MTLA Annual Convention
August 3-4, 2017
University of Montana - U Center
Missoula, Montana

11.0 CLE Credits – including 1 ethics credit

Links for Processing Video Orders
Will Be Open Soon



Register NOW

Thank You Convention Sponsors
PDF Registration Form (mail in with check)    

Speaker bios


Topics & Speakers - Schedule


Convention Schedule

Thank You Awards Dinner Sponsors 

Bechtold Law Firm • McKenna & Starin
Meyer, Shaffer & Stepans
Rhoades Siefert & Erickson • Rossbach Law
Strauch Law Firm • Towe & Fitzpatrick

Thursday, August 3
7:30 Registration & Breakfast - hosted by 
  UM Alexander Blewett III School of Law

Welcome & Introduction

  Anthony Jackson, Bozeman  
8:30 New Lawyers’ Panel:  Perspectives and Considerations in Starting a Plaintiff’s Firm
  Jessie Lundberg, Missoula    
  Rebecca Smith, Missoula    
  Samantha Travis, Kalispell    
9:30 BREAK    
9:45 4th Amendment Litigation: Suing Cops
  Michelle Burrows, Portland, OR    
10:45 Montana Case Law Update:  July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017  
  Hon. Justice Terry N. Trieweiler, Whitefish  
11:45 LUNCH    
  UC Ballroom    
1:00 Populism – What It Means For Us    
  Christina Sonsire, Elmira, NY    
2:00 Attorneys Fees:  Ethical and Practical Issues  
  Donald L. Harris, Billings    
3:00 BREAK    
3:15 Litigating Against Insurance Companies:  
Lessons Learned From Mentors, Masters, and Mistakes
  Meghan Moore, Miami, FL    
4:15 Master The Fundamentals - Take Your Cases To The Next Level  
  Russell Button, Dallas TX    
5:15 Program Concludes for the Day    
5:30 Social Hour & Awards Dinner    
  Law School Court Yard    
Friday – August 4, 2017    
7:00 Registration & Continental Breakfast    
Welcome & Introduction
  Anthony Jackson, Bozeman    
8:00 Montana Insurance Law Update:  July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017  
  Prof. Gregory S. Munro, Alexander Blewett III School of Law  
9:00 Expert Depositions and Planning Tactics    
  Elise Sanguinetti, Oakland, CA    
10:00 BREAK    
10:15 The Transition from Practice to the Bench  
  Hon. Elizabeth A. Best, Eighth Judicial District  
  Hon. Amy Poehling Eddy, Eleventh Judicial District  
11:15 Once again there was a data breach.  Who is responsible for what?
  Prof. Joel Henry, Alexander Blewett III School of Law  
12:15 Annual Membership Luncheon    
  UC Ballroom    
1:15 Program Concludes    
Faculty Bios

Hon. Elizabeth A. Best, Eighth Judicial District, was appointed to the bench in March 2016 and won election (to retain) in November 2016.  After earning her law degree from the University of Montana School of Law, Judge Best served in the U.S. Army JAGC.  Upon returning to Montana, she clerked for U.S. District Judge Paul Hatfield and then entered private practice.  Judge Best is a past president of the Montana Trial Lawyers Association and was named MTLA Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2008.

Back to Top

Michelle R. Burrows has practiced law in Oregon since 1986. She is a sole practitioner in Portland, OR, specializing in plaintiffs civil rights litigation; she sues cops.  She served as Vice President of the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, a member of the OHSU Institutional Review Board as a prisoner advocate, and Chair of the Legal Advisory Committee for the Western Prison Project. Ms. Burrows was the class counsel in Anstett v. State of Oregon, a prisoner class action addressing medical care in Oregon’s prisons. Ms. Burrows has written and lectured on civil forfeiture issues, civil rights issues, and in 2006 and 2007 served on the faculty of a six-week course on advanced civil rights litigation for the NW Constitutional Rights Law Center and the ACLU. She taught a four-week advanced litigation seminar on civil rights litigation in 2016 through the ACLU and Oregon Trial Lawyers College. She is a 2007 graduate of Trial Lawyers College, a member of OTLA, NPAP, and AAG, and graduate of Bill Barton’s 2010 Boot Camp.

