There are over two million people living in King County. Over 35% of them are earning less than $50,000 per year, and over 20% earn less than $30,000 per year – making them both unable to afford prevailing hourly rates for legal services (which range from $250 to $500 per hour) and ineligible for free legal services offered by traditional nonprofits. This leads to many people being forced to represent themselves, which can often result in less-than-just outcomes. This is especially concerning in family law proceedings, where an unrepresented party may feel pressured or intimidated by the opposing party’s attorney, and may be unaware of his or her rights. Additionally, unrepresented parties often struggle to understand and interpret local court rules and procedures, making it difficult for cases to be handled efficiently, and for the parties to obtain their desired results. Not only does this burden the parties involved, but it also burdens the court system.
That's where Northwest Advocacy Foundation comes in. We are a nonprofit legal services provider funded by donations and reduced client fees. While most law firms set a static hourly rate, the rate that we charge is based not upon an arbitrary number that we decide, but on the client's ability to pay. Our hourly rate is dependent on the client's household size and income, and is between $75 and $200.
Below is our fee schedule (click to enlarge). Find your household size (not including adults without income) in the far left column, and move over to the right to find your gross household income. This is approximately what your hourly rate will be. However, we also consider other factors, like extraordinary expenses, debts, and assets.
A trust account (also known as an IOLTA – Interest On Lawyers Trust Account) is a bank account that is used solely for client funds. This ensures that attorneys properly manage funds that do not belong to them. When a client hires us, they make a deposit into our trust account (this is often referred to as a retainer), and we bill against that amount. Until we earn this money, it belongs to the client. Any unearned funds are returned to the client when we end our work together. The deposit amount required will depend on the case and the scope of our involvement.
If we are providing unbundled services, we will estimate how long it will take to complete the task that we are performing, and you will deposit that amount into our trust account. So, if you ask us to draft something that we estimate will take four hours, and your hourly rate is $100, we will require you to deposit $400, and we will bill against that.
If we are providing full representation, we generally require an initial trust deposit of 10-25 hours in your trust account. So, if your hourly rate is $100, that would be $1,000–$2,500. We also require that you maintain a specified account balance each month, also generally between 10–25 hours.