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Prepared for the September 13, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper.
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In a Legal Pickle? An HMO for Law
You get a traffic ticket that you feel is unfair. So
you call your attorney to ask who to see at traffic court and what
to say. You may not get your fine reduced, but you have a good chance
of not getting "points" on your license.
What if you don’t have an attorney? Most middle class families don’t,
says Linda Ramsey of Prepaid Legal Services Inc. "If any
kind of legal question comes up, they usually ignore it, or handle
it themselves, and the problem gets worse."
Her solution: buy a membership in her service. She gives a workshop
on Monday, September 18, at 6:30 p.m. at the Robert Wood Johnson
Hospital at Hamilton. It is free by registration: call 609-506-1650
(or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Ramsey’s own policy has provided various legal remedies, including
one for a teenage son’s traffic ticket. "It works kind of like
an HMO," says Ramsey. "If my daughter’s nose runs, I don’t
hesitate to call a doctor because I have insurance. If you can get
your question answered about a legal situation, you may be able to
solve the problem before things get bad. For families, I love this
service with all my heart."
Ramsey grew up in Bristol, Pennsylvania, where her father was a
She has two school-age and two grown children. She has had various
businesses ("the entrepreneur in me didn’t like working for
else") including travel sales. She can market this legal service
in almost all the states and says her commission income is
The 28-year-old service provides access to attorneys with the highest
rating ("not a hole in the wall attorney") in the United
and Canada. In New Jersey, the firm providing services is Mattleman,
Weinroth, & Miller. John Miller is the managing partner for the
in Cherry Hill, and the firm also has an office in Clinton.
Ramsey points out that the attorneys are very anxious to please member
clients. "They are graded. The firm gets a third of the membership
fees, and for 11,000 memberships that is a lot of money."
Policies in New Jersey cost $10.95 a month, or about $130 per year,
and this covers contract and document review, a letter or phone call
on your behalf, and a simple will for the primary member. Additional
wills for other family members cost only $20. Any member of your
family can get any number of toll-free phone consultations, and most
needs can be taken care of this way. Should you need specialized or
extended services, or if you need to go to court, you get a 25 percent
discount from either the original firm or the referral firm.
Also included is 24-hour coverage if you are detained by police.
tells of a woman in Philadelphia who was driving home at 3 a.m. from
taking care of her sick father. When the police stopped her, she
and was put through — at that hour — to her attorney. "If
someone in your family gets into trouble, the first thing they should
do is call the 800 number," says Ramsey. "If the problem
more than a letter or a phone call, there would be a charge, but at
least you would have service readily available."
In a divorce case, the first spouse to call the service gets the
attorney. The other spouse would be referred to an attorney from
firm. The 25 percent membership discount would apply to both.
Ramsey tells of taking her son’s just-purchased used car to the
station and watching the mechanic damage it on the lift. When the
mechanic denied doing the damage, it was going to be his word against
hers. Her son called the attorney. "The owner of the shop said
my son didn’t have to do that," says Ramsey, "but if you are
21 years old, of course you do. They fixed the car, free, within a
In another example of a client who received help, a friend’s husband
left $1,000 worth of tools on a job at the request of his boss who
promised to be responsible for them. When the tools were stolen, not
only did the boss not pay for them, but he also tried to collect
for an insurance bill. The friend had a letter ready to send to the
boss, but Ramsey persuaded her to join the service and consult an
attorney first. When she read that letter to the attorney, he said
that the letter would have made her liable for both bills. "You
don’t know what you can do to yourself in a letter," says Ramsey.
This service is meant to protect you, not to encourage you to file
lawsuits. If you do file a suit, you would get your legal services
provided at the 25 percent discount. "Since the attorneys are
not getting $200 an hour, they are not going to try to drag things
out," says Ramsey. "They will want to solve the problem here
— Barbara Fox
The fact that China is moving towards admission in the
World Trade Organization — and that a market of 1.3 billion
is moving into a rules-based trading system — will establish a
"long-lasting and very productive relationship for the United
States, and more particularly for New Jersey," says Jose Gomez
Rivera is acting director of International Trade & Protocol for the
state (U.S. 1, September 6). He will speak at a seminar entitled
Trade — Seize the Moment" on Wednesday, September 20, at 8:30
a.m. at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison. Cost: $75.
are required, and display tables can be reserved for $300. Call
extension 28 (www.morrischamber.org).
Other speakers include Robert Kapp, president of the U.S.-China
Business Council, Sheldon Feinman of International Trade
Co., Laurence Harper of Ballantrae International, Steve Shaw
of Umbrellas Etc., and Antoinette Corsini of HSBC Bank.
Twenty Chinese companies will send representatives, and appointments
with these delegations are available. Among the cities represented
are Tianjing, Beijing, Geijow, and Shenzhen. Many delegations seek
export opportunities, but among the other requests are a production
line for synthetic fiber, a real estate development partner, an
with $5 million to contribute to a high tech venture capital fund,
and contracts to restore historic buildings.
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