Back to Top

Russell Button was born to be a trial lawyer. His passion for what he does and who he represents runs deep. It’s what drives him to get up early, stay late, and work around the clock. In his first four years as a licensed attorney, he tried twenty-one jury trials and  conducted hundreds of focus groups, more of which are scheduled for this year.  The firm is based in Dallas and recently opened a second office in Midland. Russell primarily focuses on complex catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death cases.  His passions outside the firm are fitness, health, basketball, hunting, fishing, and traveling. He grew up around the Dallas-Fort Worth area, attended Midwestern State University on a full basketball scholarship, and then earned his law degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law. He is a frequent lecturer and serves as vice president of the Board of Directors for BIND, a nonprofit clubhouse for brain injury survivors.  Mr. Button is on the faculty for the Reptile Keenan Ball College.

Back to Top

Hon. Amy Eddy has been serving as one of the four District Court Judges in Flathead County since November of 2015.  Prior to serving as District Court Judge, Judge Eddy was in private practice for 15 years as a complex civil litigator.  She handled a wide variety of cases on behalf of individuals, families, and small businesses across Montana.  Judge Eddy is a past president of the Northwest Montana Bar Assoication and the Montana Trial Lawyers Association.  She obtained her undergraduate degree from Cal Poly in 1997 and attended law school at the University of Montana School of Law, where she currently serves on the Board of Visitors. In her free time she enjoys spending time outside with her family.   

Back to Top
Donald L. Harris earned his law degree from the University of Montana School of Law, with high honors.  Mr. Harris practices in Billings with the firm of Harris, Gannett & Varela.  His field of practice includes commercial litigation, professional negligence, insurance coverage/bad faith, plaintiff personal injury, nursing home negligence/abuse, and wrongful death.  Don is a member of MTLA’s Board of Directors and Education Committee.  In 2013 Harris, along with co-recipient Steven Harman, was named MTLA’s Trial Lawyer of the Year.  He has also been honored with the State Bar’s Distinguished Service Award and the Montana Civil Rights Protection and Advocacy System’s Courage Award.  Harris is a member of AAJ and ABOTA. 
Back to Top

Prof. Joel Henry is one of the few lawyers in the country with a Ph.D. in Computer Science. Joel utilizes his deep understanding of technology to guide start-ups and clients with respect to business formation, contracts, and intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and licensing. He is particularly experienced with the legalities involved with cutting edge technologies, such as drones, data gathering and mining, and data privacy and security. Having both taught and earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science, Joel’s background and combination of experience allows him to understand the complex interactions between technology and the law. Henry is co-founder of Agile Data Solutions, and he has made significant contributions in the areas of electronic discovery and digital evidence, participating in case law review, specifying processes and procedures as a member of the Sedona Conference, and developing standards for the legal profession. A noted thought leader, he has written and spoken on topics including e-discovery, data-intensive cases, and other developments in legal technology. 

Back to Top

Jessie Lundberg is a solo attorney based out of Missoula, Montana. Her practice specializes in consumer finance law, helping consumers with debt collectors, credit report agencies, mortgage companies, landlords, and bankruptcy. She has worked in the area of consumer protection since 2006 and as a solo practitioner since 2012. Jessie earned her law degree from the University of Montana School of Law, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of Montana Law Review and initiated the Montana Women’s Policy Leadership Institute. Following law school, Jessie clerked for the Hon. James R. Browning and Hon. Sidney R. Thomas, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in

San Francisco, served as an adjunct faculty member at the law school, and served two terms as an Equal Justice Works Ameri-Corps Legal Fellow with Montana Legal Services Association. 

Back to Top

Meghan C. Moore is a shareholder at Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin, PA. She represents policyholders in insurance coverage and bad faith litigation in state and federal courts. Ms. Moore has handled numerous complex cases and tried insurance coverage and bad faith cases to policyholder verdicts, including obtaining a $12.5 million punitive damage bad faith verdict in South Carolina federal court and a $28.3 million coverage verdict in Florida state court. Ms. Moore is a graduate of UM, where she obtained a degree in Business Administration/Accounting. She is a 2001 graduate of Tulane Law School and a member of the American Bar Association, Florida Justice Association, and MENSA.  She serves as co-editor in chief of the ABA ICLC Website, formerly served as the ABA ICLC Bad Faith Hot Topics Editor, and has presented at American Conference Institute, American Bar Association, and National Business Institute seminars on insurance issues. 

