WSBA Moderate Means Program

Moderate Means Program

What is the Moderate Means Program?

·         The Moderate Means Program (MMP) is a partnership between the WSBA and the three law schools in Washington State.

·         Seattle University was the first law school to implement the program in the Spring of 2011.

·         The purpose of the program is to increase access to civil legal services for moderate means individuals (those between 200% and 400% of the federal poverty level), who cannot afford to hire private attorneys at prevailing rates but make too much money to qualify for traditional civil legal aid services.

·         The program focuses on the areas of Family, Consumer and Housing law.

How does the program work?

·         Moderate Means Program law student interns interview potential clients by telephone to collect information and evaluate their cases.

·         After a case has been evaluated and determined to be appropriate for the program, the student contacts one or more participating attorneys who are offered the opportunity to work with the client at a reduced fee.

·         Once an attorney agrees to take a case, the client will be directed to the attorney and the intake materials developed by the student will be sent to the attorney.

·         The attorney will then meet in person with the client to determine what services are appropriate.

·         MMP offers two opportunities for students to get involved:

     1. Practicum (semester-long course) which offers 3 credits. Open to 2Ls and 3Ls.

     2. Summer Internship (10 weeks, full-time or part-time) where students perform client intakes and make referrals to participating attorneys. Open to 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls.

How can people of moderate means apply for services?

·         To apply for services through the Moderate Means Program, clients can go to the MMP website and fill out the online application.  This will only take a few minutes. 

·         After we receive the application, a Moderate Means Program student intern will call the potential client to complete an intake. 

·         If your income falls below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, you should contact the CLEAR Program instead at 888-201-1014.

Why should law students participate in the Moderate Means Program?

·         It is satisfying to know that you are helping moderate income individuals who otherwise might not receive any legal help at all.

·         You receive training on how to interview clients and gain hands-on experience interviewing clients.

·         You receive training and experience using the Legal Server database, which is used by most of the civil legal aid organizations in Washington State.

·         You receive training in the substantive legal areas of family, housing, and consumer and learn how to do fast and efficient issue-spotting.

·         The opportunity to engage in legal research is included in this position, and you learn where to find practical legal information and how to use it.

·         Advice and mentoring by experienced attorneys is offered throughout your internship. You will have the opportunity to help shape and improve upon the functioning of the program.

What kind of commitment do students need to make to be involved?

·         Students enrolled in the practicum should expect to allot around 10 hours per week to the program, for one semester (For the first few weeks, students are trained in class sessions. Once fully trained, students attend one 1.5 hour meeting per week and conduct 8 hours of work for MMP per week). They are invited to continue to volunteer beyond the practicum semester. Students in this course will learn and apply interviewing, issue spotting, focused legal writing, and practice management skills while working with individuals seeking assistance with family law, consumer, or housing matters. This course fulfills the professional skills requirement.

·         The Moderate Means Program runs year-round, so students may have the opportunity to volunteer as interns beyond their first semester.

What kind of trainings have been offered to law students?

Moderate Means Program interns receive training in the legal areas that the program covers, as well as ethics, client interviewing, working with interpreters and the Legal Server database.  Many of the trainings are videotaped and are available to watch on MediaLaw.

Residential Evictions
Mark Chattin: 
Legal Action Center and SU Law Adjunct Faculty

Residential Foreclosures 
Rory O'Sullivan: 
Northwest Justice Project and SU Law Adjunct Faculty

Divorce in Washington State 
Leslie Savina: 
Northwest Justice Project

Domestic Violence 
Leslie Savina: 
Northwest Justice Project

Debt Collection and Bankruptcy 
Fred Corbit and Julia Kellison: 
Northwest Justice Project

Client Interviewing
Bryan Adamson: SU Law Faculty; Barbara Frost: SU Law Adjunct Faculty

Professional Responsibility
John Strait: SU Law Faculty

Manufactured Home Law
Ishbel Dickens: Executive Director, Manufactured Home Owners Association of America

Housing Law
Merf Ehman: Columbia Legal Services

Who do I contact for questions or more information?

If you have any additional questions, contact MMP Attorney Clay Wilson at


Sullivan Hall