Moderate Means Program
See what students are saying about the Moderate Means Program.
What is the Moderate Means Program?
The Moderate Means Program (MMP) is a partnership between the Washington State Bar Association 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. Through this program, eligible clients can get assistance in the areas of Family, Consumer and Housing law. For more information about MMP.
How are law students involved with the program?
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 including the student's case notes and legal analysis will be sent to the attorney. The attorney will then meet with the client to determine what services are appropriate. There are two ways for students to get involved with MMP:
- Fall or Spring Practicum (semester-long course) which offers 3 credits. Open to 2Ls and 3Ls
- Summer Internship (10 weeks, full-time or part-time) which is unpaid. Open to rising 2Ls, and 3Ls
How do law students benefit from interning with the Moderate Means Program?
- Students interview a high volume of clients which gives them an opportunity to build and hone their interviewing skills.
- Students receive training and experience using the Legal Server database, which is used by most of the civil legal aid organizations in Washington State and around the country.
- Training is provided in the substantive legal areas of family, housing, and consumer law, as well as how to do fast and efficient issue-spotting.
- Students hone their legal research skills and learn how to utilize resources to perform an initial legal analysis of the case.
- Students benefit from detailed feedback from supervising attorneys to help them hone their skills in client interviewing, legal research and analysis, and writing case notes and preparing case files.
- Students gain a good grasp of the larger legal network through providing referral information to people who are not eligible for a referral to an MMP attorney.
- Students work with MMP attorneys to facilitate a good referral.
- Students gain satisfaction helping moderate income individuals who otherwise might not receive any legal help at all.
- Students can receive credit towards their Pro Bono Pledge hours.
- This course fulfills the professional skills requirement.
- This course offers hands-on, experiential learning, but it does not count toward your Clinic or Externship credit limits.
What kind of commitment do students need to make to be involved?
Fall and Spring Practicums:
- Student attend class two days a week for an hour and 15 minutes for three weeks.
- Once the initial training is complete, students commit to 8 hours per week for the remainder of the semester.
- Students who complete the practicum are invited to continue to work at MMP on a volunteer basis.
- Students can commit to a part-time internship of a minimum of 6 hours per week or a full-time internship of 37.5 hours per week.
- Students participate in intensive upfront training on family, housing and consumer law, client interviewing, professionalism and ethics and program protocols and systems. The training generally takes three weeks of meeting twice per week. Once the training is complete, students are expected to perform intakes and make referrals for a minimum of 6 hours per week.
- Students who complete the summer internship are invited to continue to work at MMP on a volunteer basis.
What are students saying about their experience with MMP?
"The Moderate Means Program has been a great experience that has expanded my view on the scope of legal issues that are pertinent to those who cannot normally afford legal services. I had a strong interest in working in the public interest field before working for MMP, however, I was not sure the field of law that I wanted to pursue. When I first came to law school I was convinced that health law would be my major focus. Now, thanks to MMP, I've been able to expand my potential areas of interest and broaden the scope to areas of the law that I would like to learn even more about." Practicum Student, 2L
"I have really come a long way with interviewing clients over the phone this semester. I no longer get anxious before I pick up the phone and I rarely have to pause and think for a long time before I speak. Practice makes perfect I guess. Four hours on the phone flies by because I am genuinely having fun. Another good thing I like about this class is that it provides practical opportunities to research new areas of the law that I haven't been exposed too yet. I have learned a lot by going to walawhelp.org and reading the brochures and then just looking at the statute. As someone who wants to go into solo practice, this skill is going to be vital to teaching myself. I look forward to finishing the semester and continuing on as a volunteer with the MMP." Practicum Student, 3L
"My experience in this practicum has been very positive. Additionally, I want to reiterate that this experience has been the most engaging experience in law school yet, and has given me more confidence in client interaction and my ability to research any civil law topic that comes up. This class is a wonderful opportunity to engage with clients in a way that is both challenging but safe, and to immerse in a broad range of legal areas." Practicum Student, 3L
Contact MMP Staff Attorney Clay Wilson at email@example.com.