Back to Top

Prof. Greg Munro recently retired as Professor and Director of Professional Skills at the University of Montana’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law, where he now teaches Torts and Insurance Law in post-retirement.  For years, he has researched and written the quarterly Insurance Consumer Counsel’s Column for Trial Trends.  Prof. Munro has published articles, a book and book chapters on topics of insurance, torts, medical-legal and legal education.  He has also taught Trial Advocacy, Remedies and co-coached the law school’s national championship Trial Team in ATLA competitions from 1989 until 1999.  He regularly teaches CLE for organizations of lawyers, judges and law professors.  Munro is a past president and board member of MTLA.  He serves on the Montana State Uniform District Court Rules Committee and practiced plaintiff’s civil litigation in Billings for thirteen years before joining the UM School of Law in 1988. 

Back to Top

Elise Sanguinetti is a founding partner at Arias Sanguinetti Stahle & Torrijos with offices in Oakland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Montreal.  Ms. Sanguinetti’s main focus of expertise is serious injury, wrongful death cases, civil appeals and legal malpractice. Elise graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law.  She was admitted into the California state bar in 1997. When not in the courtroom, she is a frequent speaker at seminars and writes articles that are featured in various legal publications.  Her copious amount of work has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including the prestigious, Joe Tonahill Award from the American Association for Justice (AAJ).  Ms. Sanguinetti is the Vice President of AAJ, was the president of the Consumer Attorneys of California, and is a past president of the Alameda Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association. 

Back to Top

Rebecca Smith is a public interest attorney who litigates complex federal environmental and civil rights cases on behalf of non-profit organizations and low-income individuals.  She is licensed to practice in Montana, Idaho, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Rebecca graduated as Class Valedictorian from the University of Montana School of Law in 2008, where she received her J.D. with high honors and a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law.  Rebecca also received a Masters of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana.  She has presented on legal topics for Vermont Law School, the University of Montana School of Law, and the University of Oregon School of Law. Rebecca is the President of the Board of Directors for the Civil Liberties Defense Center and a member of the National Police Accountability Project and the National Lawyers Guild. 

Back to Top
Christina Sonsire is a partner at the Ziff Law Firm in Elmira, New York, where she represents plaintiffs in personal injury and medical malpractice cases.  She attended law school at the University of Montana, where she earned several academic scholarships and served Montana’s Native American population through work in the Indian Law Clinic. A member of UM’s highly selective Moot Court Team, Christina was honored as the Western Region’s Best Oralist in 2004, and her team of three earned a trip to New York City to compete in the National Moot Court finals. Ms. Sonsire currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Academy of Trial Lawyers, New York’s most prestigious trial advocacy organization. One of six members to be named an Academy Dean for her work on continuing legal education, Christina has presented more than 26 CLE Seminars to practicing lawyers at locations all across New York State. 
Back to Top

Samantha Travis recently joined the Kalispell law firm of Ogle, Worm & Travis as a partner.  Her practice focuses on plaintiff’s civil litigation, environmental law, and domestic relations. Formerly a civil defense attorney and a Special Assistant Attorney General for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Samantha has been self-employed as a trial lawyer since 2011.  Samantha received her law degree from the University of Montana School of Law, earning a certificate of specialization in Environmental and Natural Resources Law in 2008.  She is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts within Montana and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington D.C.  Samantha lives in Kalispell, with her husband, Paul, and 2.5 children.  When not hard at work for her clients, Samantha may be found floating on a nearby river, picking huckleberries on a hillside, climbing and skiing down a snowy peak, or attempting to make vegetables grow in her backyard garden.

Back to Top

Terry N. Trieweiler graduated from Drake University School of Law in 1973 and was admitted to practice in Montana in 1975. He was certified as a specialist in civil trial advocacy by the National Board of  Trial Advocates in 1982; elected president of the MTLA in 1984; and elected president of the State Bar of Montana in 1986. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and served on its Board of Directors. He taught civil procedure at the University of Montana School of Law prior to being elected a Justice on the MT Supreme Court, where he served from 1991 through April of 2003. Trieweiler is now engaged in the practice of law specializing in trial and appellate practice and, since leaving the Court, has been a recipient of MTLA’s Public Service, Trial Lawyer of the Year, Appellate Advocacy and Career Achievement Awards. 

Back to Top