Legal Plan: Does Your Family Need Legal Protection?

We all know that America is home to the most litigious society on the planet. A woman spills a cup of coffee on herself and sues the restaurant claiming it was too hot. Or how about the Judge that sued the cleaners for $54 million for losing a suit. If that’s not crazy enough, how about the concert goer, who several years after the incident, sued the rock star for falling on her and injuring her with his buttocks. You can Google “outrageous law suits” and get over 3 million results that include stories even more ludicrous than these. When you consider that there are 3 lawsuits filed in America every second, is it any wonder why legal plans are becoming a big part of the financial and security protection for families and small businesses? Remember, sixty years ago it was uncommon to own a health plan. Today it is uncommon not to have one. And today, many European countries have as much as an 80% participation rate with legal plans. But in America, and Canada for that matter, less than 10% of people have a legal plan.

So a law suit is one thing, but what about the everyday common things that can cause our veins to pop out of our heads. Here’s one:

A father pays for his daughter’s wedding reception to be held at very nice ball room. A few hours into the event, the plumbing goes out. He calls the event manager to request emergency services, and they arrive with a port-a-potty. After the event, when he calls to register a complaint, they offer a small refund of about $100, about ten percent, arguing that the event was almost over anyway. They haggle back and forth, and the owner basically says take it or leave it. The father calls his legal plan provider law firm for assistance. After the law firm writes a letter on his behalf to the business owner, the father receives a refund in the mail for over half of the cost.

Here’s another:

While a neighbor is walking his rottweiler dog, he lets it loose to run and it attacks and kills another a chihuahua dog that was in its own yard. The neighbor quickly retrieves his dog and disappears. When the police are called, they basically tell the dead dog’s owners that there really isn’t much they can do, and that maybe they should call the county animal control. The deceased dog’s owner makes a call to the legal plan provider attorney, and is advised to request that the police take a report and to have the incident on record, and then call animal control with that report number to have them investigate. Subsequently, when animal control does investigate, they find that the attacking dog is not registered, takes it into custody, fines the owner and requires that they register their dog to get it back. Also, a the legal plan law firm writes a letter to the owner demanding a monetary amount for full restoration of the dead dog. The attacking dog’s owner complies.

Having a legal plan to address the small legal issues like these can be quite beneficial to families, especially for the relatively small cost that they charge. Most charge a monthly fee, with the average daily cost being less than the price of a cup of coffee at the local convenience store.

Most legal plan companies will generally provide you with the basics, like phone consultation, letters and phone calls on your behalf, contract and document review, and a general will. And some of the legal plan companies provide more extensive plans that will cover you, at no extra cost, for representation for things like motor vehicle moving violations, IRS Audits, and trial defense services. And even a few provide Identity Theft Protection.

Having legal representation in court for vehicle moving violations – lets call it what it is, speeding – can really be valuable when it comes to car insurance premiums. As it was described to me years ago, “It’s the points, dummy.”. For we all know that for every point on your driving record, or your teenager’s driving record for that matter, your insurance premium will go up – if they don’t drop you altogether. If you can find a plan that offers this coverage – and there are some out there – it could be a huge plus for you pockets.

I won’t even go into depth about dealing with an IRS audit. Plain and simple, when Uncle Sam comes calling, you better answer with a tax attorney.

And as you already read earlier, law suits are getting crazier by the day. And more are being filed than ever before.

So, in summary, when you know that the odds are greater that one will be in court than in the hospital in the next year, the question isn’t “Does your family need legal protection?”, the question is “Can your family afford not to have a legal plan?” After all, with these odds, it goes to say that it’s not if you are going to need an attorney, but quite frankly, when you are going to need one.

A New Lawyer’s Best Friend – Pre Drafted Legal Forms

A newly admitted lawyer to the Massachusetts Bar, has several options upon receiving his or her license to practice law. They can apply for an associate position with a big firm, and conduct research for the next five years; they can apply to work in a small firm and do all the work the senior lawyers do not want to deal with; they can hang their own shingle. This article will take the perspective of the later, i.e., a recent law school graduate with an entrepreneurial spirit, a little cash on hand, and a desire to start his or her own practice.

