ADVOCATING FOR THE CLIENT — Gustafson considers himself fortunate, to assist groups in Conrad by providing legal services without any or minimal cost. He says, “It is exciting to see projects develop and know that with just a little help from, everyone, big things can happen.” From the left is Paralegal Rhonda Bender, Attorney Gale Gustafson, and Office Manager Susan Gustafson. I-O Photo by Tirsea McNeal
By Tirsea McNeal, I-O Reporter
If Conrad had a popularity contest in town, Attorney Gale Gustafson doesn’t believe he’d win, but after he’s been in the community spotlight, he might be surprised.
Gustafson Law Offices was established in January 1979, and located in the building referred to as the old PCA building on 4th Ave. SE.
Gustafson, attorney at law, earned his Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of Montana Law School in June 1972.
In 1991, Arnold Rohrer joined the firm and the offices were relocated to their current address of 400 So. Main. Rohrer retired his law practice in 2009, and now the office is manned by Gustafson.
Gustafson is licensed to practice before all the courts of the State of Montana, including the Supreme Court, the U.S. District Courts, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and the United States Court of Federal Claims.
Gustafson has maintained the office since 1972, excepting a period during which he served in the U.S. Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Medical Service Corp., and then it was staffed by Rhonda Bender, who has been with the firm since 2003 and is recognized by the Montana State Bar Association as a paralegal.
Gustafson’s wife, Susan, also works in the office as office manager.
As a youth, Gustafson visited uncle Rib and aunt Pat Gustafson and their family. He also worked construction on the Missile Sites back in 1966.
He graduated from Great Falls High School in a class of 880. He said, “I always knew that it would be my preference to establish my practice, raise my family and be involved in a smaller community such as Conrad.”
He added, “There was a great deal of excitement about the projected impact the ABM Missile project would have on Conrad, and it appeared there would be plenty of work for a new wet-behind-the-ears attorney.”
He goes on to say, “Well, as we know, the ABM’s never materialized, but fortunately for me, the work did.”
Gustafson’s mission statement is “To advocate for my client’s worthy causes in a professional caring manner.”
Since 2007, Gustafson Law Offices has housed the state office for Grateful Nation Montana, Inc. (GNM) co-founded by Gustafson’s son-in-law, David Bell, President, and Chief Operating Officer of ALPS Insurance and John McCarrick, a New York Attorney. The program was established to honor the families of the active duty soldiers killed in either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, for the sole purpose of funding the college or post-secondary education, and preliminary thereto, provide outreach and mentoring services for the 24 children of Montana’s fallen soldiers. For more information visit the website at GratefulNationMontana.com .
Montana was chosen for this pilot program due to the fact both of the founders have strong ties to Montana which has lost more soldiers per capita than any other state.
Gustafson serves as a volunteer Director and Secretary, along with the support of his office staff for GNM.
Gustafson said, “As a practicing attorney in a small town, it is necessary to develop expertise in almost every facet of the law in order to advocate for client’s worthy causes.”
He adds, “Although the position doesn’t always help an attorney win many popularity contests, I enjoy providing legal services for my city government and at the same time, enhancing my courtroom experience.”
He added, “It’s the variety that keeps him from burning out.”
Living and ranching west of Conrad for the past 25 years, has afforded Gustafson more variety and the ability to better relate to his clients concerning their farm and ranch entities, water issues, real estate and oil and gas matters.
In addition to his regular responsibilities as a practicing attorney, Gustafson counsels those in need of assistance in family matters and teaches estate and probate law to other attorneys throughout the states. He also serves on the Law Related Education State Bar Association Committee and served as a Trustee for the Montana State Bar Association.
Gustafson considers himself fortunate, to assist groups in Conrad by providing legal services without any or minimal cost. He says, “It is exciting to see projects develop and know that with just a little help from, everyone, big things can happen.”
Gustafson also mentors candidates for the WORC program.
Gustafson can be reached at 278-7521.