How Small Businesses Can Prepare For Costly Legal Actions

If you own your own business, even a work at home business, you probably should carry some legal insurance beyond what your existing business, auto and homeowner or renter policies encompass. Your coverage on these policies may or may not cover legal services required for such situations as false arrest, libel, slander, or invasion of privacy.

The increasing complexities of the legal system trigger the escalation in the costs of lawsuits. This can be exceedingly expensive to a small business proprietor, especially if you have a home based business. You simply can’t afford to hope that you will never be mixed up in a costly legal proceeding.

Hiring an attorney to defend some claims against you or your business may destroy a small business. With money so tight these days, what small business owner can find the money to pay a minimum of $200 per hour for a lawyer who specializes in business law? Unless you are running a million dollar business, this type of assistance is far too expensive for most people.

A couple of options are available to you.

First, talk with with your insurance agent to find out what additional policies or riders you can obtain that may cover legal costs for standard legal actions arising from the usual course of business. You might be able to get an umbrella plan that will expand both the dollar limits of your current coverage as well as increase the number of situations covered. An umbrella plan can be an inexpensive answer to your legal exposure.

A second choice is a prepaid legal plan that protects you, your family, and your business. Typically, for a fixed monthly or annual price your will obtain a collection of legal services that are tailored to the requirements of a small business.

One widely used and helpful feature of a prepaid legal plan is your option to have phone conversations with your attorney. You can talk about potential issues with your attorney and obtain his or her legal advice before you do something that could produce a lawsuit. This is a positive aspect of most plans and can help you avoid lawsuits, saving you a lot of time, expense, and worry.

Many prepaid legal plans also include your attorney’s time for reviewing usual documents and contracts. Without a legal plan you might not consider having contracts reviewed. But, your attorney can suggest ways to improve the contract language and notify you of possible issues. This also can rescue you from lots of headaches.

Prepaid legal plans will also cover your attorney’s time for preparing for and conducting a trial, should a legal situation require a trial. Frequently your plan details the particular types of legal situations that are covered for trail related expenses.

Typical of any legal agreement, you need to read over any prepaid legal plan cautiously to note precisely what services are included as well as their limits. You don’t want to think you have broad coverage when your coverage is extremely limited.

Most plans also provide discounts for services not specifically made available by the plan.

You also should be concerned about the options you will be given for your attorney or law firm. After all, legal specialization and experience play a critical part in your legal status,. Scrutinize the options and ask each potential firm for references from prior clients. If you know other small business owners who have utilized a particular plan, talk about their experiences with them to see their evaluation of the law firm they are working with.

You ought to also check with your state’s Bar Association and the Better Business Bureau to find the background of the attorneys and determine if there are some complaints, including fee disputes, against the firms. Find out about such items as your potential attorney’s educational background, professional track record, and length of time practicing in his or her specialty.

Also, find out about how disputes with your legal plan provider are handled. Determine if they deal with disputes internally or submit them to an objective third party for resolution. This might have a major influence on your relationship with your plan provider.

By and large, as a small business owner, you should consider the risk of legal proceedings against you and make preparations to handle those situations. You will rest easier and perhaps avoid some pretty big expenses in the process.

Finding the Best Rates For Commercial Business Insurance

If you own a business or in management where you make decisions regarding who insures you, it probably is a good idea to go over your current policy to make sure you are getting the best rates. In order to insure your business, depending on the size, it can be quite expensive, which is why shopping around and understand what your company needs is vital.

Your policy you receive will have several parts to it and depending how large of a company your are insuring, the more parts you will have. For instance, if you manufacture products, you probably need factory insurance in order to protect your machines or other equipment from theft, fire and other types of losses.

If you are a very large company, you might look into legal insurance, what this does is cover you from any legal filings against your business, including employee legal suits. There is also a business interruption plan, this basically protects your business in the event of lost monies from circumstances outside of your control, this cover reimburses you for lost possible work that could have been done during the downtime.

Many business that have large amounts of goods transported and any time there are huge amounts of goods moving, there is the possibility of damage. This is where the goods in transit cover would make sense if you move a lot of goods. This would basically cover the actual goods in the event something happened during transit. It is an excellent portion of the plan to have especially if you are moving a lot of cargo or goods.

There are many parts to the commercial insurance and you will need to go over your business affairs and what is done on a daily basis in order to make sure you have enough cover for the many aspects of your business. Many times people have portions of the policy they will never use. For instance, if you have transit insurance to cover your goods while travelling but your business actually sells a service rather than a tangible product, you obviously do not need the transit cover. This is a prime example as to why it is so important to make sure you personally go over the policy, or you have someone knowledgeable decipher everything that is included in the plan.

Moreover, when you need commercial insurance, you should know exactly what you need or what you have that needs cover before you ever begin shopping around. Once you have all the facts of what portions you need included in your policy, you can then begin to compare plans and truly save money by doing so.

Finally, if you are not at all familiar with commercial insurance, you may need to hire someone temporarily that does so that you know you have all the pieces you need in the cover and those you do not need are tossed out. It is worth getting a consultant or someone that understands the various policy features so that you save money by comparing what you need.

