Modest Means Program

Modest Means Panel Program

NOTE: WE ARE CURRENTLY NOT ACCEPTING MODEST MEANS APPLICATIONS. Other possible resources may be: Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York (833-628-0087) or The Legal Project (518-435-1770)

The Schenectady County Bar Association is pleased to announce a program meant to meet the needs of litigants with limited financial means.

The Modest Means Program offers reduced fee legal services to Family
Court and Matrimonial litigants with cases pending in Schenectady
Litigants must meet financial guidelines in order to qualify
for the Panel. The Program will encompass litigants who earn too much to
qualify for Legal Aid, Assigned Counsel, or other available pro bono
services, but do not earn enough or possess sufficient assets to secure
private counsel at the going market rates.

Attorney participation
on the Panel is voluntary. Attorneys who elect to be on the Panel agree
to bill up to $100 per hour for their services, and to take reduced retainers
of up to $1,000. In all other respects, participating attorneys are
free to take or decline a client and to collect fees or expenses charged
for work performed.

Review forms and potential clients and attorney panel members below. For more information, contact


Modest Means Program Mission Statement

Mission Statement:

The mission of the Modest Means Program is to meet the overwhelming need for access to the justice system for moderate-income individuals with Matrimonial/Family Law needs, where legal aid and pro bono assistance is not possible, and household resources are insufficient to pay prevailing hourly rates for legal services. The Modest Means Program will meet this need by providing moderate-income individuals access to a panel of attorneys who besides providing a public service, will also have the opportunity to broaden their practice.


Guidelines for Qualification

Subject Matter Eligibility:
Matrimonial/Family Law – the Modest Means Panel will only address matrimonial and family law matters

Geographic Eligibility:
The client must have a case in Schenectady County.  The individual does not have to reside in this County.

Client Eligibility:
To qualify for a referral to a Modest Means Panel Attorney, the individual (or co-signor if applicable) must complete a financial eligibility statement, attach six (6) weeks of their most recent pay stubs, and meet the following income levels*:

Number in Household Total Monthly Income Total Annual Income
1 $2,166 $26,000
2 $2,916 $35,000
3 $3,666 $44,000
4 $4,416 $53,000
5 $5,166 $62,000
6 $5,916 $71,000
7 $6,666 $80,000
8 $7,416 $89,000
Each additional person $750 +$9,000

* Child support received is not calculated in the monthly income range.  In addition, the individual must not have a Net Worth or interest in a marital estate which is the subject of the instant litigation in excess of $2,000 cash assets; $2,500 liquid assets; or $20,000 equity in a primary/marital residence where minor children do not reside.

  1. Modest Means staff may request, and the client shall be required to provide, documentation from the client relative to income.
  2. Applicants who qualify for Legal Aid services or other low-income legal services such as The Legal Project shall not be deemed eligible for a Modest Means referral.

The fee charged to the client for the initial one hour consultation shall be no more than $50. Modest Means Panel attorneys agree to charge no more than the following fees for clients referred to them by the Panel:
Hourly Fees
Retainer Fee

Fees to the Modest Means Panel:
Clients shall pay a $15.00 non-refundable processing fee to the Schenectady County Bar Association.

Requirements for Panel Membership:

  1. All members must show evidence that they have malpractice insurance currently in effect in the minimum amount of $100,000.00 single occurrence and $300,000.00 aggregate per year.
  2. Panel Members must meet the Statement of Qualifications.
  3. There are no added fees to attorneys who participate on the Modest Means Panel.

Referral Procedures:
Clients will be assigned to Panel Members on a rotational basis, in order to guarantee that all participating attorneys have equal opportunity.

Modest Means Program Forms for Potential Clients

Client Intake Form - Not currently accepting applications

Modest Means Program Forms for Potential Attorneys

Attorney Application for Panel Appointment