Definitions by Area of Law
Information Center
Adoption: Adoption refers to when an adult becomes the Guardian of a child and has the rights and reponsibilities of a parent and terminates any legal rights in existence with the natural parent(s). Includes Agency Adoptions, Independent Adoptions, Identidied Adoptions, International Adoptions, Stepparent Adoptions, Same-Sex Adoptions, Relative (Kinship) Adoptions, Adult Adoptions and Grandparent Adoptions.

Agricultural: (Ag Law) Includes Agribusiness, Agricultural Cooperatives, Agricultural Finance, Agricultural Litigation, Crop Damage, Farm and Ranch Law, Food and Agriculture, Food Labeling and Inspection, Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA), Beverage Law, issues involving the State and Federal Departments of Agriculture.

Animal: Deals with issues pertaining to animals. Includes Companion Animals, Wildlife, Animals used in Entertainment, Animals Raised for Food and Research.

Appeals: Reviews the decisions of lower courts to be affirmed, reversed, remanded or modified. Includes Civil and Criminal Appeals.

Arbitration: Arbitration is the resolution of disputes outside the courts with a third party that reviews the evidence in the case and makes a decision that is legally binding on both sides and enforceable in the courts.

Banking: Covers the state and federal regulations governing financial institutions. Includes Banking Litigation, Banking Regulation, Banks and Banking, Commercial Banking, Commercial Loans, Consumer Banking, Credit, Financial Law, Lender Law, Lender Liability, Lending, Letters of Credit, Loan Restructuring, Loans, Secured Lending and Truth in Lending.

Bankruptcy: For a person or other entity that cannot repay the debts it owes to creditors. Includes Bankruptcy Chapter 7, Bankruptcy Chapter 11, Bankruptcy Chapter 13, Bankruptcy Litigation, Bankruptcy Reorganization, Business Bankruptcy, Commercial Bankruptcy, Consumer Bankruptcy, Creditor Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, Insolvency, Personal Bankruptcy, Receiverships and Workouts.

Business: Includes Business Formation, Business Litigation, Business Planning, Business Reorganization, Business Start-Ups, Closely-Held Business Law, Franchise Law, International Business Law, Joint Ventures, Limited Liability Company Law, Partnership Law, Privatization and Small Business Law.

Civil (General): Of or relating to the State or its citizenry, citizens and their interrelations with one another or the State, rights of private individuals and legal proceedings concerning these rights as distinguished from Criminal, Military, or International Proceedings. Please see additional definitions for Appeals, Civil Litigation, Municipal and Slander/ Defamation.

Civil Litigation: A dispute between two or more parties that seek money or specific actions rather than criminal sanctions.

Collections: Circumstances where one party is unable to pay a monetary debt to another and may use judicial and statutory processes to have debts satisfied.

Commercial: Applies to the rights, relations, and conduct of persons and businesses involved in commerce, merchandising, trade, and sales. Includes Commercial Arbitration, Commercial Fraud, Commercial Liability, Commercial Litigation, Commercial Torts, Commercial Transactions, International Commercial Law, Negotiable Instruments, Sale of Goods, Secured Transactions and Uniform Commercial Code.

Compensation: Provides workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own with monetary payments for a given period of time or until they find a new job.

Construction: Deals with matters relating to building construction, engineering and related fields. Includes contract, negligence, bonds and bonding, guarantees and sureties, liens and other security interests, tendering, construction claims, and related consultancy contracts.

Consumer: Laws designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade, competition and accurate information in the marketplace. Includes the protections listed in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Truth in Lending Act, Fair Credit Billing Act, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Contracts: An agreement creating obligations enforceable by law. Includes Breach of Contract, Commercial Contracts, Contract Fraud, Contract Litigation, International Commercial Contracts and International Contracts.

Corporate: Creation of new businesses and the issues that arise as existing businesses interact with the public, other companies, and the government.

Criminal: Relates to crime and prescribes whatever is threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the property, health, safety, and moral welfare of people. Includes Assault and Battery, Capital Offenses, Criminal Appeals, Criminal Defense, Criminal Fraud, Domestic Violence, Drug Crimes, DUI/DWI, Federal Criminal Law, Felonies, Homicide, Juvenile Law, Misdemeanors, Murder, Sex Crimes, Sexual Assault, Traffic Violations and Weapons Charges.

Divorce: Also known as the dissolution of marriage, dissolves the bonds of matrimony between a married couple. Includes contested divorce, At-fault Divorce, Summary Divorce, No-fault Divorce, Uncontested Divorce, Collaborative Divorce and Mediated Divorce.

