In a Nutshell: Legal fees — especially unanticipated ones — can cause havoc on household budgets. LegalShield offers a network of experienced law firms that individuals can gain access to for a monthly subscription fee starting at $24.95. The company’s legal plans provide an array of legal services, from document review to trial defense. And the subscriber’s spouse and dependent children have access to similar services as well. LegalShield also provides subscription services to help business owners launch their small businesses, and offers monthly subscriptions for existing businesses.
In 1969, one car accident led to a whole new way of thinking about legal representation. Oklahoma insurance salesman Harland Stonecipher was not at fault when he was involved in the collision, yet he incurred expensive legal fees that he struggled to pay.
Stonecipher became determined to help ease others ease their financial burden if they found themselves in a similar predicament. “The idea was to try to understand how the average man or woman can get affordable access to legal services,” said Bryan Taylor, LegalShield’s Director, Product Lead – Legal Products.
In 1972, Stonecipher became the founder, chairman, and CEO of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc., and pioneered the model of maintaining a proprietary network of law firms that makes legal representation both accessible and affordable.
“That’s where LegalShield began — with an initial legal product that helps folks attain legal representation at an affordable price,” Taylor said.
Stonecipher led the company for 40 years as it expanded to help millions, and in 1999, he saw his company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Stonecipher passed away in 2014, but LegalShield remains a thriving company that is true to its mission, with more than 1.3 million members and 39 provider law firms.
Just like medical expenses, unexpected legal fees can bust tight budgets in the blink of an eye and send households into a downward financial spiral.
We spoke with Taylor about the benefits of LegalShield and how the company’s services can save consumers and businesses money. LegalShield isn’t just for unexpected legal fees though — the company covers a gamut of services, from routine paperwork to complex legal issues.
Affordable Legal Protection for Subscribers, Their Spouses, and Children
“The cost of a lawyer, on average, is a couple of hundred dollars an hour,” Taylor said. “And that’s where I get really excited about what our products offer.”
Taylor said LegalShield subscribers can gain access to the company’s array of services with plans that start at $24.95 per month. He provided an example of how that monthly fee can stack up to the hourly rate of many attorneys.
He said one of the most common legal documents people pay to have prepared is a will.
“The cost to have an attorney assist you with a will, power of attorney, and living will can be several hundred dollars,” he said. “Our monthly subscription of $24.95 comes to roughly $300 per year. In the first year, if you only complete your will, power of attorney, and living will, you can realize a significant amount of savings. And that’s just one of the many, many product features we offer.”
LegalShield subscribers can also add their spouses and dependent children to their account, so their immediate family will receive access to all the same legal services.
Taylor said clients can be assured they will be receiving access to high quality and dependable services. The law firms in the LegalShield network are closely vetted and have an average tenure of around 19 years.
“There is a set of criteria we require for a law firm to come on board,” he said. “We also have an expected service level agreement with the law firms and a system of checks to ensure the firms are abiding by the agreement.”
LegalShield maintains a team to monitor calls, time frames, and the rate at which law firms are communicating with LegalShield subscribers. The company also reaches out to members to ensure they are having quality experiences with the law firms.
“Our number one priority is that our members have an amazing experience because in some cases, they are dealing with emergency issues,” Taylor said. “And we want to make sure that we’re walking hand in hand with them.”
Services Range from Basic Doc Review to Emergency Consultation After Being Searched or Detained
“We offer consultations on an unlimited number of legal matters covered by your plan,” Taylor said. “Anytime you have a legal issue, you can contact your provider law firm under your consultation benefit. You can call them every day if you wanted to, and that would be at no additional charge to you for covered legal matters.”
And Taylor said that, although the term legal issue is used frequently, clients don’t necessarily have to be experiencing a significant legal matter to seek counsel. LegalShield’s attorneys can provide advice when clients are purchasing a home, adopting a child, getting married, or any number of other life events.
The LegalShield website highlights several main categories of service for individual subscribers, including Advice & Consultation, Document Review, and Traffic Tickets.
“A speeding ticket gets issued once every second,” according to the website. Covered moving violations which are alleged to have occurred on the effective date of the membership contract would be covered.
Other areas covered include Collections & Warranties, Family Law, and Landlord & Tenant Agreements.
For those unexpected setbacks, LegalShield also provides 24/7 emergency access to attorneys “for situations where you and your family are at the greatest risk.” These covered legal emergencies include the subscriber being detained, searched, deprived of immediate liberty, served with a warrant, or if the state attempts to take custody of your child.
LegalShield members also gain access to trial defense services.
“Get access to top-tier attorneys with an average of 19 years of experience,” according to the company website. “Get civil lawsuit coverage for you and your family if they are named defendant or respondent in a covered civil action. Accumulate up to 300 hours of trial defense with your membership.”
Taylor said that, if a LegalShield member is in need of services that fall outside of his or her plan, the legal plan can provide referral services and offer a 25% discount of the standard hourly rate of the attorney for those services.
He also emphasized, as a self-professed technology geek, that LegalShield also offers a mobile app in which subscribers have direct access to their provider law firm.
LegalShield Provides Its Monthly Subscription Services to Businesses, As Well
In addition to legal services for individuals and families, LegalShield also offers services to help small businesses.
A huge challenge of starting a new business is wading through the legalities associated with such a venture. Launch by LegalShield, which starts $145 plus state filing fees, helps clients take the guesswork out of starting a business.
“Launch by LegalShield’s attorneys work with you to get your business started with confidence,” according to the company website. “Plus when you form your business through Launch by LegalShield, you automatically gain access to the most comprehensive business legal plan.”
The onboarding process is simple.
Clients answer eight quick questions about their business, and a local LegalShield attorney will contact the new client within four business hours to discuss what is needed to launch the business and which type of entity the business should be classified as.
The attorney will also file documents on the client’s behalf.
LegalShield offers extensive plans for existing businesses as well, whether they are composed of fewer than 10 employees or up to 100. Business services include consultation on unlimited matters concerning the business — and, depending on the size of the business — 20, 30, or 40 documents reviewed per year. Collection letters, calls or letters provided by the attorney, designated consultations, and preferred member discounts are also included.
“What separates us from our competition is that with these products, you’re not just checking off boxes,” Taylor said. “We will help you launch your business and help you build your business. You have LegalShield as a partner.”
Soliciting Feedback for New Ways to Help Clients
LegalShield is always looking for ways to innovate its products, Taylor said. This includes reaching out directly to members to better understand what types of products would be valuable to them.
“We’re at the infancy stage, in my opinion,” he said. “And we’re really driving and growing our products. That’s the thing that’s the most exciting for us.”
He said LegalShield is a well-kept secret among legal service providers. And it is gaining momentum in the space and allowing technology to help drive its message while making sure its products remain affordable to all Americans.