Tipping the Scales of Justice: The Role of the Nonprofit Sliding Scale Law Firm in the Delivery of Legal Services

Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1424

20 NYU J. of Legs & Pub. Pol'y 375 (2017)

29 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2017

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Mitch -

University of Wisconsin Law School

Date Written: September 21, 2017

Abstract

Most research on providing legal services for low-income clients has focused on (1) government-funded programs, (2) private donor-funded programs, and (3) pro bono programs. Despite the valuable services these programs provide, a well-documented justice gap persists. Other models for the delivery of legal services exist, but are not well known or understood. One such approach has existed for years without scholarly study: the nonprofit organization that only serves low-income clients and receives its funding primarily on the basis of sliding-scale fees paid by clients. Based upon the author’s personal experience starting a nonprofit Sliding Scale Law Firm (SSLF), and informed by interviews with attorneys working at SSLFs across the country, Part I of this article describes the structure of these nonprofit SSLFs. Part II addresses the role that the SSLF model fills in the overall system of legal service delivery: SSLFs reduce the justice gap by providing services to clients who cannot obtain free legal services, but cannot afford to hire an attorney at prevailing market rates.

Keywords: Civil legal Aid, Access to Justice, Low Bono, Pro Bono, LSC, Public Defender, 501(c)3, Legal Services Delivery, Nonprofit Sliding Scale Law Firm

Suggested Citation

-, Mitch, Tipping the Scales of Justice: The Role of the Nonprofit Sliding Scale Law Firm in the Delivery of Legal Services (September 21, 2017). Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1424, 20 NYU J. of Legs & Pub. Pol'y 375 (2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3040840

Mitch - (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin Law School ( email )

975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States

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