Domestic Violence: Domestic violence, also domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence and intimate partner violence, is a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic context, such as in marriage or cohabitation. Domestic violence can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Domestic violence can take a number of forms including physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse.

Drug Offenses: Willfully possessing illegal controlled substances, possession of chemicals used in drug manufacturing, as well as certain accessories related to drug use.

DUI: Driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), drunk driving, operating under the influence, drinking and driving, or impaired driving is the crime of driving a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol and/or other drugs including those prescribed by physicians.

Elder: Emphasis on those issues that affect the growing aging population. Includes Advance Directives, Age Discrimination, Aged and Aging, Elder Abuse, Elder Care, Elder Guardianship, Elder Rights, Estate Planning for the Elderly and Medicaid Hearings.

Employee Benefits: Various types of non-wage compensation provided to employees in addition to their normal wages or salaries. Includes Cash Balance Plans, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), Deferred Compensation, Disability Benefits, Employee Compensation, Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), ERISA Litigation, Executive Compensation, Health Benefits, Pension and Profit Sharing Plans, Pension Plans, Retirement Benefit Plans and Veterans Benefits.

Employment: All areas of the employer/employee relationship. Includes Collective Bargaining, Employment Contracts, Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Employment Litigation, Equal Employment Opportunity Law, Family and Medical Leave Act, Labor Law, Labor Relations, Sexual Harassment, Wage and Hour Law and Wrongful Termination.

Employment & Labor: Established to protect the rights of employees, Employment Law covers all aspects of employer and employee relationships (except the negotion process covered by Labor Law and Collective Bargaining). Labor Law mediates the relationship between workers (employees), employes, trade unions and the government. Please see additional definitions for Compensation, Employee Benefits, Employment and Immigration.

Environmental: Effects of human activity on the natural environment. Includes Air Quality, Brownfields Redevelopment, Environmental Cleanup, Environmental Compliance, Environmental Insurance, Environmental Litigation, Environmental Regulation, Hazardous Waste, Pollution, Solid Waste, Superfund, Water Quality, Wetlands.

Estate & Probate: Legal process in which a will is reviewed to determined whether it is valid and authentic. Probate also refers to the general administering of a deceased person's will or the estate of a deceased person without a will. Please see definitions for Estate Planning, Probate Administration, Trusts and Wills.

Estate Planning: The process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during a person's life. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a valid will to maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.

Family Law: Deals with family matters eand domestic relations, including: marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships; adoption and surrogacy; child abuse and child abduction; termination of relationships and ancillary matters (including Divorce, Annulment, Property Settlements, Alimony, Child Custody/ Parenting Plans, Visitation, Alimony Awards); juvenile adjudication; paternity testing and paternity fraud. Please see definitions for Adoption, Divorce, Elder, Guardianship and Parenting/ Child Support.

Finance: Deals with the allocation of assets and liabilities over time under conditions of certainty and uncertainty. Includes Asset Based Finance, Commercial Finance, Corporate Finance, Equipment Finance and Leasing, Financial Institutions Law, International Finance, Municipal Bonds, Municipal Finance, Project Finance, Public Finance, Secured Finance, Securitization, Structured Finance and Tax Exempt Finance.

Finance & Banking: Banking Litigation, Banking Regulation, Banks and Banking, Commercial Banking, Commercial Loans, Consumer Banking, Credit, Financial Law, Lender Law, Lender Liability, Lending, Letters of Credit, Loan Restructuring, Loans, Secured Lending, Truth in Lending, Asset Based Finance, Commercial Finance, Corporate Finance, Equipment Finance and Leasing, Financial Institutions Law, International Finance, Municipal Bonds, Municipal Finance, Project Finance, Public Finance, Secured Finance, Securitization, Structured Finance and Tax Exempt Finance. Please see additional definitions for Banking, Bankruptcy, Finance and Taxation.

Franchise: Laws that protect potential franchise buyers and sellers. Includes Disclosure Laws, Registration Laws and Relationship Laws.

Government: Addresses government interactions on a national scale, and is largely composed of administrative law and constitutional law. Includes False Claims Act, Federal Government Law, Federal Tort Claims, Government Affairs, Government Investigations, Government Relations, Government Tort Liability, Governmental Law, Legislative Practice, Local Government Law, Public Policy, Qui Tam Litigation and State Government.

Government & Tribes: False Claims Act, Federal Government Law, Federal Tort Claims, Government Affairs, Government Investigations, Government Relations, Government Tort Liability, Governmental Law, Legislative Practice, Local Government Law, Public Policy, Qui Tam Litigation and State Government. Please see additional definitions for Government and Tribal Law.

