PrePaid Legal – A Good Opportunity Or a Great Con

Prepaid Legal Services ranks as one of the most successful network marketing companies. The original company, the Sportsman’s Motor Club was founded by Harland Stonecipher in 1972. Today, as Prepaid Legal Services, they offer a variety of legal services, as well as a business opportunity to become an associate and re-sell those services.

There are some serious concerns about starting a Prepaid Legal business, and in this article we will take an unbiased look at the pros and cons of developing such a business.

Pros:

Notwithstanding the criminal side of the law, almost everyone in their lifetime has a need for some legal services. Essentially people pay monthly fees, in exchange for discounts and access to attorneys. Prepaid legal covers legal events such as letters, wills, buying a house or a car, problems with insurance companies, identity theft, and more.

PrePaid Legal started selling plans through network marketing in 1983, went public on the NASDAQ in 1984. Two years later moved to the American Stock Exchange.

Having these services at your fingertips from a company that has been around for over 50 years can be a very reassuring.

Cons: The strength of the 50 year success is also the “Achilles heel” of PrePaid Legal. They adhere to the 50’s tradition of marketing to your “warm market”. Their idea of building a 6 figure network marketing business on the backs of your friends, family, and associates should have long been retired.

PrePaid Legal also uses the old “3 foot” rule. This is where you are supposed to talk to everyone within 3 feet you about your business. Maybe this was a good methodology 50 years ago. Today this would just positions a distributor as a poor, starving salesmen, standing on a street corner, just begging for someone to listen to him.

In Conclusion:

Legal services are something that everyone uses, and to have these services available to some now is a great marketing tactic. Success in this business, however, will be directly proportional to the skill set the market has.

For a marketer who has spent the time, as any good business person should, and learned the “skills of the trade” this could be a very good opportunity.

For someone who has no marketing skills, and no ambition to learn those skills, I suggest they just use the services and don’t waste their time trying to market the product.

Compensation For Personal Injury – How to Get Free Legal Advice

Personal injury claims are big business these days. You can hardly turn on the television without an advert for someone offering to sue anyone you want for almost anything they have done. OK that’s an exaggeration but it seems that everyone is offering legal advice for free. Why is this? And if you have been the genuine and unfortunate victim of an accident or injury or any other legal altercation where someone else is at fault should you really be seeking compensation?

There are a number of moral dilemmas that face any potential claimant. Let’s take an example of medical negligence. Say you have received some poor medical treatment which left you ill and unable to work for a period of time. You instruct a lawyer to sue the hospital. The hospital has to deal with your claim, pass it onto its insurance company who try and reach a settlement and then increase the insurance premium to the hospital because it now considers it to be a bigger risk. The hospital then has less money to spend on patient care and so struggles to avoid a repeat of the problem. Is it right that you should put them in this position?

It’s easy for people who have not been affected by injury to moralise about these sorts of decisions. However, if you were the person who had been hit by a reckless car driver or injured at work by a negligent employer who did not comply with health and safety legislation or left in pain by a negligent doctor or dentist so that you are unable to work and start losing money, then what are you supposed to do? The law exists to deter people from failing to perform their contractual or legal obligations to a reasonable standard. If they fail to do so then they may be considered to have acted negligently. Unfortunately if you are left unable to work due to the fact that someone just rammed into the back of your car because they were talking on their mobile phone then the police are not going to award you a large sum in compensation. A magistrates court might award you a small token sum, but chances are, it isn’t going to pay your mortgage. Therefore the only thing you can do is to get free legal advice and pursue a claim if you have been injured or hurt by someone else.

Another way to look at it is to consider the fact that all employers and public authorities and even car drivers are covered by insurance which exists to protect any victims of the person or company covered. Therefore by claiming compensation you are normally dealing with an insurance company. This can still impact on the defendant whose insurance premiums might go up, but the chances are that this is likely to be less of an impact than their negligence has had on you both financially and mentally.

So, can you really get free legal advice? Well, the answer is yes. There are many firms keen to take on personal injury claims. The reason for this is that genuine claims have a very high success rate which means that it is relatively easy to recover compensation via legal means. The vast majority of claims will never go to court because an insurance company will simply weight up the evidence presented by the claimant and if it looks clear that their client was at fault, it will be far cheaper to settle before reaching court. Most free legal advice solicitors will also insist that the insurance company covers their legal costs, i.e. their fee. Some will also offer a no win no fee agreement whereby you are required to take out an insurance policy against losing the case. if you do so, the policy covers your costs. However, if you win, then everyone is happy.

