Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Does anyone know anything about Prepaid Legal provider fims?

I met someone who, if their story is true, practice a type o paddicakes12/27/09
Yeah, it really exists, although depending on the firm, the cranky12/27/09
i worked at a firm that did general ID work for a few months JJPisdead12/28/09
You are correct, but for many, making in the low 40k's doing cranky12/28/09
Why were you not prepared to touch those files. Was it becau yankees4life12/28/09
Funny you mention this because while i was getting a haircut PhilipDru12/28/09
I heard a informercial for one of these deals driving home i jeremiahwright12/28/09
^ correct, from what i observed as i was making my way out t JJPisdead12/28/09
I have a friend from LS who got hired by a firm who had this kansas12/28/09
I know this thread is pushing a year old - but my uncle rece Bittersweet12/06/10
I've always got a shady vibe from them on one hand, but on t therewillbeblood12/06/10
From the customer perspective, my take on these plans is tha onehell12/06/10
The one guy I know who did this kind of work is a complete t countryfried12/06/10
"his practice closed and he is a public defender now." Ta onehell12/06/10
FYI, many companies are starting to offer employees this sor flunkygone2heaven12/07/10
I see a lot of paystubbs doing bankruptcy, and I do see a lo Motionsickalchy12/07/10
It doesn't cover anything really except advice and the occas onehell12/07/10
I wouldn't expect anything else. Every industry has a commo flunkygone2heaven12/07/10
These are flat-out MLM's and should be avoided at all costs. sololit12/07/10
Their stock has done pretty well over the last year http: log512/07/10
It most certainly has! I bought in April of 2009. flunkygone2heaven12/07/10
Has this industry changed at all since the OP was started al cantimaginenocountry02/25/18
Several attorney patsies in my state were suspended for part khazaddum02/26/18
Looking at the debtcleanse website, this appears to be basic onehell02/26/18
So attorneys that participate get paid $3 per month per memb caj11102/26/18
Yeah, and the money that pays those attorneys comes from the onehell02/26/18
An attorney here started one of those debt resolution compan fettywap02/26/18
My old legal aid had a grant like that. One of the condition onehell02/26/18
The difference is he is a business owner who incidentally a khazaddum02/26/18
The company Prepaid Legal is crap. You just get a referral t fettywap02/25/18

paddicakes (Dec 27, 2009 - 7:48 pm)

I met someone who, if their story is true, practice a type of law significantly worse than no-fault or landlord tenant. They say that they work at a firm that acts as a call center for a company called Prepaid Legal. It refers to itself as a "provider firm" and the attorneys there field phone calls all day every day for "clients" who purchased a legal insurance plan that entitles them to unlimited consultations with an attorney. Apparently, they create the facade of a corporate environment but provide none of the perks and/or benefits that would normally exist in such an environment. Also, the hours and pay supposedly suck. Has anyone had any experience with something like this or is this person full of it? I can't believe something like this really exists.

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cranky (Dec 27, 2009 - 11:53 pm)

Yeah, it really exists, although depending on the firm, the hours may not suck. The attorneys just deal with the lower echelon of society and crazy wack-jobs who were gullible and full of problems to the point where they would actually sign up with Prepaid Legal.

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JJPisdead (Dec 28, 2009 - 8:37 am)

i worked at a firm that did general ID work for a few months, and not long before i left, the owner of the firm (who was almost never in the office) signed the firm up for one of these bullshit "insurance" plans. we got a few cases from crackpots who had bought legal "insurance," and the prepaid legal outfit paid absurd rates, like $200 for discovery (as in, the whole discovery process), $50 for a court hearing, $100 for each day of trial, etc. i dont remember the exact rates, but they really were shockingly absurd. the owner of the firm, IIRC, came up with the idea to just bill the clients directly for the difference between what the prepaid outfit paid and what our rates were. i immediately said i wasnt touching a single one of those files.

based on the above, i would imagine the attorneys who work directly for those shithouses are miserable and want to killself on the regular.

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cranky (Dec 28, 2009 - 3:40 pm)

You are correct, but for many, making in the low 40k's doing that stuff all day is still better than having no job at all, and it is more substantive than doc review.

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yankees4life (Dec 28, 2009 - 10:54 pm)

Why were you not prepared to touch those files. Was it because of some ethical violation? Many business lure customers in with bait and switch tactics (price is X, turns out price is Y) and I have no qualms engaging in that behavior myself.

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PhilipDru (Dec 28, 2009 - 3:38 pm)

Funny you mention this because while i was getting a haircut this weekend, one of the other customers in the barber shop was trying to sell this pre-paid legal stuff.

