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Lawyers are underserving or overcharging many persons of moderate income who are in need of legal services. This can be unfortunate for the client group affected. It also has major ethical implications. The bar, a profession with semi-monopoly privileges, has an ethical obligation, in return for its professional status and monopoly benefits, to make its services available at a fair price to all needing legal services who can afford to pay. The ethical obligation is enhanced by the fact that if lawyers do not serve moderate-income persons in need of their help, others less qualified are likely to provide the needed services. The bar very properly has been greatly concerned with the ethical standards and behavior of individual lawyers and law firms. It should be equally concerned with the profession's overall ethical obligation to the society at large and to major groups within the society.
Moderate-income persons, for purposes of this discussion, are those with incomes just above what will qualify them for legal aid up to average middle-income. Depending on the locality, this income range currently is somewhere between ten and fifteen thousand dollars per year at the bottom up to forty to fifty thousand dollars at the top. Those of moderate income obviously constitute a large proportion of the American population.
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