Guardianship: A legal guardian is a person who has the legal authority and the corresponding duty to care for the personal and property interests of another person, called a ward. Includes Guardianship for an Incapacitated Senior, Guardianship for a Minor and Guardianship for Developmentally Disabled Adults.

Health: Please see additional definitions for Health Care, HIPAA, Medicare/ Medicaid and Mental Health.

Health Care: Federal, state, and local law, rules and regulations among providers, payers and vendors to the health care industry and its patients; and delivery of health care services; all with an emphasis on operations, regulatory and transactional issues. Includes Health Care Fraud, Health Care Licensing, Health Care Litigation, Health Care Regulation, Health Insurance, Health Law, HIPAA, Hospital Law, Hospital Liability, Hospital Negligence, Long Term Care, Managed Care, Medicaid Planning, Medicare and Medicaid and Mental Health Law.

HIPAA: HIPAA is the United States Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. There are two sections to the Act. HIPAA Title I deals with protecting health insurance coverage for people who lose or change jobs. HIPAA Title II includes an administrative explanation section which deals with the standardization of healthcare-related information systems.

Immigration: The movement of people into a country which they are not native from, in order to settle there, especially as permanent residents or future citizens. Includes Asylum, Business Immigration, Citizenship, Consular Law, Deportation, Employment Authorizations, Employment Immigration, Employment Visas, Family Immigration, Investor Visas, Labor Certifications, Permanent Visas, Political Asylum, Refugee Law, Removal Proceedings and Visas.

Injury: Any wrong or damage done to another. This relates to person, rights, reputation or property. Please see additional definitions for Motor Vehicle, Personal Injury and Product Liability.

Insurance: An agreement which a person makes regular payments to a company, and the company promises to pay money if the person is injured or dies, or to pay money equal to the value of something (such as a house or car) if it is damaged, lost, or stolen. Includes Automobile Insurance, Casualty Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Fidelity and Surety, General Liability, Insurance Bad Faith, Insurance Coverage, Insurance Defense, Insurance Fraud, Insurance Litigation, Insurance Regulation, Life and Health Insurance, Property Insurance, Reinsurance and Subrogation.

Investment & Securities: Includes Capital Markets, Emerging Markets, Financial Services Law, Foreign Investment, Hedge Funds, International Investment, Investment Company Law, Investment Fraud, Investment Management, Investment Regulation, Mezzanine Finance, Mutual Funds, Private Equity and Venture Capital.

Labor Law: Includes Collective Bargaining, Employment Contracts, Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Employment Litigation, Equal Employment Opportunity Law, Family and Medical Leave Act, Labor Relations, Sexual Harassment, Wage and Hour Law, Wrongful Termination

Landlord & Tenant: Details the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants.

Limited Scope: Limited Scope representation is an arrangement with a lawyer to receive help with parts of a case for a decided fee or limited fees. Also known as unbundled legal services, unbundling, limited scope assistance, or discrete task representation. Please also see the definition for Reduced Fee.

Major Crimes: Criminal Law refers to federal and state rules which prohibit behavior the government deems harmful to society. If one engages, they may be found guilty of a crime and prosecuted in criminal court. Generally, crime can be divided into four categories: personal, property, inchoate and Statuatory. Personal crimes, offenses against a person which result in physical or mental harm to another (assault, battery, false imprisonment, kidnapping, homicide, rape). Property crimes, offenses against ones property are crimes that do not necessarily involve harm to another person but rather involve an interference with another person's rights to use or enjoy their property (larceny/ theft, robbery, burglary, arson, embezzlement, forgery, false pretenses, receipt of stolen goods). Inchoate crimes, are crimes that were begun but never completed, this requires a person to take a substantial step to complete a crime as opposed to having the "intent" to commit a crime (attempt, solicitation, conspiracy). Statutory crimes are a violation of a specific state or federal statute that can involve property or personal offense (alcohol related crimes, selling alchol to a minor).

Malpractice: Improper, illegal, or negligent professional activity or treatment by a medical practioner, lawyer or public official. Please see additional definitions of Legal, Medical and Professional.

Malpractice- Legal: Includes Attorney Discipline, Attorney Errors and Omissions, Attorney Fee Disputes, Attorney Grievances, Conflicts of Interest, Judicial Discipline, Legal Ethics, Legal Malpractice,
Legal Malpractice Defense, Legal Negligence and Legal Professional Liability.