He even took out a CD and showed us an infomercial about all the awesome benefits of securing pre-paid legal services. Even after viewing the infomercial for about 10 minutes nobody knew what the misguided gentleman was trying to sell. He then explained to us that it's sort of like insurance in that who ever signs up is billed $33.95 a month and never has to worry about a lawyer again! Upon further questioning, it turns out there are many circumstances that aren't cover (criminal matters, contracts). Needless to say nobody was interested in this crap.

Oh the funniest part is that once a member, you receive kind of like an insurance card and it has the name of your primary attorney. LOL!!!

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jeremiahwright (Dec 28, 2009 - 4:35 pm)

I heard a informercial for one of these deals driving home in the middle of the night one time, somebody out of Oklahoma with a hillbilly accent was talking about the advantages of having one of these plans, and for $33.95 a month you would have a real life attorney on "retainer" he said just like the big corporations you would be "going up against in court". If I was a state attorney general this shit wouldn't be peddled in my state. I don't think the "provider firm" makes any money on these deals, they just get these people in and represent them for free but they have instant access to any slip and falls, injuries from traffic accidents or drunk driving infractions their "clients" from the prepaid plan might have. I can't imagine you would get any experience out of these jobs, just talk to a bunch of fuckwads all day who think for $33.95 a month they could call every day and shit all over you.

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JJPisdead (Dec 28, 2009 - 4:58 pm)

^ correct, from what i observed as i was making my way out the door at the shithouse firm mentioned above.

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kansas (Dec 28, 2009 - 11:01 pm)

I have a friend from LS who got hired by a firm who had this practice in 2000. In 2005 I ran into him on the one doc review gig I ever did. He was profoundly bitter and angry about the whole thing, felt like a trafficked whore basically. They paid him minimally, he felt he gained no knowledge, and was suicidal.

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Bittersweet (Dec 6, 2010 - 12:22 pm)

I know this thread is pushing a year old - but my uncle recently got involved with them and is selling the policies. He wanted my opinion. I don't know anything about them, other than what he told me (which sounded very nice, but the info was from a sales presentation, so one would hope so).

Does anyone else have some info they on them that they are willing to share?

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therewillbeblood (Dec 6, 2010 - 12:27 pm)

I've always got a shady vibe from them on one hand, but on the other hand, I know someone who actually used them very successfully. They basically act as a middle man and farm out work to small law firm; the idea is you basically get some initial service at very low cost and then you can go on to start paying more to the local firm. How useful it is to the buyer seems to come down to how much the law firm is willing to use those initial services as a loss leader.

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onehell (Dec 6, 2010 - 12:32 pm)

From the customer perspective, my take on these plans is that they could be good, IF you truly understand what you're getting, which is actually not unlike having your very own general counsel: An Attorney you can turn to for ADVICE whenever you need it. GCs don't litigate, they farm that out at additional expense. You don't litigate under this plan either. So having a "lawyer like the corporations do" is actually more accurate marketing than most realize. No corporation thinks that, merely by paying a salary for its GC, that it will have all its litigation needs taken care of. Same thing here, on a much, MUCH smaller scale.

The best use of the plan is to use it to be able to call up and say "hey, is this thing I'm considering doing a good idea?" In other words, a preventive, advice-based approach. It is NOT (generally) for actual litigation because it simply doesn't pay enough. Indeed, in the fine print it usually contains a warning that all it gets you for ongoing litigation is "discounted" rates but you will still have a bill to the provider firm. The problem is that very few people, especially the people who sell these policies, understand the value of legal advice (as opposed to representation) or know how to sell it.

This is because most people understand lawyers only as people who bang on tables in court rooms on your behalf. These policies would be a good thing if they were sold honestly and responsibly. Problem is, they're not. And it's easy to understand why: They wouldn't have enough customers. Who would pay $30 a month to be able to consult with a lawyer whenever needed? Most people are only in need of legal advice what, maybe once or twice a year? A consult can be had for a hundred bucks on an a la carte basis so why not just fork that over when needed rather than paying 30 a month (360 a year), year-in, year-out? For those who will take advantage of the consults (without expecting more) on a frequent basis, a plan like this is a good idea. For anyone else, not so much.

From the lawyer's perspective, well, it isn't corporate law sure, but it's certainly more substantive than doc review. It involves a lot of client contact and a diversity of issues, and could represent experience for starting a small law firm, working for legal aid, or any other legal practice in which you represent individuals as opposed to companies.

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countryfried (Dec 6, 2010 - 12:58 pm)

The one guy I know who did this kind of work is a complete tard. His practice closed and he is a public defender now.

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onehell (Dec 6, 2010 - 1:09 pm)

"his practice closed and he is a public defender now."

Tard or not, I'll bet his experience as a PPL provider is helpful as a PD, which btw is a damn good job. What with the high amount of client contact and high case volume he would have gotten from PPL, I bet he spun it well in an interview. Again, it sure beats doc review.

