University of Montana law students help with eviction filings

MISSOULA, Mont. - As federal and local eviction moratoriums expire around the country, the Attorney General is looking to a specific group of students to help with process. 

Law students at the University of Montana are answering that call and volunteering, helping renters know their rights as they face eviction. 

They volunteer with the Housing Project with the Montana Legal Services Association. 

As students, they aren't able to actually practice or give legal advice. However, they work with supervising attorneys, walk people through the eviction process and work to make sure renters rights are protected. 

Law student Chance Carter said the experience confirms this is what he wants to do and has helped him learn how to navigate tricky situations. 

"Just because we think something is morally wrong, doesn't necessarily make it against the law," Carter said. "Sorting those two out can be really tricky, so it's been a really good experience in sorting those two things out and kind of separating the moral side from the law side."

Based on the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly seven million households in the United States are behind on rent with about three million households fearing eviction in the next two months. 

Law student Daniel Webster said volunteering has improved his client interaction. 

"It helps me learn how to talk with clients, understand their problems," Webster said. "I think listening is a huge thing all lawyers need to do. And so I've become a better listener and learned how to help these clients assert their rights."

While rental assistance is available in Montana, Carter said he's seeing evictions pick up and they're receiving more and more calls at the Housing Project. 

If you have questions about evictions, you can contact the Montana Legal Services Association here. 

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