The Statewide Low Fee Family Law Project, a joint initiative of the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) and the HCBA’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS), provides legal assistance at reduced rates for low-income individuals with family law issues.  Attorneys participating in the program agree to provide full representation to clients for a $500 retainer and at an hourly rate of $55 per hour.

How the Program Works

The Low Fee Family Law Project Coordinator screens callers to determine if they are eligible for the program.  Eligible clients will:

  1. Be employed or on SSI/SSDI,
  2. Have a household income that lies between 125-250% of the federal poverty guidelines, and
  3. Have a family law matter that is not currently involved with Child Protective Services or up for Appeal.

Upon determining that the potential client appears to be eligible for services through Low Fee Family Law Project, the Low Fee Family Law Project Coordinator contacts attorneys to determine if they are available to take a new case.  The coordinator will notify the attorney of the opposing party, existence of opposing counsel, any upcoming deadlines, and the procedural history of the case prior to completing the referral.  If the attorney agrees to meet with the potential client, the coordinator will set up an appointment.  Potential clients must indicate that they posses the $500 retainer fee before an appointment will be made.

After the official referral has been made, the coordinator will send the attorney all information that was provided to the program during the screening process.  If the attorney determines that the potential client has not truthfully disclosed their available assets or other important information about the case, the attorney is free to notify the potential client that they must charge their normal rates or to terminate the relationship.

Reporting Requirements and Panel Fees

Attorneys participating in the program are asked to update the LRIS on the status of their cases.  However, as opposed to full fee cases referred through the traditional LRIS process, NO percentage fees are collected on Low Fee Family Law cases.  Additionally, attorneys participating in the Low Fee Family Law Project who are not members of the HCBA may waive the non-member surcharge.

Interested in joining the Low Fee Family Law Project?  Contact Dana Miner at dana@hcba.org for a copy of this year’s application.

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