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Re: Pre-Paid Legal

Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:32 am
by GlimDropper
[The following isn't strictly speaking PPL related aside from the fact that a number of PPL people are involved, but I couldn't think of a better place for it.]

I'm usually immune to "pretty white woman and crime" media blitzes but I clicked on a YouTube link for the Jodi Arias trial out in Arizona and it opened up with a man testifying about PPL (now called Legal Shield) and got a little hooked.

Long story short (and the trial is continuing) in June of 2008 Travis Alexander, a 30 year old PPL member and motivational speaker was murdered in his bathroom shower (wiki link). His body wasn't found for five days. Attention fairly quickly was drawn to Jodi Arias, Travis's ex-girlfriend and then still sometimes lover.

He initial story was that she wasn't involved in any way which forensic evidence quickly disproved her next story is that she was there but so were two other people dressed like ninjas. By the time she took the stand in her own defense this week her story was now that she stabbed Travis 27 times, slit his throat from ear to ear and shot him in the face as an act of self defense. Miss Arias spent the last few days on the stand recounting the abuse she suffered as a child and establishing a pattern of being attracted to abusive men and tryng to paint Travis as an abuser with sexual appetites which ran quite contrary to his Mormon faith. The trial is adjourned till Monday and the prosecutions cross examination is expected not long after that.

The court has a fairly impressive video recording setup, no fewer than 3 or 4 cameras and some of the local media is streaming the feed online which is being recorded by folks on YouTube. I've never watched an actual murder trial before so perhaps there's a bit of novelty for me. One item of interest to me was an evidentiary hearing examining what the defense claims to be prosecutorial misconduct. Chris Hughes, a friend of Travis Alexander an supposedly a very powerful person in PPL may or may not have had improper contact with persons in the prosecutors office and might have been disseminating information improperly to other witnesses in the trial. That hearing has been continued to the 13th of this month.

One of the witnesses who was contacted by Chris Hughes was another muckety muck in PPL Gus Searcy. Mr. Searcy is one of those people with a certain glib, superficial charm and relentless monotonous motivation which make him a natural at MLM, in short he's the last person you'd want to talk to at a cocktail party (but you'll love this section of his cross examination at the 41:30 minute mark on this link).

The section of the evidentiary hearing that I wonder about starts at about the one hour eleven minute mark of this clip. Mr. Searcy received a phone call from Mr. Hughes while riding in a car with another person. When asked for the identity of this other person Mr. Searcy rather in artfully declines citing that person's fear of Mr. Hughes for "business and financial reasons." The scene gets kinda dramatic (at the 1:15:30 mark) with Mr. Searcy declining to provide the name even under seal and asking the Judge what would happen if he'd plead the 5th. It was sorta amusing to watch an Executive Director in PPL (now Legal Shield) explaining why he couldn't get a lawyer. What sorts of "business and financial" coercion can Legal Shield up lines exert on their lower level members?

I found the minute entry for the hearing in question and it reads in part:

Gus Searcy having been previously sworn testifies further.
LET THE RECORD REFLECT Counsel approach the bench and have discussion out of
hearing of the Court and on the record.
The Court directs the witness to provide information for a sealed exhibit.
The witness is unsure if he will provide the information.
LET THE RECORD REFLECT Counsel approach the bench and have discussion out of
hearing of the Court and on the record.
4:28 p.m. The Court room is cleared, FTR is turned off, however the Court Reporter is
The witness is addressed by the Court.
Exhibit # 13 is marked and received in evidence and will be filed under seal.

So I'm assuming that Mr. Searcy did provide the name under seal but I am left to wonder, would Mr. Searcy's PPL insurance have paid his legal fees had he declined to do so? We know Miss Arias was a PPL affiliate but she's being represented by public defenders. And of course I wonder if a kinda cute chick really did stab her ex 27 times, slit his throat from ear to ear and shoot him in the face?

Re: Pre-Paid Legal

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:29 am
by Flatulating Bovine
I personally think it is a scam. Other than perfunctory document reviews, without much in the way of advice, what good is it? Most schemes I have seen involve a "guarantee" that a lawyer will help you if you pay his or her "discounted rate" which probably is more than that lawyer ordinarily makes. It is illusory as it really isn't "insurance" and one doesn't "prepay" enough to deliver much if one really needs an attorney.

Re: Pre-Paid Legal

Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 11:44 pm
by Number Six
Well, at least you get to speak to a real live licensed lawyer for budgeted time, up to hours a month. I tried it for a while and in litigation nation you had better have legal defenses to help in time of legal trouble and lawyers can be quite expensive.

Re: Pre-Paid Legal

Posted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:02 pm
by Flatulating Bovine
Number Six wrote:We all need a lawyer once in a while--to help us with legal advice, to run contracts by, to get the street smarts and savvy lawyers are known for. I believe that this was a good idea, but from what I have read here and elsewhere, I have serious concerns. I have used the PPL system to talk to a lawyer on various issues--I think there are satisfied customers. I have not yet had a situation where they have sent out a letter or made a phone call in my behalf yet, though. Lawyers can be very intimidating, and we shouldn't just call them when our legal situation has become critical. Many years ago I had a lawyer who billed by 10 minute increments. That is a consumer-friendly deal in my opinion.

Oh noes, you had a lawyer who billed in 10 minute increments! What horrors! I've been practicing for 19 years and have never heard of a lawyer that bills in smaller increments, when billing on an hourly basis. If you are calling them about something so insignificant that you don't even need them to write a letter or make a phone call for you, I question whether you need a lawyer at all, and further question whether the service is useful.

If what you are talking about to a lawyer is that inconsequential you could probably get that advice for free, asking in passing on the way to the water cooler. The lawyer likely wouldn't even have to break his or her stride.

