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]
Obituary: 13 August 2002 — Spokesman-Review
“Betty Sias died 9 August 2002 at her home, Prestige Living Center. She was born October 3, 1922, in Chinook, Montana, to Margaret Vanden Sias, a teacher, and DeForest Jeremiah Sias, an attorney. She always felt much blessed in having such good parents.
Betty Scott was a graduate of the University of Montana Law School. She spent the last thirty years of her working life in the practice of family law for the department of Social and Health Services in Spokane, Washington, retiring at the age of 72. Prior to that she was believed to be the first woman accepted as a law clerk by the Montana Supreme Court and had careers as a law clerk for the California State Attorney General’s Office in San Francisco, as a teacher in a one room school in rural Montana, as a librarian, and as a social worker for Child Protective Services Division of the Montana Department of Social and Health Services.
In 1950, Betty Scott married Dr. Donald C. Scott who survives. She is also survived by her daughter, and son-in-law, their two children . . ., and her son, and daughter-in-law and their son. She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister . . ., and her brother.
Betty Scott gave her support to various causes throughout her lifetime, among them the ACLU, the Sierra Club, Amnesty International, Habitat for Humanity, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and was State Vice President of the League of Women Voters when it was first formed in Montana in the mid-1950s. She was a fifty-year member of the Montana Bar.”
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. . . .”
10 June 1945 — Great Falls Tribune — “Chinook Girl is ‘Resting Up’ Before Launching Law Career”
“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.”
27 November 1945 — Great Falls Tribune — “Woman Attorney Named to State Library Post”
“Betty Ann Sias, daughter of Blaine County Attorney D. J. Sias of Chinook and seventh woman admitted to the Montana bar since 1938, today became assistant state law librarian.
Miss Sias is a graduate of Chapman college in California and completed her law work at Montana State university in 1944. She is a native of Chinook.”
20 February 1949 — Great Falls Tribune — “Betty Ann Sias, Chinook, Marries at San Francisco”
“Announcement is made of the marriage in San Francisco of Betty Ann Sias, daughter of Atty. and Mrs. D. J. Sias, and Chester Scott, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Scott, Plains.
Dr. Hubert Landham officiated at the double ring Episcopal ceremony. The bride wore a royal blue suit with mauve accessories. She carried a white prayer book, which her mother carried at her wedding, with a corsage of orchids. Vivian Hemsath, maid of honor, wore a beige suite with brown accessories. Dr. Robert Johns of San Francisco attended the bridegroom and ushers were John Sabin, Portland, and Richard Horton, San Francisco.
A reception at the home of the bride’s brother, Robert, followed.
The bride was graduated from Chinook high school and in 1945 was graduated from the law school of Montana State university. She is a member of the Montana state bar and is on the staff of the attorney general of California. Her sorority is Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Scott attended Montana State college, served four years as a medical aid with the marine corps and is a senior at the California College of Chiropody, San Francisco. Following a wedding trip to Arizona, the couple will live in San Francisco.”
3 October 1922, in Chinook, Montana
Deforest Jeremiah Sias (lawyer) and Margaret Vanden
one brother, Robert, and one sister, Janet
- LL.B., University of Montana School of Law 1945
- Montana Law Review, Business Manager
Admitted to Practice:
Donald Chester Scott on 30 January 1949 (divorced)
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
- 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]
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