Colin Stephens

Colin was raised in Dutton and Helena, Montana and graduated from Dutton High School in 1994. After graduation, he left Dutton to attend Carroll College in Helena to study philosophy.

“After graduating from Carroll in 1998, I took a summer off to return to Dutton to organize a community theater program with my friend and former Dutton classmate, Nicole Odden,” Colin said. “After our first successful production, I returned to Helena and began an internship for the Montana Secretary of State.”

After the internship, he took a position working for Montana State University-Billings as a legislative lobbyist. At the end of the legislative session, he entered graduate school at the University of Montana in Missoula in an effort to obtain a Master’s Degree in philosophy. (He notes that by this time he had begun to date my friend / classmate / co-director, Nicole.) After completing three years of classwork towards his Master’s Degree, he began work on his graduate thesis entitled “John Rawls and the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention.”

“The more I researched the Montana Constitutional Convention, the more I became convinced that I wanted to be a lawyer, specifically a criminal defense lawyer,” Colin said. “In fall of 2002, I enrolled in the University of Montana School of Law.”

When not in law school, he worked for Norm Grosfield and John Shontz, attorneys in Helena. In his third year of law school, Colin obtained placement in the prestigious Criminal Defense Clinic, working with Professor Jeffrey Renz. He also worked part-time as a lobbyist for the Montana Newspaper Association. Upon graduating and successful completion of the bar exam, Colin started working for the firm of McLaverty & Associates, practicing exclusively criminal defense.

He worked with Mr. McLaverty for approximately eight months when he suffered catastrophic heart failure. This problem sidelined his legal career for approximately seven months while he recovered from a heart transplant in Spokane, Washington.

“Thankfully, Nicole was attending graduate school in Spokane at the same time I was having my ticker transplanted,” Colin said.

Colin returned to McLaverty & Associates in the fall of 2006 and eagerly resumed his criminal defense career. Then in April of 2007, he was approached by John E. Smith to see if he would be interested in working for him.

“I accepted the job and have been working here ever since,” Colin said. “Nicole is now my wife / classmate / co-director, etc., my new heart is beating like a bass drum, and I love practicing criminal defense law. At this time, my practice is mainly in Federal Court, and in the Montana Supreme Court. However, I love all arenas and enthusiastically accept any challenge that comes my way.”

Colin is the current President of the Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer and Chairman of the Criminal Law Section for the State Bar.

“I have long served as pro bono counsel with the Montana Innocence Project and am excited to be considered for board service,” Colin said. “I have had opportunities to volunteer in years past, and I can now continue this important work helping other attorneys fighting to exonerate those falsely imprisoned.”