This article is reposted from The Northwestern The author’s use of “Prepaid Legal” refers to the industry and not the market leader services of PrePaid Legal Services, Inc
SCORE column: Prepaid legal or personal attorney?
With the number of lawsuits against businesses increasing each year, business owners need to be prepared to handle potential problems as they arise. Often owners are afraid of amassing huge legal bills and hesitate calling an attorney when they need legal advice. That’s one of the reasons why more businesses are purchasing prepaid legal services. But, is prepaid legal really the way to go for your business?
Mark Mahoney, an attorney at Wise Shepherd Law Offices and SCORE volunteer, says that there are pros and cons to prepaid legal. Mahoney should know. He has served as a network attorney for prepaid companies and also has developed a private practice. On the private side, he is able to develop close personal ties with clients.
“Having a working relationship with a lawyer who knows your business practices, contracts, compliance, and risk areas is not possible with prepaid legal,” Mahoney explained. “When you call for legal services, you can’t request a specific attorney and might talk to someone different every time. However, if you’re looking for limited service, prepaid legal could be a good option for your business.”
Prepaid legal services are like legal insurance. The plans typically provide consumers with certain specific legal services at no cost, and reduced rates for other services in exchange for a membership fee, premium or some other sort of prepayment. Depending on the plan selected, the client has ready access to legal service. This ability to consult with lawyers can often prevent litigation before it starts because you’re more apt to call soon and often.
Robert Jahnke, owner of Top Hat Marketing and a SCORE volunteer, agrees. “Business owners make decisions all the time, and with prepaid legal, you don’t have to think about the cost to get help or answers,” he said. “You pay your monthly fee and have unlimited consultations. You can find out about your rights and what your choices are and talk to an attorney who specializes in the area of law you are having a problem with.”
As a consumer and seller of Pre-Paid Legal Services, the oldest prepaid company in the country and only publicly traded legal services provider, Jahnke has seen great growth in the industry. There are now thousands of companies offering legal services, and this has resulted in some providing less than adequate coverage. Business owners should ask for references and research companies before buying any prepaid legal coverage. Jahnke recommends that you assess your company’s needs and find a plan that matches those requirements.
If you’d like further information about business issues, contact the Green Bay chapter of SCORE at (920) 496-8930 or visit our Web site at www .greenbayscore.org for information on counseling, resources, and upcoming workshops.
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