Pre-paid legal services

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Pre-paid legal services are individual or group legal plans in which members pay a monthly fee in exchange for access to a range of legal services on-call. Pre-paid legal plans are sometimes considered a form of insurance along the lines of auto insurance or health insurance but most pre-paid legal plans offer limited services for the monthly charge such as legal advice and consultation, review of contracts, having a lawyer write a letter on a client's behalf or the drafting of wills and other legal documents. Some legal plans also cover legal representation in court and the filing of motions but most plans would require a client to pay extra for such services or cover a limited number of hours in court time.

The pre-paid legal service industry has existed in Germany since the 1920s but is a recent phenomenon in the United States with a Ada, Oklahoma-based company now known as Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (PPLSI) (founded in 1972) was one of the first companies established solely to design, underwrite, and market legal expense plans. In recent years a number of other companies have been established and, as well, some insurance companies have begun to offer legal plans as part of their service. One such example is Hyatt Legal Services, which is a division of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

While PPLSI markets its services via Independent Associates, most "legal-care" companies offer their services through insurance agents (as part of their portfolio of services), through salaried staff or through independent agents working on commission.

Associates are recruited and pay a one-time sign-up fee, good for life, ranging from $49 to $249.

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