Better Legal Billing: Win Win Client Options

In the old days of legal billing, lawyer’s invoices — usually a single page of elegant letterhead–contained only the phrase, “legal services rendered,” and a hefty dollar amount. No time breakdowns, no list of activities performed or equipment and supplies used–just a final, usually shocking, charge.
But client demands and the evolution of sophisticated billing software have led to more detailed invoices today. Itemized statements have triggered discussion among businesses about whether hourly billing is the best way to be charged for legal services. As the legal profession becomes more competitive and dependent on high quality customer service, lawyers need to embrace alternate billing methods.
Fixed or flat fees, contingency fees, non-refundable retainers with discounted hourly fees, blended hourly fees and variations on those themes are becoming increasingly common. But many law firms have been slow to join this trend — lawyers still perform approximately 95 percent of their corporate legal work on an hourly basis.
What does that mean for your small business? If your company is currently working with a law firm or looking for legal counsel, try requesting alternate billing options. While many law firms rarely initiate different options, they’ll negotiate when brought to the table. If you want something better than the old “bill by the hour” deal, try presenting one of these billing structures:
Project billing for routine issues
If your legal needs include large but repetitive tasks, consider a flat-fee approach, also known as project billing. If you need legal assistance on a large research project involving several repetitive tasks with a fair amount of predictability for cost estimation and time duration, request a dollar cap for predetermined services. Be sure to compare estimated costs at the equivalent hourly rate–a projected cap that far exceeds any likely bill is really no cap at all.
Once you get a project billing estimate, don’t hesitate to shop around. Making an informed decision — shopping around, comparing prices and services with other law firms — is good business sense, especially if you intend to hire a firm for a single project. If you anticipate establishing a long-term relationship, mention this as you’re negotiating a project amount — a firm may provide a better deal if it expects future work from your company.
Results-oriented options
Forget the image of personal injury attorneys taking a third of any verdict or settlement. Consider instead contingency fees — fees based on the outcome of the case and the performance of your counsel. Creative use of contingency fees can create efficiencies in even the most high-level corporate settings. If you retain a lawyer to help your company avoid litigation, couple a reduced hourly rate with a bonus for successfully lowering your litigation outlays.
You also can establish an incentive based on a percentage of money won or saved in trial. If you’re a defendant in a case where the plaintiff has a strong shot at a $1 million settlement, negotiate a flat fee if the case goes to trial, plus a bonus if the plaintiff ends up getting less than $1 million. If you’re a plaintiff and estimate your case is worth between $1 and $2 million, you might negotiate services for a flat fee plus a percentage of any settlement over $1 million.
Contingency fees turn the matter into a shared risk or shared incentive, making the law firm your business partner, not just representation. Contingency fees can work well with both flat fee and reduced hourly fee arrangements. Because a number of variations on the “pay-according-to-success” theme exist, you should ask firms for the options they’re willing to discuss.
Multi-layered tasks
If you’re shopping for a firm for substantial legal work involving a number of legal specialties, consider using blended hourly fees. Rather than each attorney billing at the usual hourly rate, the firm calculates in advance an “average” rate based on the anticipated time each attorney spends on the matter.
The value of this arrangement is twofold–it helps define responsibility in a project and it provides a fair price schedule for the client, who avoids paying a senior partner’s hourly rate for research that should be conducted by a junior associate
Legal “Insurance” Firms without in-house counsel that frequently hire legal services might consider contracting with a firm. In this legal billing option, firms and clients agree to a specific charge per month in exchange for a predetermined set of legal services. The contract fee permits the client to pick up the phone and talk to the attorney without needing to eye the clock. This approach works like a legal insurance policy. It encourages companies to contact their counsel on non-litigation, non-crisis matters, and to save money in the long run by engaging in more preventive legal action.

Just as in business, the impetus for change comes from consumer demand. The sooner businesses take the lead in securing more effectively tailored billing methods from their legal counsel, the sooner they’ll get better, more cost-effective legal assistance.

Is Pre-Paid Legal an Effective Solution For Legal Services?

Why Would Anyone Need Pre-Paid Legal?

Harland C. Stonecipher discovered a need for a different kind of insurance that would be able to handle the legalities of life. Harland was involved in a serious car accident and ran into monetary problems when the expenses from the accident began to accumulate. It was then that Harland decided that there needed to be some kind of legal insurance for those who cannot afford legal consultation and representation. Many people in the world today have been in the same position as Harland C. Stonecipher before he founded this company. This is why Pre-Paid Legal has been serving North America since 1972.

With such a useful service that has been around for 37 years, why doesn’t everyone use Pre-Paid Legal? After discussing this with a member of Pre-Paid Legal, I was told that there were a few reasons. First off, many people in society today are intimidated by lawyers. Because there is so much “jargon” in the legal industry, no one feels that they can really be sure that they understand how the legal system works. Because of this, many lawyers get the stigma that they can often change the “rules” in a legal situation whether it be right or wrong. Which is why there are many distasteful stereotypes about lawyers being dishonest and unethical. Another reason why many people are skeptical to the notion of having legal expertise available to them is because they think that it would be too expensive. Pre-Paid Legal is designed to be affordable to everyone from all walks of life. Not only is the member of Pre-Paid Legal covered, but their family is covered as well.

What Are The Benefits of having Pre Paid Legal in One’s Corner?

There are many times in life when certain issues arise in one’s lifetimes where one could use some kind of legal expertise. Pre-Paid Legal benefits include five primary legal areas of coverage: Preventive Legal Services, Motor Vehicle Legal Services, Trial Defensive Services, Rederal Tax Audit Legal Services, and any other exceptional legal service that one may need. There is also a Will Preparation Service that offers a annual updates of one’s will and testament.

Is Pre Paid Legal Really Credible?

Pre Paid Legal has a connection with over 50 independent law firms in the United States and Canada that are ready to lend their legal prowess to anyone who owns a membership. Pre Paid Legal stock is traded on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) as PPD. It is also a member of the S&P 1500 Super Comp index and the S & P Small Cap index. This is a truly revolutionary and unique service, because no one really knows when they will need a lawyer. I believe that is the product that can give one’s family a legal piece of mind.