I have a friend who used to have this service, and even used to sell this service. He used it for contract review. After a couple of times giving him a real contract review, he now brings his contracts to me and says that "you get what you pay for."

I'm still of the opinion PPL is offering something that is almost illusory.

Re: Pre-Paid Legal

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:31 pm
by holgarf
First off...lets stop using the name "Pre-Paid Legal". It no longer exists. It is now called Legal Shield Services inc and is owned by Mid Ocean Partners. Yes this is a MLM company. However in my opinion this is how an MLM company should be run. There is a lot of crap out there that offering nothing but the chance to trade money amongst friends and family and offer the same product or services you can find at a costco at bulk. Can you go to costco and find an attorney on the shelf? Before i go on i have to let everyone know that i am member and associate with Legal Shield and i have been so since March of 2007. I was a member first before i became an associate. I didnt even know the mlm part of it in the beginning. I guess the person who sold me the membership wasn't interested in sharing the business side of it with me. I found out about that later. Since becoming a member in 2007 I have used the service 3 times for bankruptcy, realestate and identity theft issues, and continue to use the service when ever i have a legal question or need. By prepaying for the service upfront i have saved thousands in legal costs. Yes...they do not cover everything and what they don't cover they can refer you to referral law firm at 25% discount of that law firm's rate. One of my cases was in fact a refferal law firm. Still saved me more on legal costs if i had looked for an attorney on my own. I contacted 4 law firms in my area and the lowest rate i was qouted was a $2000.00 retainer and $350/hr and the highest was $5000 retainer at $470/hr. Every year that you keep your membership your court time hours double to a maximum of 335 hours. Scam? I don't think so. Ran into a guy the other day at a staples. He told me to talk to his attorney on the phone for 20 minutes cost him $70.00. That's $3.50 a minute. I can talk to my attorneys for an unlimited time on the phone and not be charged.

Re: Pre-Paid Legal

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 1:24 pm
by wserra
Two observations. Everything else I would write, someone else already has.

holgarf wrote:i am member and associate with Legal Shield and i have been so since March of 2007. [Delete what amounts to a personal testimonial.]

A vacuum cleaner salesman knocks at your door. He tells you that his device is the best thing since sliced bread. It will virtually clean your house while you sleep. It will last forever. It's incredibly cheap. Moreover, you can recruit others to sell them and retire on the "residual income" you'll get. Do you say, "Wow! Where do I sign?" If you do, you're exactly the person MLM distributors are looking for.

You want to sell stuff, don't tell me about your experiences. Even if you're St. Peter reincarnated, you have a stake in making the sale. Tell me how much the average person in my area and my line of work spends on legal services which PPL covers, how much it will cost me to get the same services from PPL, and provide proof of both points. Show me that the local firms which have signed up to be PPL providers are well qualified, and not just lawyers who couldn't get better-paying work. Give me examples of successful legal work they've done for PPL clients. Then perhaps we'll talk. Your above pitch says nothing.

what they don't cover they can refer you to referral law firm at 25% discount of that law firm's rate.

A lawyer who's been in practice 37 years - the last 28 of which as a partner in small firms - has to laugh at that. With the possible exception of the few white-shoe firms that turn away work most lawyers would love to have, every firm's hourly rates are negotiable. The only people who pay the rate the firm first quotes are those who don't know better.

I wouldn't call PPL a scam exactly, but I have never seen proof that its average user benefits.

Re: Pre-Paid Legal

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 4:25 pm
by Judge Roy Bean
My impression of PPL over the years is that you need an attorney to determine what it is they will or won't actually cover. :?

Re: Pre-Paid Legal

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:27 pm
by fortinbras
I am not familiar with this particular pre-paid legal service, but the reputation of enterprises of this sort is very low. Evidently the customers think that, at crucial moments of their lives, they will be supplied with Johnny Cochran and the Dream Team. Instead, they are almost certainly doomed to be saddled with someone like me, equipped with a form book of fairly cookie-cutter ordinary legal issues like rent leases and no-fault divorce; anything outside the range of the very limited form book is instantly catapaulted into "special" very expensive deluxe lawyering - also handled by stumblebums like me, so you can see that this is no bargain. And God help the customer who pays for the "legal insurance" and then deliberately does something provocative!

Re: Pre-Paid Legal

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:34 pm
by Kestrel
Customers speak with their feet - and their dollars.

I've known Pre-paid Legal / Legal Shield representatives. I've read the "training" materials for associates. The "training" materials are just as deceptive and impotent as those for every other MLM. I've seen the frentic and ineffectual attempts to build a viable customer base. I've seen the MLM compensation package which disproportionately rewards the associate's upline. I've seen the customers sign up in groups at a company employee benefits presentation, then drop out like flies hitting a bug-zapper as soon as the first members of the group try to use the benefits and find out they didn't get what they paid for. I've seen how Legal Shield pays its associates a full years' worth of commission up front via direct deposit, then automatically reverse-charges that same checking account, without warning, every time any customer cancels a plan.

Just like every other MLM, Legal Shield sells a low-value product for a high price and it doesn't take long for customers to figure this out. Just like every other MLM, the bulk of the price paid by the customer goes to the associates and their uplines in the form of commissions, leaving very little to cover the cost of the actual product.

And at the company I recently joined, knowing how the customers get ripped off, I've seen to it that Legal Shield will NOT be offered as part of next year's employee benefits package.

Re: Pre-Paid Legal

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:33 pm
by Number Six

"Escape Clause"

As Mr. Rubin recommended there are good non-MLM alternatives. In my experience lawyers are not necessarily the smartest people out there, they have to jump through quite a few hoops and pay ungodly amounts of money before they get anywhere near a successful, profitable operation.