So, in summary, if you have been injured but to someone elses negligence or carelessness, subjected to an industrial disease or left incapacitated by medical negligence then the only person who can recover any sort of justice for you is yourself. Nobody is going to knock on your door offering you financial help for your mortgage and kids clothing. You have to make the move. What you must do when you contact a lawyer offering free legal advice is ensure that you understand completely how the money side of things is going to work. In other words, ensure that if your case is unsuccessful you are not out of pocket. It is really up to the solicitor to make sure that your claim doesn’t go ahead unless you have a pretty good chance of success.

At the end of the day, if you are given compensation either by a judge or by an out of court settlement then this is vindication of your actions. You have been found to have been wronged and the compensation is there to put it right. That’s justice so don’t be put off pursuing it. Just make sure that your claim is genuine and that you have evidence to support it. If you are ever the victim of an accident or injury where you suspect someone else is to blame, always seek medical treatment immediately because that will later form evidence to support your version of events. I.e. the medical notes will record when you came in and what for and this can be critical when claiming damages later.

I hope you never have to seek compensation for personal injury but if you do, there are plenty of lawyers who really will give you legal advice for free and who will take on your case for no upfront cost to you, either claiming their fee from the other side, or taking a slice of your payout. Just make sure you understand the terms and conditions before you sign up and if you are not happy with the deal your free lawyer is offering you, go elsewhere because there is a lot of competition in this area.

Keeping Your Legal Resume Fresh

Legal resumes have a short shelf life. They are like dairy products; you need to check their expiration date often. When does a legal resume expire? When the date of your last position is a calendar year behind the times. In other words, if your last position ended in November 2009, and you are finding yourself in calendar year 2010 without a new entry, you can consider your legal resume to be stale and in need of immediate attention.

If you were recently laid off or have been out of work for less than six months, potential employers will ask why you are out of work, but you will still be considered for positions. If you have been out of work for more than six months, with nothing new on the legal resume to show for, you will soon discover that the job search has just gotten that much harder. Inevitably, employers will go from questioning what happened with your last position, to why you are still out of work, why no one else has snatched you yet, and what you have been doing with your time.

Time is a legal resume’s worst enemy. The assumption is that there must be something wrong with you, as your stale legal resume will be unwillingly indicating. Employers have biased, and none as strong as “survival of the fittest.” This is especially true in the legal industry. Whether right or wrong, the basic assumption held by potential employers is that even under the worst possible economic conditions, companies and law firms hold on to the best-of-the-best, and only layoff those the weakest. While some employers will give newly unemployed attorneys the benefit of the doubt – perhaps there was a mistake made, and a competitor will pick up this person right away – that benefit will be short lived as soon as you pass the six-month mark. By then, the bias will become reality to some employers who will conclude that there was something wrong with you; otherwise you would have found a new job relatively quickly, even in a bad economy.

While you may not be able to fight the good fight against these biases, there are certain things you can do to your legal resume to save it from going stale. First, let’s look at what not to do to keep your legal resume current. One strategy that is often used by out-of-work attorneys is to include a reference to the part-time or contractual work they are currently doing under the umbrella of a staffing firm. While that might not be bad for an attorney that recently graduated from law school or has been out for a couple of years, this type of entry could have the opposite effect on a recently laid-off general counsel or senior level attorney. This type of work will be perceived as low-level, low-paying work, and rather than providing you with credit for being hardworking, it will make you appear desperate and lower your profile. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do to pay the bills, but your legal resume need not reflect that.

The other option that many out-of-work attorneys take is to set up their own shop, and go solo. Recruiters view solo resumes as the “kiss of death.” Companies and law firms pay recruiters a premium to recruit what is perceived to be “creme de la creme” candidates, and solo practitioners do not fit that definition for the majority of employers. The bias against solos also stems from practice focus. Most solos specialize in practice areas like criminal law, real estate closings, consumer bankruptcy, or family law that large firms and companies do not handle. While attitudes are changing and going solo is seen less as an act of desperation than as a willful act of entrepreneurialism, these biases remain rather strong and your solo experience will not help your candidacy for another type of legal job when exposed on the resume.

What is the solution to keep your legal resume from going stale? If you have some transferable business, consider cutting a deal with a law firm and taking on an of counsel position. This may mean working on an hourly basis, rather than receiving a salary, and making other kinds of compromises. However, this will allow you to hitch your star to another firm, refresh your legal resume, get back on a firm’s website, and look attractive to potential employers. If you are on assignment with a company either in a part-time or temporary basis, obtain permission from the company to use their name rather than the staffing firm’s name on your legal resume. This will work best if you are working for one company, or on long-term assignments, doing high-level work. Finally, think about volunteering with a prominent and recognizable non-profit organization, or well-known political organization. This will be especially effective if you can demonstrate legal related work with these entities. Whatever path you chose, do not let your job search completely take over your life. It is best to try and find a position that keeps you active, and most importantly keeps your legal resume fresh.