Betty Ann Sias ’45

Full name: Betty Ann Sias Scott

University of Montana School of Law, Class of 1945

Possibly First Female Law Clerk to the Montana Supreme Court [1945-1946]siassupremecourt

Obituary: 15 August 2002 — Spokesman-Review

+++++“Mrs. Scott, who was born in Chinook, Mont., died Friday. She was a 30-year resident of Spokane before moving to Montana a few years ago.
+++++As a young woman she worked as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, a librarian and as a social worker for the Child Protective Services Division of the Montana Social and Health Services.
+++++Mrs. Scott graduated from the University of Montana Law School. She was believed to be the first woman to work as a law clerk for the Montana Supreme Court. She also worked as a law clerk for the California State Attorney General’s office in San Francisco.
+++++She married Donald Scott in 1950 [sic — 1949]. The couple later divorced.
+++++She practiced family law for the Department of Social and Health Services in Spokane for 30 years and retired at the age of 72.
+++++Mrs. Scott was a longtime member of the Montana Bar Association and was the state vice president of the League of Women voters when it first formed in the mid-1950s.
+++++Survivors include a daughter, Margaret Bronder of Whitefish, Mont.; a son, Bryon Scott of Rochester, Minn.; and three grandchildren. . . .”

“Chinook Girl is ‘Resting Up’ Before Launching Law Career” — Great Falls Tribune
10 June 1945

+++++“Betty Ann Sias, Chinook’s attractive 22-year-old blond lawyer, is ‘just resting up for a while.’
+++++Miss Sias recently graduated from the Montana State university law school and was admitted to the bar by the Montana state supreme court, thus becoming the 16th Montana university woman law student to be admitted to the bar in this state.
+++++When asked about her plans for the future, Miss Sias said she is going to take the best opportunity that comes along but is particularly attracted by the possibility of government work. For the present, she is not considering private practice.
+++++For Betty, it’s a case of like father, like daughter. Her father, D. J. Sias, has practiced law in Chinook for 25 years and it was he who urged his daughter to follow a law career.
+++++Betty graduated from Chinook high school in 1940 where she was salutatorian of her class and a member of the National Honorary society.
+++++She attended Chapman college in Los Angeles for a year and completed her prelaw courses at Northern Montana college before entering the university law school. While at Montana State university she joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. All of Miss Sias’ time isn’t taken up delving into law books. She is a talented pianist and was a member of the all-state orchestra while attending high school in Chinook.
+++++Betty has a sister, Janet, a Johns Hopkins student, and a brother, Robert, who is in advertising work in New York City.”


+++++3 October 1922, in Chinook, Montana


+++++Deforest Jeremiah Sias (lawyer) and Margaret Vanden


+++++one brother, Robert, and one sister, Janet

Legal Education:

  • LL.B., University of Montana School of Law 1945
  • Montana Law Review, Business Manager

Admitted to Practice:

+++++Montana 1948


+++++Donald Chester Scott on 30 January 1949

Employment — Legal

  • Law Clerk, Montana Supreme Court
  • Assistant State Law Librarian
  • Law Clerk, California State Attorney General’s Office (San Francisco)
  • Attorney, Department of Social and Health Services, Office of Support Enforcement (1964-1994)

Employment — Non-legal

  • Teacher, rural school (eight students in five grades)
  • Junior Library Assistant, Great Falls Public Library 1952

Community Service:

  • State Vice-President, League of Women Voters


+++++9 August 2002, in Flathead County, Montana

Excerpts from Interview, on 13 July 1992

On law school:

+++++“I’m not sure law school was my cup of tea. I didn’t do it terribly well. And I’d been used to excelling. And I found that way of learning very difficult. I don’t know that I always had a lot of self-confidence, but I’ll tell you, law school pretty much finished me that way. . . I never thought about it, but I suppose it kind of scars you for life.”

On working as a clerk for the Montana Supreme Court after law school:

+++++“This slot as a law clerk for the [Montana] Supreme Court was wonderful. The judges treated me with great civility. And sort of protective. . . . And I was the assistant law librarian.

+++++“There was one clerk for the whole court. I did some research, and I don’t know that they really needed an assistant law librarian, but I helped attorneys find what they needed in the law library. Back then there weren’t a lot of resources that private attorneys had access to, so that was it.”

+++++Because she needed a little more money, the Chief Justice, Adair, created another job for her. She was the head of the legislative resource library, but the legislators “never took advantage of it.”

Looking for work after returning from San Francisco:

+++++We wound up in Great Falls, and there I couldn’t get my foot in any [law firm] door. I worked as a librarian. And I really liked that. Then I started doing social work. And I found I’m a natural at that. And I did child protective services. I gathered together the information to do one of the first welfare fraud cases there. . . .”

+++++“Then my two children came along. And I’ll have to say, I think my happiest time was being home with my children when they were little.

On combining family and work:

+++++“You [women who worked outside the home] had to make a special effort, you would anyway obviously, to see that your family was very well taken care of. I had the great good fortune of finding a retired businesswoman who was living with her brother and sister, and just couldn’t stand being at home all the time. She was with us for ten years. Wonderful person. Surrogate grandmother. . . “And she drove. She could take [the children] to music lessons and all that. And so that was very successful.”

[more to come]

Copyright ¬© 2015 “Montana’s Early Women Lawyers — dedicated to the stories of the women admitted to practice in Montana between 1889 and 1950.” All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s