350 Washington State Lawyers Volunteer to Cut Fees for Moderate Means Clients
Posted Apr 9, 2012 6:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
More than 350 lawyers have agreed to cut their legal fees for clients of modest means in a program sponsored by the Washington State Bar Association.
The program recommends that participating lawyers offer sliding-scale fees based on the client’s income, according to the WSBA website and a stories in Seattle Times and the Puget Sound Business Journal.
Clients would be eligible for the program if their household income is between 200 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level. For a four-person household, that translates to income between $45,622 and $91,244.
The program focuses on family law, consumer and housing cases. Law students at Seattle University, the University of Washington and Gonzaga University will conduct client intake and work with supervisors to decide whether to refer the work to participating lawyers.
The bar association will provide free online training to lawyers in the program that qualifies for continuing legal education credit. The association also plans to pair new or inexperienced lawyers with mentors to help them.
The association sees the program as a win-win situation. Clients will get much-needed legal help that may help them stay in their homes, remain safe from abuse and get financial help. Lawyers will get free training and mentoring, as well as referrals to help build a client base. “Together, participating lawyers and students will help to close the justice gap in Washington state,” the bar says on an online FAQ page devoted to the program.