike McGrath of the Montana Supreme Court.

Kelly is admitted to practice in Montana’s state and federal courts.  In her spare time, Kelly enjoys baking, hiking, and spending time with her son, husband, and extended family.

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Westen Young is a legal intern at Montana Legal Justice.  He is a graduate of University of Montana with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology, and an Associates of Applied Sciences in Paralegal Studies.  Westen is in his second year of law school at Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana, and will graduate in 2018.  Westen was born and raised in Eastern Montana, where he grew up working on his family’s ranch.

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Risdon Hathaway is a miniature Australian Shepherd who loves to greet our clients and show them around the office. He enjoys napping on his bed, treats and hiking with his family up Pattee Canyon.

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Trapper Althauser is a yellow-lab/Shar-pei mix who is a licensed therapy dog and provides comfort to all those he meets. He loves to sleep on the chair in his mom’s office (even though he isn’t supposed to and is a little too big) and camping with his family in the summer.

Previous Team Members

Jeff Wilson was a former paralegal/legal intern at Montana Legal Justice who began working at MTLJ at its start.  Jeff graduated from the University of Montana School of Law in 2016 and currently works for the Office of Public Defender in Polson, MT

Jennifer A. Giuttari was a co-founding attorney of Montana Legal Justice, PLLC.  Jen previously served as Interim Legal Director and Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties (ACLU) of Montana.  Jen received her law degree from The University of Montana School of Law in December 2007.