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Nonprofit law firm Montana Legal Services will close its First Avenue North office on Dec. 22 and move to a new space on the fourth floor of the Valley Federal Credit Union Building, 207 N. Broadway.

The firm, which has been at 2442 First Ave. N., for 23 years, will reopen on Jan. 12.

The move will be beneficial to employees and clients, said Christine Mandiloff, communications director at the Montana Legal Services Association.

“It’s just basically a little bit cramped, and the conference room area was a little small,” she said. To handle meetings, training and mediations, the new space will have a larger conference room, she said.

“In general it just looked like a better situation for our clients and for our staff.”

MTLSA’s services focus largely on civil matters, and with the Yellowstone County Public Defender’s Office on the second floor, referring clients who are unsure whether their legal need is civil or criminal will be more convenient.

The closing of the downtown bus station and its relocation into empty space behind legal services after the building was turned into a concert venue did not factor into the firm’s decision to move.

“The space wasn’t meeting their needs anymore,” she said. “There’s actually been bus traffic there for years.”

Current clients concerned about getting help during the move can continue to correspond with their advocates using the phone numbers they currently use.

If there is an interruption in phone service, people can call the MLSA helpline at 1-800-666-6899 from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, Mandiloff said.

They can also be reached by email through their website, www.mtlsa.org.

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Chris Cioffi covers city news for The Billings Gazette in Montana.