Malpractice- Medical: In Montana, the Montana Medical Legal Panel was formed to prevent (where possible) the filing in court of actions against health care providers and their employees for professional liability in situations where the facts do not permit at least a reasonable inference of malpractice and to make possible the fair and equitable disposition of such claims against health care providers as are or reasonably may be well founded (27-6-102). This panel shall review all malpractice claims or potential claims against health care providers with the exception of (1)claims subject to valid arbitration agreement allowed by law or upon which suit has been filed prior to April 19, 1977 or (2) a claim brought by an inmate of a correctional facility against a health care provider arising from a health care service provided by the health care provider within the facility. Please see for more information on Medical Malpractice claims in Montana, process of filing the claim, steps taken after a claim is filed and the review process used by the MMLP. Medical Malpractice includes Birth Injuries, Birth Trauma, Dental Malpractice, Failure to Diagnose, Medical-Legal, Medical Liability, Medical Malpractice Defense, Medical Negligence, Military Medical Malpractice, Nursing Malpractice, Obstetric Malpractice, Pediatric Malpractice and Pharmacists Liability.

Malpractice- Professional: An instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of a professional. Includes Legal Malpractice and Medical Malpractice.

Litigation: Includes Civil Litigation, Complex Litigation, Defense Litigation, Federal Civil Litigation, Federal Litigation, International Litigation, Long-arm Litigation, Trial Practice, U.S. Supreme Court Litigation

Mediation: Mediation is a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties with a neutral third party and facilitates rather than directs the process.

Medicare & Medicaid: Medicare is a national social insurance program, administered by the U.S. federal government and provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older who have worked and paid into the system. It also provides health insurance to younger people with disabilities. Medicaid is a government insurance program for persons of all ages whose income and resources are insufficient to pay for health care.

Mental Health: Deals with people with a diagnosis or possible diagnosis of a mental health condition, and to those involved in managing or treating such people.

Military: The body of laws, rules and regulations that have been developed to meet the needs of the military. It encompasses service in the military, the constitutional rights of service members, the military criminal justice system and the International Law of armed conflict. Please see additional definitions for Military Law and Veterans Issues.

Military Law: Includes Military Administrative Law, Military Base Closures, Military Base Conversions, Military Courts Martial, Military Criminal Law, Military Housing, Military Justice, Military Medical Malpractice, National Security, Veterans Appeals, Veterans Benefits, Veterans Disability Law and Veterans Rights.

Motor Vehicle: Occurs when a vehicle collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other stationary object, such as a tree or utility pole. Traffic collisions may result in injury, death, vehicle damage, and property damage.

Municipal: The national, domestic, or internal law of a sovereign state defined in opposition to international law. Municipal law includes not only law at the national level, but law at the state, provincial, territorial, regional or local levels.

Natural Resources: Includes Coal Mining, Conservation Law, Drainage and Levee Law, Forestry Law, Mine Safety, Mineral Law, Mineral Rights, Mining Law, Natural Gas, Oil and Gas, Oil and Gas Litigation, Petroleum Law, Public Land Law, Riparian Rights, Timber and Logging Law, Water Law, Water Rights, Occupational Safety Health includes Industrial Accidents, Occupational Injuries and OSHA.

Parenting & Child Support: The legal and practical relationship between a parent and their child, such as the right of the parent to make decisions for the child, and the parent's duty to care for the child. Child Support is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child following the end of a marriage or other relationship.

Personal Injury: Includes Accidents, Automobile Accidents, Brain Injury, Catastrophic Injury, Dog Bites, Head Injury, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Nursing Home Litigation, Personal Injury Defense, Plaintiffs Personal Injury, Sexual Abuse, Slip and Fall, Spinal Injury, Wrongful DeathProducts Liability includes Automotive Products Liability, Breast Implant Litigation, Drug Litigation, Drug and Medical Device Litigation, Explosions, Food Products Liability, Lemon Law, Manufacturers Liability, Pharmaceutical Litigation, Product Defects, Products Liability Defense, Warranty Law.

Probate Administration: A process that proves the will of a deceased person is valid, so that their property can transfer to beneficiaries of the will.

Product Liability: Manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers, and others who make products available to the public are held responsible for the injuries those products cause. Product liability law provides the victims of dangerous products with legal recourse for any injuries suffered.

