Limitations of Pre-Paid Legal Services

Pre-paid legal plans are promoted under the promise of cheap legal
coverage, an attractive alternative to the high fees charged by regular
attorneys and law practices. But under the gloss of accessible legal
services for the general public, lie a number of limitations.

First, there is a limit on the scope of the legal services provided. Most
of what is provided on an unlimited-basis is phone based: calls to your
attorney for advice and consultation on legal matters, or phone calls made
on your behalf to third parties. Other benefits bundled in the plan are
limited: regular visits to your attorney’s office is restricted to a dozen
or so hours per month, the wills you want drafted or sample contracts
reviewed will be carried out on two or three copies per year. More complex
legal matters involving more time and effort on the part of your attorney
are not provided outright. If you need representation in a court for a
lawsuit on the recovery of damages, or a complex lease contract reviewed
and approved, then you have to pay regular lawyer fees. Some discounts of
up to 25% apply, but you could get the same discounts if not better by
the simple virtue of simple negotiations and clever comparison shopping.

Second is the restriction on your choice of attorney and the quality of
legal work provided. Although you are free to choose your own attorney,
client-lawyer relationship and the building of rapport are harder to come
by in this scheme.
Pre-paid legal plans are fraught with the “rookie” syndrome: the providers
usually resort to employing newly-licensed or trainee attorneys in a
cost-cutting exercise. Someone who does mostly wills, trusts and sample
contracts is probably not a good fit for a more complex legal issue like
the custody of children. In this day of age of increasing specialisation,
it is better to ask someone with specialised knowledge and years of
experience then it is to rely on a novice with a limited professional
If you go down the traditional way, then there is restricted “pool of
attorneys” you can choose from. Your research will be easier and a lot
more comprehensive. You can set up interviews with lawyers, ask for
referrals from friends, previous customers or check your local bar
association. You are more likely to get a top-notch lawyer with who to
build rapport get competent advice and trust the judgement.

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