Forget about the fact that marketing and obtaining clients is going to be the most difficult aspect of the new venture. Forget that the new attorney must choose an area of practice, for even a general practitioner can’t work in every field of law. Once the client walks in the door and the attorney wants to accept the case, the flood-gates of paperwork will open.

The first document a new lawyer must draft is a fee agreement. There are several internet sites out there that have these types of legal contract, as well as other legal forms, but those legal documents are very general in nature and likely do not satisfy the Massachusetts General Laws. However, a quick look in any Lawyer’s weekly will show a host of legal software companies who have created word documents drafted specifically for Massachusetts, or what ever state your practice requires.

Next is the whole process of filing a complaint or answer if a law suit is involved, drafting HUD statements if real estate is the issue at hand and so forth. One new Massachusetts Probate Attorney, recently said, “I didn’t know where to start before I had the direction of my document generation software and my online research tools”. She went on to state that, “but for the form generating software, I would have had to consult for hours the Massachusetts Practice Series and other form books”.

Once a case has been filed, the real onslaught of paper work and forms hits the fan – DISCOVERY. There are interrogatories, request for production of documents, requests for medical records, requests for police reports, subpoenas’ for depositions, etc. There are motions for summery judgment, motions to compel, and so many more. A new lawyer who has never drafted these documents has virtually no where to turn, but to the form books for hours and hours of unbillable research time.

The biggest problem for new lawyers is they did not learn how to try cases in law school. Rather, they are more equipped to argue an appeal in front the The United States Supreme Court then they are to handle a simple will contest, or personal injury matter. The bottom line is, in order for a new attorney to be efficient, they can either purchase one of these up to date, form generating software packages, be lucky enough to have a mentor, or put their dreams and aspirations on hold for two or three years, while working for a small practice. In the case of the young probate attorney, she decided to purchase the software, and was lucky to have one of the premier real estate and probate attorneys in the state as a mentor. However, not all new lawyers are so lucky, and if you are going to spend 30 hours a week researching what forms are needed to follow procedure, you will be hard pressed to find time to actually represent your clients, let alone conduct legal work that can be justified as billable hours.

The gist of all of this is that it would be highly advisable to look into the technology that is available today if you are a new lawyer, and in fact, even if you are an experienced lawyer, this technology allows you to stay current with any changes in the law and procedure for state courts in your document library.

LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing) and Document Review

Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) is an industry that has been growing rapidly in the recent year and involves outsourcing of legal works by the legal communities of the developed countries like the US to lower wage developing countries like India.

LPO usually involves processes like Legal Research, Document Drafting, legal contracts, agreements, client letters, patent applications and various other Intellectual Property research and Paralegal Services.

LPO is increasingly being preferred these days because it has become a time consuming and expensive process, mainly triggered by data explosion, technological evolution, and the sudden increase in electronic stored information. One cannot also deny the fact that US practices lack consistent teams to perform document review work.

Document review in the context of litigation is done in two levels. The first level of document review is the discovery phase and first part in any litigation. This process is performed after receiving the legal “request for production of documents”. During this process the objective is to reduce the document set into a workable and responsive data set. Even though the e-discovery best practices have reduced a data set by almost 70% there still may remain millions of documents to be reviewed. This is because the total quantity of documents has multiplied several times over the years. In the second level these workable documents are reviewed more seriously by seniors.

As legal document review forms the major part of litigation expenses today law firms are trying out all methods to reduce the cost of litigation and outsourcing of e-discovery is a viable solution. During the document review process quite often millions of documents have to be searched and identified for

  • Case relevance
  • Confidentiality
  • Privileged /protection
  • “key or “hot” status

Besides in litigation, document review is also performed in matters of regulatory compliance and corporate due diligence.

The India based LPO services are a great boon in this regard because, attorneys in India doing the work come from the best law schools with a good understanding of the US legal system. They also use the best e-discovery technology, tools and processes and implement the highest level of security.