Property & Natural Resources: Property law is the area of law that governs the various forms of ownership and tenancy in real property (land as distinct from personal or movable possessions) and in personal property, within the common legal system. Natural Resources encompass land, fish, wildlife, biota, air, water, ground water, drinking water supplies, and other such resources belonging to, managed by, held in trust by, appertaining to, or otherwise controlled by the United States, and State of local government, or any foreign governemnt. Please see additional definitions for Agricultural, Animal, Environmental, Natural Resources, Real Estate- General and Water Rights.

Real Estate- Foreclosure: A lender attempts to recover the balance of a loan from a borrower who has stopped making payments by forcing the sale of the house used as the insurance for the loan.

Real Estate- General: Includes Commercial Real Estate, Condominium Law, Cooperative Housing Law, Easements, Homeowners Association Law, Real Estate Development, Real Estate Finance, Real Estate Leasing, Real Estate Litigation, Real Property, Residential Real Estate and Shopping Center Law.

Reduced Fee: Professional work undertaken voluntarily at a reduced fee as a public service. Please also see the definition for Limited Scope.

Sex Discrimination & Harassment: Also known as gender discrimination is prejudice or discrimination based on a person's sex or gender. Bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. Harassment can include "sexual harassment" or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Slander & Defamation: A false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.

Social Security: Encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs. Includes Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicare, Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Taxation: Includes Criminal Taxation, Estate and Gift Taxation, Federal Taxation, Generation Skipping Tax, Income Tax, International Taxation, Local Taxation, Property Tax, Sales and Use Tax, State Taxation, Tax Appeals, Tax Audits, Tax Controversies, Tax Credits, Tax Law, Tax Litigation and Tax Planning.

Trademarks, Patents & Copyrights: Protects a commercial identity or brand by discouraging others from adopting a name or logo that is "confusingly similar" to an existing trademark.

Traffic Violations: Also known as a moving violation is any violation of the law committed by the driver of a vehicle while it is in motion.

Transportation: Movement of people, animals or goods from one place to another. Includes Cargo Claims, Carriage of Goods, Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), Motor Carrier Law, Motor Carrier Liability, Railroad Accidents, Railroad Law, Railroad Litigation, Transportation Regulation, Truck Accidents, Trucking Law, Trucking Liability and Trucking Litigation.

Tribal Law: The inherent rights that tribes have to govern themselves and the laws surrounding these Dependent Domestic Nations.

Trusts: Estates. Includes Asset Protection, Estate Administration, Estate Litigation, Estate Planning, Estate Settlements, Family Wealth Transfer, Fiduciary Law, Fiduciary Litigation, Guardianship, Offshore Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Special Needs Trusts, Trust Administration, Trust Litigation and Trust Planning.

Unemployment: Provides workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own with monetary payments for a given period of time or until they find a new job.

Veterans Issues: Includes Disability Compensation, Pension, GI Bill, Rehabilitation and Employment, Survivor Benefits and Health Care Benefits.

Water Rights: Includes New Water Rights, Existing Water Rights, Provisional Water Use Permits, Interim Permits, Temporary Permits, Water Reservations, Notice of Completion of Ground Water Developments, Petitions for Basin Closure, Petitions for Controlled Ground Water Area, Changing Water Rights, Salvaged Water Rights, Temporary Changes and Instream Flow and Water Use Violations.

Wills: A legal document which a person, names one or more persons to manage their estate and provides for the distribution of property after death.

Workers Compensation: A form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured during employment in exchange for the waiving of the employee's right to sue their employer for negligence. Includes Black Lung, Federal Workers Compensation, Industrial Insurance, Workers Compensation Appeals, Workers Compensation Defense, Workers Compensation Mediation, Workers Compensation Self Insurance and Workers Compensation Subrogation.

The Montana Lawyer Referral and Information Service is not a directory of the State Bar of Montana's members.
Montana Lawyer Referral Service is a directory provided by the State Bar of Montana to assist its members and the public in locating an attorney. All lawyers listed in Montana Lawyer Referral Service are members of the State Bar of Montana. The State Bar of Montana does not recommend or endorse the services of those listed, nor does the omission of others from this directory imply a negative assessment, or any evaluation or recommendation whatsoever. Nothing in this Montana Lawyer Referral Service directory should be relied upon as legal advice. The information on these pages has been supplied by the persons and firms listed, and the State Bar of Montana has not reviewed, investigated, or evaluated the accuracy or completeness of the information, or qualifications or competency of those listed. The State Bar of Montana, and its members, and employees hereby disclaim any responsibility or liability claimed to have arisen from reliance upon the information contained in the Montana Lawyer Referral Service.

Neither the State Bar of Montana nor any agency of the State Bar has certified any lawyer identified here as a specialist or as an expert.