Earn fees while helping the public
The Modest Means Legal Program is a program of the NH Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service that refers people with “modest means” to attorneys who agree to charge a reduced rate for legal services. Clients are individuals financially over‐income for free legal services yet unable to afford the customary fees of a private attorney.
CLIENT ELIGIBILITY AND ADMINISTRATION
LRS staff members prequalify clients by phone for initial eligibility. In order to qualify for services, potential clients have an income source that falls between 175 ‐ 325% of the federal poverty level. Clients pay a billable rate of between $80 ‐ $125 per hour, depending on their income. The Modest Means Program does not make referrals for fee-generating cases or when clients are eligible for free services or court-appointed counsel.
Attorneys can build/expand their practices through the program, while feeling good about assisting people who need help. Approximately 1,000 Modest Means referrals are made each year, most of which are in family law, followed by bankruptcy, criminal cases where the client is not entitled to court-appointed counsel, and landlord/tenant cases. You will only receive referrals in your selected subject areas. There are no limitations on the number of case types in which to receive referrals, and you choose which cases to accept. There are no fees to join, and no percentage fees due to LRS! Other benefits include occasional free or reduced-rate CLE’s and as of January 1, 2020, Modest Means participants will receive a discounted membership fee to join the full-fee Lawyer Referral Service.
Not sure if this program is right for you? Start out by choosing just a few case types. You may add or drop case types at any time. There are no obligations or time commitments. Participation in the Modest Means Legal Program is a great way to help people in need while still earning some fees.
Since there are three different hourly rate tiers, how will I know how much I can charge the client?
The hourly rate the client appears to qualify for will be printed on the second page of the referral form, right above the eligibility chart.
What if I will be charging a flat fee? How do I determine the amount?
Determine the percentage of reduction between the reduced hourly rate the client is eligible for and your regular hourly rate. Then apply the percentage to your usual flat fee. For example, if the client is eligible for the $100 per hour rate, and your usual hourly rate is $200 per hour, the percent of reduction is 50%. The reduced flat fee should then be 50% of your normal flat fee.
How is client eligibility determined for the program?
Eligibility is determined by the client’s gross household income, liquid assets and household size, which will be listed on the financial eligibility page with each referral. The hourly rate is determined by what percent of the federal poverty level the client’s gross household income (less child support and alimony payments) falls under.
What if I discover more income and/or assets than are listed on the financial eligibility page?
We inform clients that we are pre-qualifying them for the program, and that the final decision is up to the attorney. If you discover more income/assets than is listed on the referral form, and you do not believe they should qualify for the program or should pay a higher rate, send them back to LRS to be re-qualified. You are not obligated to accept any case at any rate that you do not feel is fair. If you believe the client should be charged a higher rate, let us know.
For efficiency purposes, we do not require proof or documentation of income to qualify for the program, but you may request that they bring these items to the initial consultation. If the client did not disclose all income and/or assets in order to obtain the referral, it is not your fault if they have to call us back to be re- qualified.
Can I charge a consultation fee?
Yes. Please inform the client in advance if you require a consultation fee, not to exceed the hourly rate they have qualified for.
How much can I charge for a retainer?
That is up to your discretion upon a review of the client’s case. We inform clients that the average retainer range charged by attorneys through the program is between $800 – $1500 but that it differs from attorney to attorney and case to case.
How much does it cost to join the Modest Means Legal Program panel?
Nothing! No membership fee and no percentage fees will be owed to LRS for cases referred through this program.
Do you have a question not listed here? Contact Sheila Vermacy, (603) 715-3235.