History and Legacy

Tom Boland’s Office in the 1970s

Our firm’s legacy runs long in the Great Falls community. Caitlin’s father, Thomas E. Boland (Tom), is a descendant of Irish immigrants who came to work at the new Anaconda Smelter early in the 1900s. Caitlin’s great-grandfather homesteaded on Tiger Butte in the late 1880s. Both families have been involved in the early days of the city and the County. 

Tom Boland started practicing law in Great Falls in 1979. He took over John McCarvel’s office when he became one of the district court judges in the county.

He was a fearless attorney, a champion of justice who stood up to billion-dollar companies on behalf of his clients. He had a deep passion for representing people who needed help getting justice, and he was not afraid to take on powerful adversaries. Throughout his career, he fought tirelessly to protect the rights of the injured, the defrauded, and the marginalized in the legal arena.

He often took cases other attorneys did not want to deal with because they were too hard or there wasn’t enough money in them.

Tom Boland’s legal journey spans decades, well before the widespread recognition of issues addressed by movements like Me Too. He tackled sexual harassment cases, paving the way for justice in an era where such cases often went unnoticed.

In the early ’80s, Tom delved into consumer protection cases, demonstrating a commitment to defending the rights of individuals against powerful entities. His involvement in these cases predated the contemporary focus on consumer rights.

Tom’s versatility as an attorney extended to divorce cases, particularly those involving significant agricultural assets. Notable cases, such as Watson v Watson and King v King in Pondera County, stand as a testament to his dedication. In one instance, Tom fought for a woman’s rights in a complex divorce involving a corporate wheat farm, ensuring a fair resolution that considered both the financial and personal aspects of the case.

In his practice, Tom Boland often demonstrated his compassion for families by taking his own family to the office. His daughter, Caitlin, would accompany him to depositions, where she would sit in the lobby of San Francisco high-rise law offices while her dad skillfully conducted depositions with Fortune 500 company representatives. This experience left a lasting impression on Caitlin, shaping her values and commitment to the practice of law.

Tom Boland never forgot that he represented people, not just cases. His dedication to his clients and their families extended beyond the courtroom. In his office, he kept toys, crayons, and paper for families who came to visit, creating a welcoming and child-friendly environment. This gesture showcased his compassion and understanding of the challenges his clients faced, not just as legal cases but as individuals with personal stories and struggles.

Tom made the decision to wind down his practice in 2009. His daughter, Caitlin, and her husband, Sam Aarab, began their journey into law school in 2012, preparing for the next generation of attorneys to continue his legacy. In 2017, Caitlin and Sam returned to their hometown of Great Falls, inspired by Tom’s dedication to justice and determined to continue his work. They founded Boland Aarab PLLP, a law firm built on the foundation that Tom had created over the years. Boland Aarab is a successor law firm following Tom Boland’s career. Tom has been an integral part of creating the spirit of Boland Aarab, and we would not be the law firm we are today without his contribution and efforts.

With Tom Boland’s legacy serving as their guiding light, Boland Aarab PLLP carries forward his commitment to providing exceptional legal representation and seeking justice for those in need. Tom’s values and work ethic remain at the heart of their practice, driving their decisions and fueling their passion for advocating on behalf of their clients.

Through his notable cases, such as Sherner v. Conoco and Wombold v. Associates, Tom Boland left a lasting impact on the legal landscape in Montana. In Sherner, he was one of several attorneys in that case who successfully fought for the rights of injured workers, clarifying the standard for bringing a tort action against employers under Montana law. The case had significant implications for the interpretation of the Montana Workers’ Compensation Act and provided a framework for addressing employer liability for workplace injuries.

Tom’s background included handling catastrophic property losses, defective product cases, crop losses due to hail, and challenging claims settlements for wheat farmers. He navigated highway design defect cases, tackled medical malpractice with a focus on clear negligence, and managed cases related to federal tort claims, railroad claims (FELA), and numerous workers’ compensation cases.

In Wombold, together with his co-counsel, Tom’s relentless pursuit of justice led to a landmark ruling that addressed the charging of “points” on real estate-secured loans under the Montana Consumer Loan Act (CLA). His argument that points were not interest, as the lending industry treated them, but unauthorized fees resulted in the practice being declared a violation of the CLA’s prohibition on charging unauthorized fees. This ruling protected consumers from potential exploitation by predatory lenders, reaffirming the consumer protection intent of the CLA.

As Boland Aarab PLLP continues to advocate for their clients, they honor Tom Boland’s legacy of fearlessness, compassion, and dedication to justice. His enduring influence on the legal profession in Montana serves as a testament to the profound impact one attorney can have on the lives of many, both inside and outside the courtroom.

Caitlin’s roots in the Great Falls community run deep. Her great-great-grandfather, Pete Johnson, built the Johnson Hotel in 1919–20. It still stands today. Pete immigrated to America as a young man and initially arrived in Montana on foot: he walked from Seattle to Butte in 1883. In 1886, he arrived in Great Falls and worked in the coal mines of Sand Coulee. In 1887, he and his wife, Anna, homesteaded in the Tiger Butte country and turned their land into a thriving cattle ranch. Family legend has it that Pete built the Johnson Hotel and catered to farmers and ranchers because no other establishment in Great Falls was welcoming to that (frequently dirty) clientele. Caitlin takes pride in her family’s history of serving the ranching community of Great Falls.