Arizona has a nice modest means project that seems to work for middle income clients and attorneys.
Their website explains:
The Modest Means Project is a partnership program from the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education and the State Bar of Arizona. The Project provides low-cost legal assistance to individuals who do not qualify for free legal services, but cannot afford the expertise of attorneys at the standard rate. The Modest Means Project assists individuals in a one-hour meeting for a fee of $75. In that meeting, attorneys can offer brief advice or unbundled services. A lawyer may offer full representation but it is not the expectation of the Modest Means Project. If full representation is requested, the Modest Means Project attorney can agree to offer representation beyond the scope of the Project’s one-hour consultation commitment, but must maintain the fee of $75 per hour.
While this may not solve every problem, it certain provides a system of cost limitation for clients, and helps lawyers tap the latent legal market.
The program received a “meritorious recognition from the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services Brown Award for Legal Access. (Descriptions of award winners here.) Thanks to Will Hornsby, staffer for the Committee, for this information.
We need more programs like this, much better use of lawyer referral programs to guide people to such programs where appropriate, and much better ways to telling the public that there are lower cost options available.
Also, we need to find ways for people to become comfortable about choosing a lawyer, even when they do not know anyone who can make a trusted referral.