Legalshield has faced the scam claim largely for its multi-level marketing business model, but any Legal Shield review must note that its popularity negates the cry, even though some may find the system less than attractive. The service providing pre-paid legal plans to over 4 million people demonstrates a network of high penetration.
LegalShield provides legal advice and handle legal issues through its network of almost 7000 independent attorneys in both the United States and Canada.
Unfortunately, as it is a multi-level marketing setup it has also attracted some bad reviews and claims that the network is a scam. Harsh, and also untrue.
Also known as Pre-Paid Legal, LegalShield offers a business opportunity to the legalshield attorneys who market its services and provides a legal assistance deal involving payment of a monthly fee to avoid those nasty hourly lawyer bills. The concept is to provide affordable legal services.
But its unwanted attention via its payment and business structure has created some unfortunate repercussions for the business.
The Popularity Of The Low Legal Fee System
LegalShield has over 4 million members so there is no denying its legal protection plan has provided both a peace of mind factor for its members along with high revenue opportunities for its attorneys and cost savings for the clients.
For small business owners, for instance, the range of legal issues that arises can be daunting and obtaining legal help expensive.
With lawyers charging from $100 to $1000 an hour, obtaining good legal advice can obviously be expensive. There are certainly some options available for those seeking legal help, such as the local small business association, which often offer members the ability to access questions about setting up a small business as wold a better business bureau.
Similarly the local Chamber of Commerce can be useful when seeking legal representation or legal help (although membership will be required).
Other government agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission and IRS can assist. Similarly there are also online law libraries that can help provide legal assistance and resources.
There are a range of legal ‘communities’ that may also offer legal help in a Q&A manner for various legal issues, document reviews. These include organizations like the following –
For some, however, a better alternative is the pre-paid legal services offering such as that provided by LegalZoom and LegalShield.
The LegalShield Services
The concept of cheap legal services is not new, but LegalShield have taken it to another level with their marketing and the range of services, which include everything from identity theft (a major selling point for them) to trial defense, immigration, consumer and credit issues, real estate, divorce, driving offences, car accident and more.
LegalShield have an updated mobile app that provides highly visible access to its services and to permit users to connect to the appropriate lawyer to handle their legal issue and any other legal matters.
The legalshield app is a well designed tool helping to break down the access to justice for those seeking urgent legal assistance.
Further, the range of legal assistance provided by provider lawyers is significant and growing. From identity thieves to gender identifier and bullying issues, the legal assistance certainly covers a range of topical ‘issues’ that legalshield’s lawyers provide to members.
However users need to be aware of the LegalShield limitations with the different plans available.
There are limits on the amount of time your lawyer will spend on your efforts, which requires a careful examination of the ‘deal’. For instance, a general phone consultation, the lawyer will devote up to one hour of legal work but after that your back to ‘legal rates’, less a 25 per cent discount.
A document review is limited to 15 pages with up to six documents in one month periods, beyond which requires the standard rates less the legalshield discount.
The LegalShield costs breaks down into different options which include a personal or family plan at 424.95 a month, a small business plan ($39 a month and upwards), Commercial plan ($12.95 a month) and an identity theft plan at the same as the commercial plan.
The cost for a LegalShield membership is broken down into four options, Personal/Family Plans start at $24.95 a month, Small Business Plan start at $39.00 a month, Commercial Driver Plan start at $12.95 a month, and Identity Theft Plan at $12.95 a month.
Personal/Family Plans- LegalShield offers unlimited legal advice, trial defense services, coverage for your family, and 24/7 Emergency Assistance for $24.95 per month.
The LegalShield Business Model – Therein Lies Issues
Because LegalShield is set up as a multi-level marketing company it creates high income opportunities for attorneys, but it has also served to frighten many from using the system.
The problem with the MLM offer is that the attorneys are themselves selling the LegalShield brand with friends signing on to create the pyramid money model.
But multi-level marketing does not equate to a ‘scam’ call. It may have certain connotations, often legitimate, but an organization of LegalShield’s size and focus on providing client service negates any suggestion that it is based purely on a money-making business model designed to enrich the service providers, rather than support legal clients.
LegalShield vs LegalZoom
LegalShield is similar to LegalZoom, although the latter does not have a monthly membership deal that would lock you in. LegalZoom also offer some pricing advantages for small businesses that want greater flexibility when it comes to handling their work.
LegalShield Business Deals
LegalShield provides some additional savings on different services. For instance, it has recently announced a deal with small business marketplace Newity to provide access to SBA loans and service providers. Newity’s own 115,000 small business owners also have access to the LegalShield attorneys.
In addition to that there are other benefits, but the key factor should be a focus on the actual legal services you’re seeking.
The consumer ratings are moderate for the service. For instance Consumer Reviews (a non-government organization) shows only one and a half stars on its reviews but others have given complimentary reviews for the service.
The Downside Issues to LegalShield
One of the common issues that appears to arise with LegalShield’s service, apart from the multi-level marketing issue, is that it can be difficult to suspend or contact the business when it comes to removing the monthly subscription.
There is no free trial, nor is there a testing period to see if the plan selected is appropriate. It can also be difficult determining whether the legal services will be available as required.
For those who seek regular legal consultations, Legal Shield membership can be a very good option. However the caveat there would be that if you are dealing with a specific legal service requirement then it is often better to undertake your own research for a specialist attorney who can handle the work, even at a discounted rate for regular work, thereby ensuring both expertise and cost benefits.
Often, obtaining the lowest rate lawyer service when handling legal issues, for personal legal services or for business owners, can create issues that you may not want to handle. There remains the ‘getting what you pay for’ element to services like this.
So Are Pre-Paid Legal Services Worth It?
The questions of whether LegalShield is a scam is easily answered. It’s multi-level marketing creates the ogre of the pyramid scheme, but LegalShield is much more than simply a marketing plan. The real question is whether pre-paid legal services are worth the investment. That is a more difficult question to answer.
Put simply, the ‘insurance’ of having a pre-paid legal scheme is one that may not ultimately save you a lot of money. Many are offered by credit unions, labour unions, credit card company schemes and the like, apart from people like LegalShield. By shopping around you may wind up paying as much or even less than using a pre-paid scheme. The best idea for those using such services is to do a little legal work yourself and think hard about what services you will require.
Most schemes, like LegalZoom or LegalShield will provide specific areas of law to be covered by their services and you need to know how often you will need them and identify exactly what your legal needs are.
Similarly, if you are preparing a will or entering bankruptcy you will (hopefully) not be repeating the exercise often. It may be less expensive to actually obtain a quote from a local lawyer or a local legal services provider who can assist at a low cost, or even free of charge.