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.

img_0298

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.

Fall 2013 (12)

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 daughter, and fur-baby Risdon and thinks there is nothing better than Missoula in the summer.

img_9975

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.

26731650_1878637502208955_1208318141171792705_n

Lael Gabrian recently joined Montana Legal Justice and is overjoyed to join the team and to be back in Missoula after spending the last two years in the Flathead. She is excited to help expand the firm’s areas of practice into Criminal Law and to continue her own work with access to justice for the people of Montana.

Lael spent the last two years working for the Office of the State Public Defender in Lake County where she defended indigent clients charged with felony and misdemeanor crimes, or those involved in dependency and neglect cases, involuntary commitments, and guardianships.

Lael is a native Montanan, born and raised on a ranch in southern Montana. She graduated with High Honors from the University of Montana with a double Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and Spanish in 2003.  After a brief stint in Yellowstone National Park, Lael became the manager of a local boutique.

She obtained her Juris Doctorate, along with a Natural Resources and Law Certificate, in May 2015 and was admitted to the Montana State Bar in the autumn of that year. During law school, Lael was active in various student groups including the Environmental Law Group, Women’s Law Caucus, and the Rural Advocacy League. While in school she interned at the Department of Natural Resources and worked as a Prosecutor for the Carbon County Attorney’s Office, where she discovered her interest in Criminal Law.

Lael enjoys exploring trails in hiking boots or on cross-country skis, shopping at thrift stores, remodeling her 1920’s house, playing scrabble, and causing a raucous with her book club.

img_0293

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!

img_0118

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.

img_3342

Risdon Hathaway is  furry assistant with MTLJ. He 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.

Previous Team Members

Meri Althauser is a former attorney/partner at Montana Legal Justice. She left MTLJ in January of 2018 to begin her own solo private practice, Forward Legal, PLLC. You can find her contact information at her website: https://www.forwardlegal406.com/.  

Trapper Althauser is a former furry assistant at MTLJ and has moved to Forward Legal, PLLC with Meri.

Jeff Wilson is 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.

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.