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flunkygone2heaven (Dec 7, 2010 - 9:57 am)

FYI, many companies are starting to offer employees this sort of service as part of a benefits package.

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Motionsickalchy (Dec 7, 2010 - 10:10 am)

I see a lot of paystubbs doing bankruptcy, and I do see a lot of them with a deduction for "legal insurance." I guess it doesn't cover bankruptcy.

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onehell (Dec 7, 2010 - 10:23 am)

It doesn't cover anything really except advice and the occasional demand letter or drafting of a will. It's a legal advice plan - nothing more, nothing less.

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flunkygone2heaven (Dec 7, 2010 - 7:36 pm)

I wouldn't expect anything else. Every industry has a commoditized portion and a non-commoditized potion. It so happens that the former is predictable while the latter will always have non-linear input and output variables associated with it. Law is no different... it's just 50 years late to the party.

In a rational world, run-of-the-mill legal work SHOULD follow this economic model while anything destined for the casebooks can follow the traditional economic model.

As a non-lawyer, I can't help but see this as a good thing.

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sololit (Dec 7, 2010 - 10:32 am)

These are flat-out MLM's and should be avoided at all costs. These are particularly bad, though, because they add to the woes of those caught up in them all of the liabilities that come with providing legal advice. Way worse than the typical MLM a/k/a pyramid scheme.

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log5 (Dec 7, 2010 - 10:34 am)

Their stock has done pretty well over the last year

http://www.prepaidlegal.com/

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flunkygone2heaven (Dec 7, 2010 - 7:38 pm)

It most certainly has! I bought in April of 2009.

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cantimaginenocountry (Feb 25, 2018 - 2:07 pm)

Has this industry changed at all since the OP was started almost a decade go? Look at the new add:

Legal plan seeks NY-licensed attorneys to help consumers and small businesses settle their unaffordable debts at discounts (or not pay them at all).

Debt Cleanse Group Legal Services LLC is a legal plan which will launch nationwide in June 2018. We are in process of filing the plan with NY's Appellate Division and need to identify participating attorneys now.

The legal plan is modeled after Legal Shield (previously PrePaid Legal), but focused on resolving unaffordable debts and without the multi-level marketing component. Members will pay $29.99 monthly to have access the attorney network as well as self-help tools on the technology platform. Attorneys agree to provide members with one complimentary phone consultation per debt and 25% off their normal fees if retained for representation by members.

Attorneys will receive online training in Debt Cleanse strategies, which have been utilized to successfully resolve millions in unaffordable debts at pennies on the dollar. This is an alternative to bankruptcy in which debtors gain leverage by exploiting errors which creditors make.

Attorneys receive $3 monthly per member assigned to them as well as a source of prospective clients. If retained, members pay 25% off the selected attorney's regular rates.

This is an independent contractor relationship and selected attorneys can work as part of a firm, solo office, or even from home or remotely.

A social justice/activist mindset is helpful, but not required.

If this is of interest, please provide resume.

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khazaddum (Feb 26, 2018 - 12:51 am)

Several attorney patsies in my state were suspended for participating in this stuff. Their “clients” had no idea who they were, they had 1000s of open matters at a time, and in the two published ethics opinions they had over 150 motions a year in court where the lawyer had no idea a motion was pending and no idea if the client would pay them to oppose summary judgment even if the lawyer did know.

Avoid these. Another thing to avoid is “appearance attorney” gigs. Judges will chew you to bits for showing up as the cover for the law firm that the client actually hired.

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onehell (Feb 26, 2018 - 12:49 pm)

Looking at the debtcleanse website, this appears to be basically the same as a strategy which has been marketed as "debt consolidation" for eons. Basically, you send periodic payments to the debt relief company which they hold for you, less fees.

The idea is that eventually, the increasing escrow and the falling value of the note meet at a "sweet spot" and the debt-buyer settles. The problem is, this can result in debts being paid off which are past an SOL, have an FDCPA violation, would have aged off the credit report, or which would have been discharged more quickly and for less overall in a bankruptcy. The companies that do this (debt cleanse included) always absolve themselves of such responsibility by stating that they are merely providing self-help services and cannot offer legal advice.

It sounds like now, debt cleanse wants to gain the ability to provide actual legal advice. Problem is: If they pay the lawyer, then it could be an unethical fee split. If the lawyer pays them, it could be an unethical referral fee. To get around this, they try and structure it as something that looks more like insurance. But c'mon. You don't buy insurance on a house that's already burning down, but this plan would be marketed essentially exclusively to people whose legal issue is preexisting. That isn't insurance. It's either a referral service or a fee-splitting arrangement, and they will make the attorneys take on too many cases and use boilerplate (and perhaps frivolous) arguments that could ultimately worsen client positions, which is exactly the sort of compromised professional judgment that justifies non-attorneys not being allowed to have ownership interests in law firms.

