Like DiFilippo Holistic Law Center, many other attorneys throughout the country are now offering “Low Bono” legal services through non-profit law firms to low-and moderate-income people who make too much money to qualify for Legal Aid but cannot afford traditional legal fees. Through offering Low Bono legal services, DHLC and other attorneys are addressing a big problem in this country—the lack of access to justice for low-and moderate-income people.
This lack of access to justice is commonly referred to as the justice gap
What is the justice gap?
While the indigent who need legal services may qualify for certain governmental programs at legal aid organizations, there is a significant group of low-and middle-income people who desperately need lawyers, but cannot afford to hire a for-profit lawyer charging market-rates. Left with limited options, these needy people seek legal assistance through legal aid organizations. Shockingly, more than half of needy people are turned away from these organizations, and there are simply not enough for-profit attorneys providing pro bono legal representation to low-and middle-income people to meet this need. This is the justice gap.
The “Low-Bono” Difference
The “Low-Bono” approach helps literally every stakeholder in the justice system and makes the system work the way we all believe it should: It helps the client, who would otherwise be pro se, with potentially no formal education or knowledge of the justice system. It helps the judges, who cannot give legal advice, but see people flounder through pleadings and hearings. It helps clerks, who also cannot provide legal advice, but who the public often turn to for exactly that. It helps attorneys, who for moral and political reasons want to help the poor, but also need to make a living. Overall, the administration of justice greatly benefits from the addition of Low-Bono legal representation.
I am hopeful that other State Bars across the country—especially Texas— follow the lead of the Washington State Bar!