When you subscribe to a pre-paid legal service, you are likely to deal with an attorney and a number of other individuals and organisations who are involved in one way or another with the service. It’s important to understand the role of each participating party in a legal service plan, particularly when you’re unhappy with the service or when fee disputes or any other litigation with your provider arises.
So, who is involved in your pre-paid legal arrangement?
You get to choose your attorney from a pool of attorneys in the network. Your lawyer is your point of contact for any phone advice or office consultation. He is the one who furnishes other legal services specified in your written agreement with your provider: he drafts your will, reviews simple contracts for you, writes letters on your behalf and makes phone calls to adverse third parties.
If you are unsatisfied with the quality of work you are getting from your current attorney in the network then you have the choice of choosing alternate attorneys. You can also make a complaint to your provider’s in-house charge of complaints.If you benefit from legal services under a group plan scheme then there are a number of parties who are involved in this scheme.
First the contracted firm, just as is the case with an individual plan, is the one which provides all the legal help through its network of attorneys. There are also two parties involved in the deal: a plan administrator and a plan sponsor.
A plan sponsor is the organisation you are member of, which sponsors your legal plan. Your sponsor can either choose to provide the legal services as a fringe-benefit, as is the case with most employers, pre-charge for the service - universities usually charge for any legal service as part of tuition fees – or charge low-costs, as do trade unions under a group-bargaining scheme.
Your plan administrator is the person appointed by your sponsor to arrange for the panel of lawyers from the contracted firm to provide services, collects all the fees paid into a pre-paid plan, publicizes the plan and handles enrolment and marketing. The administrator may be a an employee of the sponsor, an insurance company or an outside firm.
Authorities that regulate pre-paid plans provide you with an outline of how pre-paid legal services are managed and also an outlet in case there are any complaints. Individual pre-paid legal plans are generally regulated by your state department of consumer affairs. If you are an employee participating in a group plan funded by your employer, then the legal services are covered and regulated under the deferral Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).