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New Nonprofit Law Firm Offers Affordable Services

August 29, 2018

By Mario A. Cortez

Having to foot the bill for qualified legal representation is often times difficult for members of our community. With average market rates ranging from $300 to $500 an hour, many simply can’t pay for a lawyer, putting them in a major disadvantage during potentially life-changing litigation.

This is where an organization such as People’s Legal Services steps in to fill a need in the community. This legal nonprofit provides accessible legal representation to underserved and lower-income families and individuals.

This law firm currently offers its services in the areas of family law, small claims, and landlord/tenant cases, all at a discounted rate and with Spanish-speaking professionals on its team.

Michelle Luna Reynoso, an attorney and member of People’s Legal Services’ Board of Directors, explained that access to a lawyer is vital and many residents of underserved communities go unrepresented due to the absence of affordable attorneys.

“There is a huge need for free or low cost legal representation and there are not enough organizations that provide that,” said Reynoso.

Reynoso explained that the concept of a legal nonprofit is still a new one in the world of law, with some attorneys not knowing what a legal nonprofit even is or can do.

“The idea is totally new even to other attorneys, but is really important,” she stated.

As a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the IRS, and recognized by the State Bar of California as a nonprofit law corporation, People’s Legal Services applies for grant funding to cover operating costs, which are normally included in hourly attorney fees.

“This way we can charge people a lot less because there is no overhead,” Reynoso explained.

Pricing for this firm’s legal services is based on a sliding scale model, which factors family size and annual income, to set reasonable fixed price points which are much more accessible.

“Our sliding scale model looks at gross annual income and family size, which we tie to the federal income poverty line, and we offer discounted rates based on this,” said Anthony Medina, CEO and Founder of People’s Legal Services. “Our lowest rate, which is our most common rate, is $75 an hour which, (compared to) an average market rate of over $300 an hour, is a huge rebate.”

Through this price point and model, People’s Legal Services also looks to bridge what Medina calls a “justice gap,” a large demographic chasm which separates people who are either priced out of legal services or that would have to risk their financial security to hire a legal professional from those who can.

Most importantly, according to Medina, the attorneys who make up this law office are locals who understand their community.

“We are all from San Diego and grew up blue collar working for everything,” he said. “We do our best to understand people and try to be a partner rather than just people who dictate through litigation.”

“It is great to see a group of people who care about giving back under the same law firm,” Reynoso noted about the team she works with.

For more information about People’s Legal Services, you can call (619) 810-7010, email info@peopleslegalservices.org, or visit the firm’s website at https://peopleslegalservices.org/.

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