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Prepaid Legal Service Plans

More and more, prepaid legal service plans are offered to help consumers access legal services at a reduced cost. These plans are often described as a form of insurance because a monthly premium is typically paid in exchange for the right to receive some forms of legal services free and others at a reduced fee.

Prepaid legal services are typically offered as one of four types of plans. First, many employers now offer prepaid legal services as an optional part of their benefits packages. In these plans, employees pay their premiums as a deduction from their regular paychecks. Second, many credit card companies offer plans to cardholders and their families for a small monthly fee. Third, small businesses can often prepay legal services fees for business-related issues. In the final type of plan, called a legal plus plan, prepaid legal services are packaged with professional financial educations.

Most plans use panels of attorneys who have agreed to perform services for the plan to render the actual advice and services. While some plans pay the advising attorneys directly, others reimburse the consumers for fees paid to the attorneys.

Most prepaid legal plans offer a range of free services, including free initial consultations, a free initial call or letter to try to settle the matter, and free review of certain documents, such as leases and insurance policies. Other services are offered at reduced rates. These services typically include will preparation and representation in various types of proceedings, such as real estate closings, traffic proceedings, and divorce proceedings.

Additionally, these plans usually provide some form of quality control and dispute resolution. Members often are provided with the opportunity to rate and provide feedback on lawyers, and grievance procedures are typically available to help resolve any disputes that arise with attorneys.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.