Moderate Means Program
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the WSBA Moderate Means Program?
The Moderate Means Program is a state-wide, reduced-fee lawyer referral service formed through a partnership between the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) and the law schools of Gonzaga University, Seattle University, and the University of Washington. The Program is designed to connect moderate-income households with lawyers who offer reduced-fee assistance in the high demand areas of family, housing and consumer law. Lawyers can participate with the Moderate Means Program by accepting case referrals, mentoring less experienced lawyers, or helping to develop public service trainings.
2. How is the Moderate Means Program funded?
WSBA's Moderate Means Program partnership with the three law schools began in 2011 with a $200,000 commitment of support from WSBA's Board of Governors (BOG). The Program continues with support from the BOG and with private grant funding through the Washington State Bar Foundation.
3. How do lawyers benefit from the Moderate Means Program?
Participating lawyers receive free case referrals for individuals who are screened by law student volunteers for income and case type eligibility. Participating lawyers can request mentor support for cases referred by the Moderate Means Program. Lawyers can also attend or view free MCLE-accredited public service training modules which focus on issues unique to representing low- and moderate-income clients.
4. What kind of training is available for participating lawyers?
As part of WSBA's strategic goal to enhance the culture of service among members, we offer free MCLE-accredited training to volunteers who are engaged in pro bono and public service work. Visit the CLE store for a current list of live and recorded public service training courses.
5. Are there requirements for lawyers to participate in the Moderate Means Program?
Lawyers participating in the Moderate Means Program must must be active members of the WSBA and will be subject to a WSBA discipline check. Lawyers who sign up to receive case referrals must carry malpractice insurance.
6. Do I need to carry my own malpractice insurance to participate in the Moderate Means Program?
Yes, you must carry malpractice insurance to receive case referrals from the Moderate Means Program. The WSBA does not provide malpractice insurance coverage for cases referred by or for lawyers participating in the Moderate Means Program. The WSBA-sponsored professional liability insurance is offered through ALPS. To begin the application process, please visit ALPS or call 1-800-367-2577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If your malpractice insurance coverage terminates while you are participating in the Moderate Means Program, please contact WSBA's Public Service Program (email@example.com) to update your Moderate Means Program profile.
7. I do not live or work in Seattle. Can I still participate in the Moderate Means Program?
Yes, we receive requests for legal assistance for moderate-income clients in every county around the state. We need participating attorneys for those case referrals. We have a particular need for participating attorneys in central and coastal Washington counties.
8. How will I receive Moderate Means Program case referrals?
Under the supervision of staff attorneys, law student volunteers screen, conduct intake, and develop case summary for each Moderate Means Program client. A law student volunteer will contact you by telephone or email with the case intake and summary information when a referral becomes available in your county and substantive practice area. The student will inquire about your availability to accept the referral and will ask you to determine whether the case is a conflict of interest for you. Once you accept a case referral, the prospective client will contact you directly to schedule a consultation.
9. What if the Moderate Means Program client is a conflict of interest for me?
Participating lawyers are responsible for conducting a conflict of interest check in a manner consistent with their normal course of business. If a lawyer has a conflict of interest with a person referred by the Moderate Means Program, the lawyer should inform the law student of the conflict and should encourage the individual seeking assistance to contact the law student for an alternate referral.
10. What fees and/or advance fee deposits may I charge a client referred by the Moderate Means Program?
The participating lawyer and Moderate Means Program 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. WSBA suggests that participating lawyers reduce their standard fees according to the following sliding fee scale and the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for clients who are referred by the Program:
Law student volunteers will help the client determine where their household income falls on the Federal Poverty Level and will send that information to the participating lawyer with the client's referral information. Any and all fees agreed upon by lawyers and their clients are subject to the requirements of Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5. Lawyers are encouraged to provide written fee agreements to ensure that all parties understand the scope and cost of representation.
11. How can I sign up for the Moderate Means Program?
Visit www.mywsba.org/MM_Signup and click the 'Volunteer Now' link under the blue Moderate Means Program icon to get started today! You will be prompted to log in and complete a short questionnaire about how you prefer to participate in the Program.
12. How do clients apply for legal help through the Moderate Means Program?
Prospective clients may visit www.moderatemeanswa.org to apply for Moderate Means Program legal help online.
The Washington State Bar Foundation ensures WSBA has the resources to lead on issues of justice, public service, and diversity. As part of WSBA's strategic goal to enhance the culture of service among members, we are pleased to offer the WSBA Moderate Means Program as a public service opportunity.
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