WHEREAS, in 1993 the Philadelphia Bar Association established the Low Fee Plan ("Plan"), administered by the Lawyer Referral and Information Service Committee, to provide legal services to individuals who do not qualify for free legal assistance, but due to income limitations are unable to pay for attorneys in private practice.
WHEREAS, through the Plan attorney members of the Philadelphia Bar Association agree to provide legal services that are limited in scope for a reduced hourly rate or for a specific reduced fee for a discreet task.
WHEREAS, a potential client must have a household income of less that 250% of the Official Poverty Threshold to qualify for a referral through the Plan.
WHEREAS, potential client intake and income eligibility screening services are handled by legal aid organizations in Philadelphia, using a one page form provided by the Philadelphia Bar Association. The completed form is forwarded to the Philadelphia Bar Association, which refers the potential client to a member of the appropriate practice panel. Annually, approximately 500 potential clients are referred through the Plan.
WHEREAS, intake is hampered as the form does not clearly define the parameters of the services to be provided by the participating attorney for the defined fee, leading to confusion and misunderstanding among intake workers, potential clients and the attorneys who agree to accept referrals through the Plan.
WHEREAS, the reduced hourly fee of $50 per hour and most of the specific reduced fees have not changed since the establishment of the program in 1993.
WHEREAS, the failure of the reduced fee structure to keep pace with the economy together with the lack of clarity regarding the services to be provided for the stated fee have made it difficult to maintain adequate practice panels for referrals and to manage the expectations of potential clients referred through the Plan.
WHEREAS, the Lawyer Referral and Information Service Committee has developed specific intake forms for each practice panel that clearly define the services that will and will not be provided for potential client at the stated fee.
WHEREAS, the Lawyer Referral and Information Service Committee has revised the Plan’s fee schedule to reflect increased fees, still significantly reduced.
WHEREAS, the Lawyer Referral and Information Service Committee has changed the name of the program to the Modest Means Program of the Philadelphia Bar Association, bringing the program in conformity with other similar programs of metropolitan bar associations nationwide.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association Board of Governors adopts the revised Modest Means Program of the Philadelphia Bar Association, attached hereto as Exhibit A;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Lawyer Referral and Information Service Committee is authorized to make such adjustments to the Modest Means Program as are necessary for the efficient and effective maintenance of the program and for the benefit of the community served, and shall report such changes to the Board of Governors.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: September 22, 2011