Our Looking into Low Bono series addressed an often-overlooked question: how do we provide legal services to people who are above the poverty line, but who would struggle to pay for legal services at the market rate. According to the ABA, in 2012 nearly a million people had their legal needs unmet due to “insufficient resources.”
In 2013 –2014, the D.C. Bar convened a group to examine models for addressing these unmet legal needs. And in August of 2014, the American Bar Association urged its House of Delegates to adopt a resolution exhorting bar associations, courts, law schools, legal services organizations, and law firms to advance initiatives that encourage and equip newly-admitted lawyers to meet the legal needs of “underserved populations.”
Looking into Low Bono promoted a community-wide discussion about various approaches to increasing the provision of “low bono” legal services aimed at clients who are ineligible for free legal assistance.
If you weren’t able to make it for these events, or if you were but still want more information, we’ve collected some of the key resources that were identified or discussed at our Looking Into Low Bono series. And if you’d like to find out even more, or join our Google Group, please email our Executive Director, Nancy Lopez.
Intro to Low Bono/The Justice Gap
Modest Means Programs (October 2014)
Further Reading (October 2014)
Supporting Reduced-Fee Lawyers
D.C. Bar Practice Management Advisory Service: A free and confidential service of the D.C. Bar to provide practice management information and resources to members.
- It offers a variety of services, including telephone consultations for practice guidance and ethical questions. All consultations are confidential.
- It also offers trainings, such as Basic Training and Beyond, Successful Small Firm Practice, Lunch & Learn opportunities, confidential counseling services for stress and substance abuse, and an attorney-client arbitration board to aid in settling fee disputes.
Civil Justice, Inc: A nonprofit organization that offers a lawyer referral service.
- Attorneys who participate in the Civil Justice Network are solo and small firm Maryland attorneys who receive referrals, mentoring, and networking opportunities that allow them to expand their own practices while increasing access to legal assistance for traditionally underserved members of the public.
Reduced-Fee Lawyer Referral Services
Washington State Bar Association’s Moderate Means referral program: Washington State Bar Association partners with the law schools of Gonzaga University, Seattle University, and the University of Washington to operate this referral program.
Access to Justice Lawyer Referral Service (coming soon): This service will be launched by attorney Steven Krieger and will connect reduced-fee lawyers with modest means clients in Virginia.
Incubator and post-graduate residency models developed by law schools, bar associations, and private firms help low-bono lawyers develop the skills necessary to represent individuals, families, and businesses:
The Affordable Law Firm of DC: A partnership between Georgetown Law, DLA Piper and Arent Fox to create a non-profit law firm, staffed by new Georgetown graduates, to provide affordable legal services to modest-means clients
American Lawyer, Georgetown Pairs Up With DLA Piper, Arent Fox to Open Low Bono Firm
Chicago Bar Foundation, Justice Entrepreneurs Project: Trains lawyers interested in running reduced-fee law practices
Technology can help reduced-fee practitioners (and even pro se litigants) get valuable information and do legal work more efficiently.
Debt & Eviction Navigator: An app that supports social workers serving home-bound elderly; built by Georgetown Law and Jewish Association Serving the Aging
We’ll continue to look into Low Bono in the coming months. Our next event takes place on September 21, and it’s free and open to all. If you’d like to find out even more or join our Google Group, please email our Executive Director, Nancy Lopez. Finally, if you’d like an even more detailed summary of our low bono series and these resources, our low bono working group has put together a longer Compendium of Resources.