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Law Firm Website Design Companies : The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

More workers get legal perk: a lawyer

  Offbeat News  -   POSTED: 2007/07/01 19:13

More and more American workers can say "call my lawyer" and mean it. Rich guys have several lawyers. Average guys often don't even know one. But a Society for Human Resource Management national survey, released last week showed that employers are offering more legal services insurance. Nine percent more companies offer legal services now than in 2004, and there was a six percent jump just in the last year.

Robert Heston, president of Legal Access Plans and Legal Plans USA, a national legal insurance company with headquarters in Houston, said his company has been doing this for 30 years but he's seeing a bump in business now.

"This makes people feel more protected, feel they have someone to call, even feel they can say they'll take something up to the Supreme Court," he said.

Of course, these legal plans don't cover any appellate work, much less a trip to the highest court in the land.

The plans generally work like this: An employer uses bargaining clout to get a deal on prepaid legal services and offers it on the employee benefits buffet with things like health, vision and dental insurance. Employees pay the full freight, which can range from $6 to $25 a month. When those insured have legal questions, they pick from a handful of local lawyers.

For $36 a year, one probably gets a couple of half-hour phone consults. At $300 a year, the plan may even cover an uncomplicated divorce.

These deals aren't for everyone. You may not need a lawyer for years, if ever.

But for the average Jane or Joe who has an occasional credit, will or real estate question, an aging parent with estate issues, or a trouble-attracting teen, this might work.

Heston, however, said most folks think they'll use the lawyers preventively, to write a will or get out of a lawsuit. But he said they usually don't complete the will papers and instead use the services for catastrophe — their child gets in trouble at school or goes for an illegal joy ride, their elderly parents have legal issues or they get a divorce.

There are downsides to these plans, of course.

Everything isn't covered. Some plans only give you a consult for divorces, which sometimes aren't covered for the first six months.

And some plans reimburse and don't pay the lawyers upfront.

Diana Rose-Schilling, with Baker Hughes' human resources department, said the company started offering one of Heston's plans in 2005 and has seen an increase in participation, with enrollment up 12 percent over last year.

There is one kind of legal matter none of these plans will handle — suing the boss who offered the legal insurance in the first place. These are lawyers, not idiots.


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