In short, this isn't really a new incarnation of prepaid legal. Prepaid legal is at least somewhat like insurance, albeit insurance with very skimpy "advice only" types of coverage. This is different. This is either a referral service or an attempt to create a law firm that is not attorney-owned, either of which should fail ethical scrutiny.

In other words, the problem with PPL wasn't what it did, but rather the fact that it was sold in a misleading MLM way that led people to believe it covered more than it did. The problem with this is more fundamental, and more related to the entire business model. The problem is with the product itself, not just how it is sold.

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caj111 (Feb 26, 2018 - 1:13 pm)

So attorneys that participate get paid $3 per month per member plus 25% of their regular rates? Wow... sign me up right away...

As a side note, Jodi Ann Arias, that woman who murdered her boyfriend, sold these plans for a living (I use that term loosely, I don't think she made much money from it). Needless to say, prepaid legal services didn't cover the defense costs of her murder trial. Also, her Linkedin profile is still up, LOL https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodi-arias-8758a87/

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onehell (Feb 26, 2018 - 1:23 pm)

Yeah, and the money that pays those attorneys comes from the fees paid by the members. At best, that's insurance and should be regulated as such.

But this will be marketed exclusively to people with an existing debt problem, which means that they can't make money like an insurance company, e.g. because some people use the service more and others less or not at all. Rather, they will need to simply base the premiums on the cost of the lawyers that all the members will use, and mark it up.

Buying attorney time at a wholesale price and selling it at a retail price is the business model of a law firm, which can't be owned by non-lawyers. And this is a textbook example of why we have that rule: The only way the lawyer can make money on a 75% discount is if he has EXTREME volume, which means there will be little professional judgment or discretion associated with the individual cases, which will be reduced to a mechanized boilerplate process that will result in very poor quality of service that will often be borderline or actual malpractice. SOLs, DOFDs and FDCPA issues will be missed. Better alternatives (like bankruptcy) which would be outside the plan will be ignored, etc. The legal decisions will be dictated by corporate owners according to an assembly-line model, and any lawyer who deviates from them will be booted from the network.

But if the lawyer follows the dictated model and gets sanctioned or faces bar complaints for it? Well, then the lawyer will be on his or her own because after all, the service that sent him the case isn't a law firm. So the lawyer has given up 75% of his normal fee AND assumed all the risk associated with the model this place develops. What a great deal!

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fettywap (Feb 26, 2018 - 2:17 pm)

An attorney here started one of those debt resolution companies. He got a huge amount in government grants to run his business. Huge. He makes a killing. Always looking to hire.

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onehell (Feb 26, 2018 - 2:34 pm)

My old legal aid had a grant like that. One of the conditions was "can't be used to counsel on bankruptcy or strategic default," because so many legislators think those things are immoral.

The federal auditors, however, understood that sometimes you have an ethical obligation to inform clients when that is the best course for them. So we and the auditors agreed on a "code word" that would appear in the file where the best option was bk or when the person was completely judgment proof (e.g. on SSI). The code was "discussed options."

Needless to say, it was hard to spend the grant because most of what we did under it was "discuss options," the best option usually being one the grant can't fund. Most people simply didn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of and came with a plethora of very old, unsecured debts; there was nothing to be gained by trying to "work something out" as the grantors wanted. Indeed, such things might cause the debt to get "re-aged" thus hurting the client's credit score more than doing nothing. They were usually better off with either a discharge or, even more frequently, just waiting for stuff to fall off the credit report, SOLs to expire, etc.

That's my problem with this whole industry. People romanticize this whole "working something out/pay them what you can" type of approach because people insist on regarding the repayment of debt as a moral obligation. IMHO making money available for one model but not the other incentivizes attorneys to steer people in directions that are not necessarily in the client's best interests.

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khazaddum (Feb 26, 2018 - 4:29 pm)

The difference is he is a business owner who incidentally a lawyer. He provides a “self-help” service or “assistance.”

The cruel joke is the millionaire can put all the risk on the consumer lawyer who has an unethical fee split, a debt relief company unethically interfering in what needs to be an atty-client relationship, and the spectre of hundreds of state court hearings over hundreds of miles... all for $32 plus whatever you can shake out of a consumer that pays all of their excess income to the debt reliefs company.

Freedom Debt Relief and a few other big dogs are going down for charging unearned contingency fees up front.


Avoid these companies. They are worse than collections agencies—at least you KNOW a collector is not serving your best interest.

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fettywap (Feb 25, 2018 - 2:30 pm)

The company Prepaid Legal is crap. You just get a referral to some attorney who supposedly gives you a discount off his inflated rate. You can call an attorney on your own and get a better deal. There are others where you pay so much a month, and they will pay an attorney in full if you get a DUI or a traffic ticket or whatever.

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