The State Law Library supports the legal research and information needs of Montana's judges and court staff, attorneys and legal assistants, state employees, students and members of the public. Notably, many of our patrons are pro se (self-representing) litigants. Our collection includes more than 116,000 cataloged items, and another 315,000 items on microfiche, along with our extensive electronic resources. The library welcomes suggestions for new legal materials to buy. We also accept limited donations. See our donation policy for more guidance. The following are an examples of the types of material the law library collects. Note this is brief description of our collection, for more information contact us, or explore our catalog.
Our audio/visual collection includes Supreme Court oral arguments, swearing in ceremonies, instructional videos, oral histories, documentaries, and (legally themed) feature films. Equipment to view VHS tapes/DVDs and listen to audiotapes/CDs is available in the library.
We collect biographies of U.S. Supreme Court Justices and other important U.S. judges. These biographies can provide valuable insight into the cases and controversies of the day, and help us better understand our own challenges as well.
Browse the shelves or search the online catalog to find resources such as:
- Laws and regulations of Montana, the federal government and other states
- Treatises, Journals and law reviews
- Practice Aids, Self-help manuals and statistical reports
- Historical materials, some of which were printed as far back as the 1500s.
The State Law Library of Montana maintains and provides online access to briefs submitted to the Montana Supreme Court and their resulting opinions, from 1972 to present through the Montana Supreme Court Cases database. We also have some briefs bound in books or on microfiche.
Cases & Digests
We collect all Regional West Reporters (Atlantic, Northeastern, Northwestern, Pacific, Southeastern, Southern and Southwestern), Federal (including Federal Supplement and Federal Rules Decisions), Supreme Court (by West and LexisNexis) and Bankruptcy reports, as well as U.S. Reports (through slip opinion) and American Law Reports in print. All of these as well as those cases not covered by our print collection are available electronically through Westlaw at our public computers.
Using citators to locate a state statute or regulation is now easier than ever using KeyCite which is part of the Westlaw database, available on all public computers in the library.
Continuing Legal Education Materials (CLEs)
The law library has available to its users a circulating audio/video CLE collection. We also host and publish number of Continuing legal education opportunities which can be accessed online.
The law library provides access to public computers, as well as free WiFi, with in-library access to a number of databases.
You can borrow eBooks with your State Law Library card. (Also available in-library for non-card holders). Click herefor a list of eBooks available. This collection includes many of the most popular legal treatises.
English Law Collection
In addition to having an extensive collection of treatises on American law, the law library also has a strong collection of English law materials. These materials include all statutes from the 1200s to the 1960s, case laws and reports, encyclopedias, abridgments, and commentaries and more.
We hold a small collection of legally themed feature films. These films are generally selected from the American Bar Associations list of top films. Topics range from westerns to Dramatizations of historical court cases.
Federal Laws & Regulations
We have an extensive collection of Federal primary source materials – historical and current – from all three branches of government including federal court opinions, court rules, United States Code, Statutes-at-Large (including the latest slip laws), Code of Federal Regulations, and Federal Register. We also have the United States Code Annotated (West), United States Code Service (Lexis), and the U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News (West).
In addition to print resources much federal law can be found for free online. A collection of links to free sources of legal information on our webpage.
As a selective depository library for federal government documents, we receive documents primarily of interest to our legal community. These materials include: laws, regulations, administrative decisions, Congressional documents, court rules, and other publications appropriate to our collection and come in various formats including print, electronic, online and microform. Learn more about the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) or view a list of participating depository libraries.
The federal government is increasingly providing information online. Some of those resources are listed on our website here. Additionally, both the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the U.S. Library of Congress manage an extensive collections of online resources. These resources can be found at GovInfo.gov (GPO) and Congress.gov (Library of Congress).
Indian Law Portal
The Law Library has developed a database of historical legal materials relating to the tribes in Montana. Additionally more recent information can be found on many of the tribes' websites.
Law Reviews & Periodicals
The Law Library maintains an extensive collection of law reviews and periodicals, either in print, microform, or electronic format (through subscription databases HeinOnline and Westlaw). Search our online catalog, for a particular title. If the location listed in our catalog is “HeinOnline,” we have in-library access to it through our subscription to the HeinOnline database.
We have a small collection of legal fiction as well. These titles are either very popular legal fictions or works written by members of the Montana legal community.
Legal Research Guides
The law library has created a number of legal research guides and aids designed to help researchers find the materials they are looking for.
The Law Library has a large collection of Legislative Histories all ready compiled between 1980 and 2005. Histories after 2005 can be compiled online. See our Legislative guide for more details.
The Law Library has certain resources that may be available only in microform formats including U.S. Congressional documents, State bar journals, State attorney general opinions, State statutes and U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs.
A microform reader/printer is available in the library on the lower level. The fee for printing is $0.10 per page.
Montana State Laws and Regulations
The law library collects and retains all print editions of the Montana Code Annotated (MCA). We also hold codes which predate the MCA. Our print collection also includes, bills (1975-) all session laws, House and Senate Journals, Legislative reports (1975-), the Administrative Rules of Montana (historical and current) and the Montana Administrative Register (1976-2017).
Many of these resources are also available from our website or through electronic subscriptions available in our library. See our Montana State Laws and Regulations page for more information.
Montana Supreme Court Cases Database
This database is maintained by the law library and provides access to Montana Supreme Courts opinions and briefs from 1972 to present. The docket for current cases can be found here.
Pro Se (Self-Representation)
The library maintains a collection of self-help books written for non-lawyers that broadly explain the law relating to specific legal topics and can help guide a person through the legal process.
More resources for the self-represented litigants can be also be found on our website.
Our reference materials include dictionaries (legal, medical, general), legal encyclopedias (American Jurisprudence 2d and Corpus Juris Secundum), government directories and yearbooks.
State Laws and Regulations (Other than Montana)
The Montana State Law Library maintains an extensive collection of statutes and opinions from all the other states in the union as well as U.S. Territories. Over time the nature of this collection has changing moving from print to microform to electronic. Patrons can now access case law, statutes, and regulations from other states through Westlaw and historical materials from HeinOnline at our public computers.