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The State Bar of Montana was created by order of the Montana Supreme Court in January, 1974. In it's Order, the Court provided that all persons practicing law in the state were obliged to be members of the State Bar.

The purposes of the State Bar are to aid the courts in maintaining and improving the administration of justice; to foster, maintain and require on the part of attorneys high standards of integrity, learning, competence, public service and conduct; to safeguard proper professional interests of the local bar associations; to provide a forum for discussion of and effective action concerning subjects pertaining to the practice of law, the science of jurisprudence and law reform, and relations of the Bar to the public; to provide for continuing legal education of members of the Bar and to insure that the responsibilities of the legal profession to the public are more effectively discharged.

The State Bar is governed by a Board of Trustees. Seventeen members of the Board are elected by the Active members of the Bar to two-year terms from the State Bar areas. State Bar areas are made up of one or several judicial districts. The other four Board members are the President and the President-Elect, who are elected statewide to one-year terms, the Secretary-Treasurer, who is elected statewide to a two-year term, and the Immediate Past President. The State Bar has two ABA delegates.

Major activities and programs of the State Bar include:
A program of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education, requiring Active members of the Bar to secure 15 hours of continuing legal education each year and 5 ethics credits every 3 years.
A Lawyers Fund for Client Protection, which makes restitution in cases where an attorney has improperly appropriated client funds.
A Lawyer Referral Service, which allows members of the public to get help to find a lawyer for help with their particular legal problem.
A Fee Arbitration Program to settle fee disputes between an attorney and a client short of litigation.
Publication of informational pamphlets for the general public on a wide variety of legal subjects, including marriage and divorce, landlord-tenant law, small claims court, rights of clients, wills and probate among others.
Character and Fitness reviews to determine if the applicants for admission to the State Bar possess the necessary traits of character and fitness for the practice of law.
Provision of financial support for legal services to the poor through the Montana Justice Foundation.
A variety of services to its members, including continuing legal education seminars, practice manuals and ethics opinions.

A student applicant is an applicant who has never held a license to practice law. At the time of taking the Montana Bar Examination, a student applicant must have a Juris Doctor or equivalent degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association at the time of graduation. An LL.M. degree is not considered the equivalent of a Juris Doctor degree.

An attorney applicant is an applicant with a Juris Doctor or equivalent degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association at the time of graduation, and who is admitted to practice law in another state, district or territory of the United States. An LL.M. degree is not considered the equivalent of a Juris Doctor degree.

A resigned applicant is an applicant who was previously a member of the State Bar of Montana but resigned his or her membership. To apply for reinstatement, resigned members must petition the Montana Supreme Court and at a minimum submit to a character and fitness investigation, supply the supporting documentation, and pay the application fee. Certification for admission must be obtained from the Commission on Character and Fitness prior to reinstatement. Unless otherwise ordered by the Supreme Court, resigned members will not be required to sit for any portion of the bar examination.

The Commission on Character and Fitness shall be appointed by this Court and shall consist of nine members, six of whom must be licensed Montana attorneys and three of whom must be lay members, nominated by either the State Bar or this Court. The term of office of each member shall be until a successor is appointed.

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