WHEREAS, on May 20, 1993, the Philadelphia Bar Associations Board of Governors approved the creation of the Low Fee Plan to address the unavailability of legal services to low-income persons having legal problems in Philadelphia; and
WHEREAS, the Low Fee Plan was designed to serve as a safety net for those in need of legal services whose income is above the eligibility ceiling for Community Legal Services, Philadelphia Legal Assistance and other legal aid organizations applying the official poverty threshold (OPT) guideline as established by the Office of Management and Budget, but no more than 200% of OPT; and
WHEREAS, the Low Fee Plan has been a successful program, matching low income clients with lawyers willing to handle limited scope and non-fee generating matters for a significantly reduced legal fee; and
WHEREAS, the Low Fee Plan makes approximately 500 referrals of low income clients to attorneys each year; and
WHEREAS, the success of the Low Fee Plan demonstrates the willingness of the Philadelphia legal community to address the needs of low income communities; and
WHEREAS, the Legal Services Corporation, recognizing that the OPT has not kept pace with changing market conditions as an accurate measure of poverty in America, has raised the ceiling of eligibility for legal assistance to 200% of OPT, with Community Legal Services, Philadelphia Legal Assistance and other legal aid organizations also raising their income eligibility limits in some areas; and
WHEREAS, in order to fulfill the intended purpose of the Low Fee Plan to serve as a legal safety net for those low income persons who do not meet the income qualifications for legal aid, it is necessary to raise the income eligibility limit of the Low Fee Plan.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association raise the income eligibility limit to qualify for reduced cost legal services through the Low Fee Plan to 250% of the Official Poverty Threshold, as established by the Office of Management and Budget.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: MAY 25, 2006