A family of 4 with up to $79,950 in annual household income can qualify to receive discounted legal services

CONCORD, NH – Access to affordable legal services is within reach of more Granite Staters thanks to a new program called the Modest Means Legal Referral Program launched by the NH Bar Association earlier this summer.

Modest Means Legal Referral seeks to connect consumers who can pay for a lawyer’s help – just not the full market rate – with attorneys in New Hampshire who are willing to accept some clients at discounted rates.

“The Modest Means Program can help by qualifying more people at higher income levels than ever before to receive reduced-fee legal services and connecting them with the right attorney to handle the case,” said Sheila Vermacy, coordinator of the Modest Means Legal Program and LRS.

“The program’s name, “Modest Means,” reflects the clients the program will serve,” commented Attorney Brad Kuster, chair of the NHBA’s Lawyer Referral Service Subcommittee. “By expanding the income levels for eligibility, more people can get referrals” Under the program’s eligibility guidelines and sliding fee scale, a family of four making up to $79,950 per year would pay $125 per hour for legal help. The Modest Means Legal Program provides those living between 150 and 250 percent of federal poverty level (FPL) with an $80 hourly rate for legal services; for those between 251 and 300 percent, the cap is $100; and for those between 301 and 325 percent, the cap is $125.

It’s unclear exactly how many New Hampshire residents the Modest Means Legal Program could potentially help, but statistics indicate that the number could be substantial. According to US Census Bureau data, 333,700 people in New Hampshire live between 200 and 399 percent of FPL.

The Modest Means Legal Program is also expected to reduce the number of litigants who attempt to navigate the court system on their own. The NH Judicial Branch estimates that between 61 and 70 percent of all litigants in New Hampshire are self-represented, which puts considerable strain on the justice system.

Callers to the Modest Means Legal Program will reach a live person who is knowledgeable and ready to help with referrals to attorneys and other community resources when applicable. Anyone with a legal problem based in New Hampshire can call Modest Means at 603-715-3290.

The Modest Means Legal Program is part of the NH Bar Association’s legal services offerings, which include the Lawyer Referral Service (full-fee) and Pro Bono Referral Program for low-income people.

The New Hampshire Bar Association, headquartered in Concord, represents more than 5,000 licensed lawyers and judges in New Hampshire and supports members of the legal profession and their service to the public and the justice system.