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Prepaid Legal Services

Have an attorney at your disposal--and save on legal expenses--with prepaid legal services.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Tired of skyrocketing legal fees? You do have anotheroption--prepaid legal plans.

Prepaid legal plans have been compared to HMOs because theyoffer certain basic services for a monthly fee. Prices range fromas little as $10 a month to $70 or more; in return, an entrepreneurgets a package of services such as, say, unlimited phoneconsultation with a lawyer, review of three contracts per month, upto 10 debt collections per month and discounts on other legalservices.

Typically, prepaid legal services contract with one law firm ineach state to handle routine matters. Because the service isusually that firm's biggest client, small-business owners usingthe service receive a warmer welcome than they might at a big lawfirm. Specialists are usually available at reduced rates.

When considering a prepaid legal service, here are some factorsto consider:

  • What is included? Check the plan to make sure they've gotwhat you need. The number of services offered at a reduced rate maybe limited; what do they charge for other services?
  • Consider whether you'd prefer to build a relationship withone attorney rather than talk to a different lawyer every time youcall.
  • Ask other entrepreneurs who have used such services about thequality of work. Also ask how the company handles conflicts ofinterest in case you have a dispute against a business that usesthe same prepaid firm.

With these caveats in mind, a prepaid legal service firm couldbe just what a business on a budget needs. For more information,contact the American Prepaid Legal Services Institute.

This article is excerpted from Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up BookYou'll Ever Needby Rieva Lesonsky and the Staff ofEntrepreneur magazine

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