If you’ve never heard of LegalShield, chances are you may not have been in a legal services ‘need’ or have your own lawyer you may have been using for years. Interestingly enough, subscription services for all kinds of things are growing as a popular way to take care of needs that used to be significantly expensive for most people.
The truth is, if you don’t have your own business, own your own home or have other assets that you own (and rent or make other transactions), you likely don’t have the need for a lawyer on a regular basis.
That said, things come up all the time for everyone, from something as basic as dealing with parking or speeding tickets, knowing your rights for the space you rent for a business or community project, creating a will or dealing with a parent’s death, selling a home or a myriad of other things you could face which are much worst, like a lawsuit, a serious theft or major car accident.
LegalShield has a compelling model that can be useful for many Americans and Canadians (this is where they currently operate). In other words, if you live in Europe or elsewhere in the world, you can’t subscribe to LegalShield at the current time.
They tout that they sell legal services products, however in my experience, the kind of thing that will most likely come up is your need to access an attorney through their network for legal advice.
We were given a subscription to try out so we could see what the service is like first hand. Even though LegalShield has been around since 1972. I only just discovered their services around a year ago when I met someone who sells their services at a great festival I attend every year (think multi-level marketing in a franchise like scenario), however it doesn’t have that kind of feel to it in reality.
I had a few things I needed done (largely contracts) and legal advice, so I decided to take them up on their offer and put it to the test. Bear in mind that my experience with LegalShield is both from an average consumer with more traditional needs and as a business and communications consultant.
LegalShield in Practice
LegalShield touts their biggest value-add as “making smart legal coverage simple.” The idea is that instead of shelling out hefty fees for a few days of legal help, you paid a monthly membership and get access to a law firm for your legal advice.
Chances are that you won’t have legal needs daily unless you have an active business which requires legal services daily. Using a service like LegalShield will likely be most helpful as things crop up in your business or your daily life. Parking tickets are a great example that I see some customers cite as a way they have used a lawyer through the LegalService network. As someone who has happily managed to avoid tickets, I haven’t had a need for this kind of legal help.
That said, we were able to use the service to create a living will, which is complimentary as part of your monthly fee. So, if you don’t have a will set up or have one but it needs updating, this can be an inexpensive and efficient way to get one executed.
The LegalShield website gives a general overview of legal plan coverage for both personal use and small business use, so visiting their site is a great place to start. Bear in mind that the benefits and prices described are not available in all states and Canadian provinces so you’ll need to read specific details on terms, coverage, pricing, conditions and exclusions to make sure what you need is covered in the plan you opt for.
Essentially, LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield members and their covered family members through membership based participation. What that means is that neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice.
Personal and Small Business Plans
A Personal LegalShield Plan helps you protect yourself and those most important to you from the unpredictable and start at around $18.00 a month whereas a small business plan starts at around $40 a month. Here are a few examples of the types of things you can get help from with a personal plan.
- Landlord / Tenant: Get assistance with any legal issue involving the agreement of a landlord or tenant.
- Consumer Finance: Here, they cover tax disputes., audits, debt collection and fraud.
- Accidents: Accidents happen as do speed traps so having a plan in place can help you feel more at peace.
- Estate Planning: Death and taxes? They can handle your will and power of attorney.
- Real Estate Issues: Whether you’re buying, selling or just planning ahead, they help you through the process.
LegalShield Business Plans
They offer a variety of business plans as well.
Their website is pretty straight forward and you are guided through the process depending on what your needs and budget are at any given time. A few examples are noted below.
- General Consultation: You can talk on the phone with your Provider Law Firm about multiple matters.
- Designated Consultation: This means that you can discuss specific legal issues over the phone, from patents to taxes.
- Contract & Document Review: I found this to be the most helpful – you can talk with an attorney in your state to make sure everything is accurate and in writing for clients, employees, and more. And, to make sure nothing important is missing.
- Debt Collection Assistance: This helps you get your company set up for better protection so you can protect your company from the most common legal problem facing small businesses today.
- Letters & Phone Calls: This allows you to have your Provider Lawyer execute 20 to 40 calls or letters on your behalf, super useful for both individuals and small business owners.
- Trial Defense Support: This is about having peace of mind. While this is not included in the Small Business 10 Plan, it is included in others. The idea is to avoid going it alone because the fees are so expensive. It is limited time of course, so check with the plan to see how much is included for each level across the board.
So, How Does LegalShield Work?
To get started, first, you need to pick your region as you’ll be connected to a local law firm in your area so it’s a call to a set of attorneys who are familiar with your region or state and are on the same time zone. For example in my case, since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, they connected me with their LegalShield California law firm, which is based in the Los Angeles area.
The next step is to pick a plan for yourself, your family, or your small business. You’ll be connected with a local team of lawyers with extensive knowledge of regional laws and regulations.
After you’re signed up, you can download the app to communicate with your firm in just a few clicks. Note that I haven’t tried the app to book an appointment yet (I’ve always called their hotline) however you can do this through the mobile app if you wish.
The LegalShield app keeps you in contact with your legal team—even when you need emergency legal access.
For example, if you get a speeding ticket, you can use “Snap” to send it straight to your law firm. (see left hand diagram)
If you in turn, have a legal emergency, there’s a section in the app for emergencies as well. You simply tap the red button in your app and you can get legal advice any time from your assigned legal firm.
I love that there’s a mobile component to their services so its at your finger tips at all times. Even though I travel quite a bit, it’s nowhere close to the degree I used to travel in previous years. Because of this, I resorted to the phone for the times I’ve tested out the service in the privacy of my own home office. That said, it’s nice to know the mobile app is available, especially when you’re on the road for business travel or personal reasons.
Document and Contract Review
In my case, I needed to update some of the existing contracts I had and to create a few new ones. There are example templates where you can start for some of the most basic contracts out there. You can use those templates as a way to customize your own and then have a LegalShield attorney review it.
If you want them to create a contract from scratch, they’ll charge you for it (at a reduced fee because you’re a LegalShield member), however for most of the basic forms, you can simply modify it to fit your needs and issues and then run through it with one of the assigned attorneys in the group that specializes in that part of law.
It could be as simple as reviewing a document, writing a demand letter, or making a phone call on your behalf. If you end up with an issue that is a far cry from the ones I have listed here and you end up having to go to court —whether as a defendant or a plaintiff—you get at least 25% off your lawyer’s hourly rates, even if the issue started before you were a member.
The real benefit here is that if something arises, you know that you can tap into LegalShield with a button click or a phone call and get a lawyer to talk to without breaking the bank.