Chicago native Justin Ekwall joined the Madison County County Attorney’s office about a month ago. The move seems have fit him well, as he has jumped in to the office’s workload headfirst.
Ekwall and his wife moved to Montana after his graduation from law school in 2011. He said they had been looking all over the country when an opportunity to clerk for Judge John McKeon in Malta, Mont., presented itself. Ekwall clerked for the judge for two years and wanted to move on to something bigger and different. The couple was sure they wanted to stay in Montana if they could, Ekwall said.
“Montana was up there on our list,” Ekwall said. “It’s a beautiful place and fun to live here.”
A graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, Ekwall ranks criminal law as his favorite area of law to practice. He said the facts of each case are always interesting and the task of balancing the interests of public safety with people’s civil liberties is a challenge he enjoys. Criminal cases make up about 75-80 percent of the office’s work.
County Attorney Chris Christensen gave Ekwall cases his first day and told him that’s how he would get trained. He said he believes it’s a great way to learn about the office and county. Ekwall will get to do a little bit of everything in the office, but he is already enjoying the added levels of human interaction compared to his clerkship. He talks with law enforcement officers, witnesses and others while preparing cases.
Ekwall and Christensen also serve as legal counsel for the county government. They recently made sure the Madison County Commissioners knew what they were legally required to do regarding a proposed election about the courthouse addition.
“We’re here for the people of the county,” Ekwall said. “Anyone can come and talk to me. In a large city, you’re one among many, but not here. Everyone is very friendly and we love it.”
The County Attorney’s office is located on the top floor of the Madison County Courthouse in Virginia City. Ekwall can be reached at 843-4233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.