Kenneth Vercammen is a Middlesex County trial attorney who has published 130 articles in national and New Jersey publications on Criminal Law and litigation topics. He was awarded the NJ State State Bar Municipal Court Practitioner of the Year. He lectures and handles criminal cases, Municipal Court, DWI, traffic and other litigation matters. He is Co Chair of the ABA Criminal Law Committee, GP and was a speaker at the ABA Annual Meeting. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us or New clients email us evenings and weekends go to www.njlaws.com/ContactKenV.htm

Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, P.C,

2053 Woodbridge Avenue,

Edison, NJ 08817,

(732) 572-0500,

www.njlaws.com

Monday, June 12, 2017

Pre-paid GROUP LEGAL PLANS- PROVIDING LOW COST ADVICE TO CONSUMERS IN NEW JERSEY

Pre-paid GROUP LEGAL PLANS- 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 “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). 

         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.  For additional information on the  Prepaid Legal Services, contact the author.

About the Author

Kenneth A. Vercammen                     Tel: 908/906-2180
Law Offices of Kenneth Vercammen               
407 Main Street
Metuchen, NJ 08840

       The Law Office of Kenneth A. Vercammen   provides legal services to eleven national major prepaid legal service plans.  It provides representation services for  Wills, Trust, Probate, Criminal & Traffic Court, DWI, Divorce, and Personal Injury.  To provide better legal service in the complex and ever-changing areas of law, they utilize the latest available technology, caselaw, statutes and research.  By offering a full range of legal services, the office has grown and continued to provide effective representation and advice.

      Kenneth Vercammen is a Litigation Attorney in Metuchen, NJ, approximately 17 miles north of Princeton.  He often lectures for the New Jersey State Bar Association on personal injury, criminal / municipal court law and drunk driving.   He has published 60 articles in national and New Jersey publications on municipal court and litigation topics. He has served as a Special Acting Prosecutor in seven different cities and towns in New Jersey and also successfully defended hundreds of individuals facing Municipal Court and Criminal Court charges.
             
       In his private practice, he has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters.  He has appeared in Courts throughout New Jersey several times each week on many personal injury matters, Municipal Court trials, matrimonial hearings and contested administrative law hearings.
             
       Since 1985, his primary concentration has been on litigation matters.  Mr. Vercammen gained other legal experiences as the Confidential Law Clerk to the Court of Appeals of Maryland (Supreme Court),with the Delaware County, PA District Attorney Office handling Probable Cause Hearings,  Middlesex County Probation Dept as a Probation Officer, and an Executive Assistant to Scranton District Magistrate, Thomas Hart, in Scranton, PA.