Do I qualify?
At Open Legal Services, we understand that the amount of your paycheck does not necessarily represent your budget. That’s why we have a sliding scale for our fees, and also take into account expenses such as child support and alimony. Take a look at the chart below to get an idea of what your qualified rate might be, and then contact us for an official quote.
Note: This income scale is derived from 125-300% of the 2017 federal poverty level (FPL)
An example to show how our sliding scale rate table works
A family of four that makes $45,000 a year would pay $75 per hour. Note that we usually require a 10-hour retainer to be paid up front. In this hypothetical case, that amount would be $750.
How does Open Legal Services provide quality representation at such low prices?
Traditionally, clients have thought their attorney was very skilled if they charged a lot of money. You often hear “you get what you pay for,” but we also often hear clients complain that their previous attorney charged a lot of money and didn’t produce a lot of results. Is an attorney that charges $300/hour really twice as good as one that charges only $150/hour? What if attorneys could run their businesses more carefully and thus be able to charge less? You get the same quality attorney at a lower price. We believe that price is not an accurate indicator of quality and that justice should no longer be available only to the wealthy. At Open Legal Services we take advantage of the following factors:
- A team approach: Similar to how an attending physician supervises a team of doctors, residents, and nurses caring for a patient in the hospital, all of our staff attorneys are supervised on every case by a supervising attorney. We also assign two attorneys to our cases. Thus if the primary attorney has a scheduling conflict, the secondary attorney is already in place to take over. This has the added benefit that our attorneys can check each other’s work and share their training and experience.
- Focusing on what we do best: We don’t take cases that are really big and complicated. Instead we focus on the majority of cases which are simpler, smaller, and more routine. For example, we focus on third degree felony and misdemeanor cases rather than first degree felony cases.
- Recruiting attorneys who do quality work: We are fortunate that both of the law schools in Utah have top ranked practical training programs. Although we often hire recent graduates, they already have hands on training for many of the types of cases we handle.
- Mentoring: The Utah State Bar has a mandatory mentoring program where more established attorneys who have practiced for several years mentor newly admitted attorneys. This is a fantastic way for attorneys to gain valuable training. Our attorneys also receive ongoing mentoring from local firms that support our mission.
- A systems approach: Doctors and pilots use checklists to prevent mistakes, and they use technology to detect issues before they become problems. We do the same. For example, we have built our own database system for tracking cases and hours billed, which helps our attorneys manage their caseload and allows them to focus on practicing law instead of getting bogged down in accounting, time tracking, and other administrative tasks. Because we built this system ourselves, we can continually modify it to handle new issues and problems that come up, thus ensuring that they never happen again.
- Operating as a non-profit: We pay less in taxes, and our attorneys are eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. In addition, the courts and other nonprofits can refer clients directly to us, which almost completely eliminates marketing expenses. As a nonprofit we are also eligible for free or discounted software and other products.
- We don’t pay for costly marketing: Search terms like “Criminal Lawyer” and “Defense Attorney” can cost upwards of $100 per click on Google AdWords. If it takes 10 clicks to get one client then the attorney is starting $1,000 in the hole before doing any legal work.
- Lower prices are actually a strategic advantage. If the opposing party hired the “best” (most expensive) attorney in town at say $350/hour then they are going to run out of money much sooner than our client will.