Blewett: 'Public Education Is Under Attack'

Sep 11, 2015

The man whose name now adorns the University of Montana law school said today that it was actually his clients who made the $10 million gift that resulted in the law school being named for him.

Alexander Blewett III has spent his career in Great Falls, he says representing people who were injured through no fault of their own and then couldn’t get insurance companies to pay.

Most of those people, Blewett  said, couldn’t afford a lawyer if it weren’t for the contingency fee system that allows them pay attorneys out of what courts award them if they win.

"But there was a joker in there, there’s a hook. That is that they had to pay a fee to make their lives better. A fee which  cut into the compensation they were entitled to, and it’s that fee that has funded this gift, and it rests entirely on their shoulders."

Blewett, a graduate of both Montana State University and, in 1971, the UM law school, explained why he made the $10 million donation this way.

"As we all know, public education, especially higher education, is under attack from some groups. They don’t want public education, they want religious based, private education. Which is in my view exclusive and that’s not good. This school is a state school. This is a public school, and a public school should be paid for by the public, by the government."

Blewett’s gift nearly doubles the size of the law school's endowment, to more than $21 million. It creates an endowed chair in consumer law and protection, and a scholarship fund that will match other donations up to $1.5million dollars.

Blewett’s father, a Butte native, also graduated from the University of Montana law school, as did his two sons.