Updated: Nov. 26, 2019

In 2016, more than 2 million people in Washington fell between 200% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (poverty guidelines) and were considered of moderate income. This means they probably couldn’t afford a full-fee attorney, yet they did not qualify for free legal aid. The Moderate Means Program (MMP) is a statewide program designed to bridge this gap with attorneys who offer reduced-fee assistance in family, housing, and consumer law cases. The program is a partnership between the Washington State Bar Association and the law schools of Gonzaga University, Seattle University, and the University of Washington.

The WSBA Board of Governors and private grant funding through the Washington State Bar Foundation support the program.

In furtherance of the Moderate Means Program's commitment to serving moderate-income households, in Fall 2019, the Program formally introduced limited license legal technicians to its panel of legal professionals with the hope of providing more low-cost options for clients seeking assistance with family law matters. 

How it Works

Once a potential client applies, law students, under the supervision of a law school staff attorney, conduct a full intake in preparation for referral. This intake includes income information and details of the case. Law students contact legal professionals to place the case. If the attorney or LLLT agrees to speak with the applicant, the law student provides the legal professional’s name and contact information to the applicant. The applicant directly contacts the legal professional for an initial consultation. Neither the WSBA nor the law schools will schedule appointments between applicants and legal professionals.

Legal Professionals

Attorneys and limited license legal technicians get free referrals and access to over 20 free trainings in exchange for reducing their fees. The time legal professionals spend serving moderate income clients can count towards pro bono publico hours as recommended by RPC 6.1 and LLLT RPC 6.1. 

How much do I charge?
The participating legal professional and client should negotiate and determine the fee for representation. Neither WSBA nor the law schools will be involved in setting, monitoring, or enforcing this negotiation and fee agreement. Any and all fees agreed upon by lawyers and their clients are subject to the requirements of Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5 and LLLT Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5. Lawyers and LLLTs are encouraged to provide written fee agreements to ensure that all parties understand the scope and cost of representation.

We suggest the sliding scale below based on where the client falls within the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The law student will let you know the client’s FPL.

Attorneys:

Client income 200–250% of the FPL: reduce fee by 75% 
Client income 250–350% of the FPL: reduce fee by 50% 
Client income 350–400% of the FPL: reduce fee by 25%

Limited License Legal Professionals:

Client income 200-250% FPL = reduce fee by 50% 
Client income 250-400% FPL = reduce fee by 25% 

What are the Eligibility Requirements?
Attorneys and LLLTs must be an active WSBA license holder in good standing and carry malpractice insurance.

I don’t practice in family, housing or consumer law; can I still participate?
Yes! Attorneys may request attorney mentors in family, housing, or consumer law. LLLTs may request LLLT mentors for family law matters, as set forth under APR 28

How many referrals will I get?
The number of referrals you get depends on the number of inquiries, the counties of need, and types of cases we receive. To maximize your chances of getting a referral, sign up outside your primary county of practice. King and Spokane counties have the highest amount of legal professionals, while rural areas have very few. Spanish-speaking legal professionals are always in high demand.

For more information, please review this manual or contact publicservice@wsba.org.

Sign-up for Moderate Means through your mywsba.org account.

Clients

For more information on eligibility requirements and applying for legal services through the program, please visit the MMP clients page.

Law Students

The Moderate Means Program is a way to gain valuable experience interviewing clients and applying classroom topics to real life. To find out more about getting involved, please contact Clay Wilson at Seattle University and University of Washington or Maggie Schott at Gonzaga University.