The Law Office of Kenneth Vercammen was selected to serve as the New Jersey Access Attorney for one of the major national legal service plans. We handle legal services for the following legal plans and their major employers:
Hyatt- AT&T, Delco retired (Includes Free Wills)
ARAG- AT&T management, PSE&G, Lucent management, A&P, Kraft,
Microsoft, National Telephone, Newsweek, Oracle, Proctor & Gamble,
Solomon Brothers, Thompson, Un. Bank of Switzerland (Includes Free Wills)
Prudential- Pru employees (Includes Free Wills)
APWU- Postal Workers (Includes Free Wills)
Union Privilege- AFL-CIO
LawPhone- private pay through credit card
UAW- Ford & GM
NYSUIT, National- New York Teachers
DC 37- NY Municipal Employees
Local 1500- NY retail
Truckers Legal Plan
Caldwell Legal Plan, OHS, Coast to Coast, and numerous other legal plans
Legal plan members
Our offices now serve as cooperating/panel attorneys for twenty two national legal service plans. Please consider our office if you need to refer a case to New Jersey. We have had success in handling the needs of many other legal plans and unions. We provide a full legal service including Wills, Estates, Criminal & Traffic Court, Probate, Elder Law, DWI & Personal Injury.
Union Privilege LEGAL PLAN- PROVIDING LOW COST ADVICE TO CONSUMERS IN NEW JERSEY
By Kenneth Vercammen, Esq.
Legal service plans are an excellent method for groups to obtain low cost and free legal advice. Millions of middle and low income working Americans need an attorney when legal problems strike. Today, several hundred group legal plans provide advice to millions of Americans who are Union members and/ or members of clubs and organizations that set up a legal plan. These legal plans in New Jersey provide a free telephone consultation with an attorney, some pay the entire cost of attorney representation including trial. It is easy and almost no cost to establish a consultation legal plan for your union, your employees and even a non profit group. Your member and/or employees can obtain some free legal advice and can sometimes head-off serious legal problems by preventive law. All currently registered New Jersey legal plans provide a free consultation to members without any prepaid costs by the member, their union or employer. It is easy to set up a free legal plan for your group, union or even for your employees. Experienced legal plan attorneys are familiar with the easy, no- cost registration requirements with the State of New Jersey. Prearranged access to a lawyer permits plan members to receive legal counseling and representation before it is too late, before a driver's license is lost, before someone dies without a will. Union members and their dependents, whose unions have negotiated legal services as an employees benefit, make up the majority of those covered. However, over the past 10 years commercially marketed plans have greatly expanded the availability of prepaid legal services to credit card holders, bank depositors, credit unions and even people not affiliated with any group that want legal question insurance. A Lawyer's Guide to Prepaid Legal Services at 1 Employer financed group legal services plans, previously qualified under Internal Revenue Code Section 120 have provided millions of Americans with an attorney when an emergency happens or even when they have a legal question. These plans do exactly what Congress intended when it established Section 120- guarantee affordable access to legal services for middle class families by addressing their real and otherwise unmet need for legal help. Some legal plans are prepaid legal plans . The term Prepaid Legal Service Plan has been developed over the last fifteen years to denote any type of arrangement that establishes a fund of money in the present that is used to pay legal fees for services required by plan contributors in the future. A Lawyer's Guide to Prepaid Legal Services By Alec Schwartz American Bar Association Press p 3 (1988). In a prepaid plan, often the employer pay the legal plan administrators up front legal fees which are used to hire a local attorney to provide wills, real estate closings, divorce representation, etc. What does a prepaid legal plan really do? First, it reduces the cost of legal services to the consumer. Rather than paying a possible $115- $155 per hour or a flat fee of up to $900 for a simple divorce, the consumer or their employer may pay between $50- $200 per year for the legal plan and they then are eligible to use a lawyer for services which would otherwise cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. A prepaid plan, because it prepays for and provides ready access to lawyer services, encourages preventive legal care. A Lawyer's Guide to Prepaid Legal Services at 4. Unpaid plans, such as the AFL-CIO's Union Privilege Legal Service, provides free consultations and referrals to qualified attorneys Today millions of Americans are given access to an attorney, usually a private attorney under employer plans and also under employee or consumer plans. See Prepaid Legal Plans Help Small Law Firms and Consumers Solo-ABA/GP Winter, 1994
On March 4, 1994 I met with Congressman Frank Pallone, D- NJ to discuss legal service plans. I encouraged him to support prepaid legal plans to help consumers. Congressman Pallone, a long time supporter of Consumer legislation, appears on our side. Legal services improve economic productivity, because an employee distracted by legal difficulties isn't fully effective. Legal Plan Letter Number 290, National Resource Center for Consumers of Legal Services at 3.
According to the American Prepaid Legal Services Institute (API), a Chicago-based ABA related national membership organization, group legal service plans involve advance arrangements for meeting personal legal needs, especially for legal services that prevent or settle disputes. Legal service plans extend quality, low cost legal services to middle income Americans. They are inexpensive - the average employer-paid plan costs less than $100 per family per year. Everyone should have a will, power of attorney, living will and access to a local attorney. These plans enhance employee productivity by promoting emotional, financial and physical health. Legal services plans work much like prepaid dental or medical plans. Building Your Small Firm Practice on a Prepaid Foundation Florida Bar Journal Vol. LXVIII, No 1 p48 (Jan. 1994).
The Late William Bolger, Director of the Union Privilege Legal Services of the AFL-CIO and other national leaders in the legal service field states that legal plans enjoy strong, broad support from labor, consumer, bar and insurance groups. IRS Tax Credit Section 120 places employer paid group legal service plans on equal footing with other statutory fringe benefits by providing the same favorable tax treatment. As in the case of medical services, early treatment can prevent catastrophe and its attendant cost in time and money. For example, psychological studies have demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between legal problems and lost work time and productivity. Employees' work performance often has a direct relationship to personal legal problems, therefore the sooner a solution can be found for the employees' problem, the sooner the employees can focus on their work. See Opening the Door to Affordable Legal Services American Prepaid Legal Services Institute p1 (1988).
It is not difficult to organize a legal services plan, whether it is a union, trade association, church or non-profit organization. At least half of the population does not have adequate access to the legal system. By increasing awareness of legal services plans, a win/win opportunity exists for people with legal problems. All consumers and businesses should support legal plans.