For professional and personal reasons, I have never commented or posted on a political blog. However, the fact that I have a unique perspective on Pam Bucy’s commitment to justice compels me to publicly support her in this context. Her varied and impressive legal experience is already well-known. What is less well-known is her 16 years of quiet, unpaid, tireless work for access to justice in this state. I know that her commitment to justice is genuine and deeply grounded in the core of who she is and what she believes.
I met Pam when I moved to Montana, right out of law school, to work for Montana Legal Services Association. Representing victims of domestic violence in eastern Montana, I was blown away by the utter and complete lack of access to justice for too many Montanans who couldn’t afford an attorney to help them exercise their rights in relation to housing, credit, parenting, and safety.
When I met Pam, at 33 years old, she had already put herself through law school as a single mom and was Executive Assistant Attorney General (aka Chief Deputy) under Mike McGrath. She was pregnant with her second child, and, somehow, she found the time to serve as the volunteer Chair of the Supreme Court’s Equal Justice Task Force. This was more than a title for Pam. She showed dedication in her passionate leadership, but she also got her hands dirty doing all kinds of work that needed to be done to increase access to justice for low-income Montanans.
In all of the years we worked with each other on access to justice issues, she was NEVER without a pro bono case. And she took the thankless ones that no one else wanted- complicated, highly contested, ugly, multi-year family law cases. There are women and children in Montana whose rights and safety were only protected because of Pam’s volunteer work. Her rare dedication has been recognized by her peers: In 2006, she was recognized by the State Bar with both a pro bono award and an award for distinguished service for access to justice.
When the State Bar received a bit of money to do a legal needs survey, she didn’t just lead the effort, she joined Americorps VISTA volunteers in conducting hour long interviews of low-income Montanans all across this state. Then she led the effort to have the legislature commission their own study of legal needs. That study directly led to the first-ever investment by the state in services, forms, and support for unrepresented litigants in Montana.
She helped create the first pro bono policy for state workers in Montana.
More recently, she demonstrated her commitment to access to justice on the Board of the Montana Legal Services Association. The list goes on and on and on….
I haven’t met a candidate yet who shares all of my beliefs or all of my policy positions. What I look for are people who share my core values, who I fundamentally trust to do the right thing, and who are committed to work hard for the people they represent. Pam is without question that candidate for me.
I can honestly say, without any fear of hyperbole or exaggeration, that Montana is a more just state because of Pam’s volunteer work over the last 16 years. Her commitment to justice is as deep and sincere as any person’s I know. I hope readers will consider this quiet, dedicated, and largely unknown part of Pam when they cast their votes for Attorney General in the primary.