William A. Bartlett
Partner – Retired 2021
Bozeman lawyer, Bill Bartlett, earned his bachelor’s degree in 1971 and juris doctorate in 1976 from the University of Puget Sound. Being raised in a rural, eastern North Dakota community, he grew up in an environment where people were constantly available to assist others. Weather dealt misfortune at any time of the year and neighbors helping neighbors was a community ethic. Helping others continues to motivate Bill in his personal and professional lives. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he worked in commercial and residential construction, spent a summer working on a railroad tie gang and did some work as a longshoreman at the Tacoma, Washington docks while an undergraduate student.
While stationed in Viet Nam, his compassion and caring for his fellow citizens became a professional goal. Serving as a bartender at the General Officer’s Club, Headquarters MACV, he observed the conflict through top ranking military personnel and visiting dignitaries. Bill’s unquestioning trust in our government quickly faded and, upon discharge, he used the GI Bill to fund his education and chose a career in the practice of criminal law where he could personally help others and protect them from injustice.
For six years, he was the lead trial attorney for the Benton County Prosecutor in eastern Washington where he developed extensive trial skills, specializing in sex offenses and handling or supervising other Deputy Prosecutor’s homicide prosecutions. The experience was invaluable and he learned the workings of criminal investigators and the criminal court. He learned about power, where it resides and how it can be used to achieve justice, or abused to achieve injustice. Those insights have served his clients well since he moved to Bozeman in 1984. He has limited his practice to defending people accused of crime in Montana’s state and federal courts.
The criminal law is administered by people, for people. Bill’s mature objectivity, his innate interpersonal skills, understanding of human nature and over three decades of criminal law experience bring value and opportunities to his clients that are unique in criminal defense practice. He knows how and when to use power and that, often, silence is more powerful than speech. He practices the art, as well as the science, of criminal defense.
Bill’s community involvement includes service as the Board President of the local Big Brothers and Sisters organization, followed by service as the Regional Vice President and non-voting member of the National Board of Big Brothers and Sisters. He served on the board of Three Rivers Wilderness Therapy Program and currently is a member of the Bozeman Area Bicycle Advisory Board, which advises the Bozeman City Commission on issues that encourage more biking and safer biking. He has paddled his canoe each month for fourteen straight years and he and his wife thrive on self-contained wilderness canoe trips. Bill bikes every day, everywhere, all year long. He is dedicated to his principles including that his health and fitness fuel his mind and attitude.