Businesses rarely think of the many legal situations that can arise. Whether it’s legal questions or advice, contract review, or the dreaded lawsuit. How can you protect your business without going broke? “Small Business Stacey” interviews Stanley Barnes of Legal Shield about legal insurance. #ASmallBizLife #WhereMarketingMeetTechnology
Stacey: Life insurance, car insurance, renters insurance. You’ve probably heard about these types of products. Have you heard of legal insurance?
That’s what we’re talking about today. Hey everybody. Stacey Riska here, and I have a very special guest, Stanley Barnes from Legal Shield out of Lexington, Kentucky. And, you are definitely want to get going to want to get a pen and paper because we are talking about how you can protect your business and your personal life with legal insurance. Welcome to the show, Stanley.
Stanley: How’s everything going today?
Stacey: It’s great. The sun is out. I can’t complain and I’m talking to you. So, now I’ve got a smile from ear to ear. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I know you probably didn’t grow up saying I want to be an attorney for legal insurance, right? So, there’s got to be some backstory. How’d you get to where you are today?
Stanley: Well, Stacey, I started in the insurance business with a company that was pretty well known at one time. called Mutual New York. When I was with them early on, I did a lot of what I call “kitchen table financial planning” with young couples. And, one of the things that they desperately needed was a will. Most of them didn’t have it. It didn’t matter what stripe of society they came from — 80% of these people didn’t have wills and they were old. So I was trying to figure out a way to help them, and I got introduced to Legal Shield. Legal Shield’s personal plans provide a comprehensive will at no charge with their membership. It was a really nice fit, and that’s how I started getting involved. I really liked the product, and I use it. I started of course using them myself; I bought it for myself and there’s not a year that goes by that I don’t use it two or three times. And, it’s been very, very helpful for me. The thing about it is a lot of times you’re put in a position where you don’t have any options: what are you going to do about a situation? And in many cases, Legal Shield is the answer. And it served me very well. Maybe less than 10 years ago they came out with two things: group-oriented products, as well as products for small business owners. And, that’s what I’d like to talk to you primarily about today — the products for small business owners. I’m small business owner myself. I have the plan and I’ll tell you a little bit later on about how I’ve used it just this month.
They have three plans and they’re based on the number of employees. They have a a plan for 10 or fewer employees, a plan for 50 or fewer employees, and a plan for 100 or fewer employees. So, they do cover a pretty broad spectrum for small businesses. And, I’ll do a couple of bullet points on what these plans actually provide. In a nutshell, they take care of any business issues, legal business issues that fall below what I call a $500-an-hour threshold, which is what many business attorneys would charge for an hour’s worth of service. And you know, for smaller businesses, that’s a big decision to write a check for $500.
Maybe they get something fixed, maybe not, they don’t know. So, these plans do very well for them. They are a flat monthly fee; and the fee is $39 for the smallest plan, $89 for the middle plan, and $149 for the the largest capacity plan. You can purchase plans that are above your employee number, but you can’t go in the opposite direction. So, in other words, if one of these plans offers an option that you know you’re going to use more of and you’re a 10-or-less business, you can go with one of the larger plans, and that’s fine. So, here’s the basic areas that they cover, and all three plans cover these areas. First of all, is Designated Users. You may have a c0-owner or an office manager or someone that you want to have access to the plan, as well.
The small business 10 plan can I have up to two users, the biz 50 plan up to three, and the small business 100 plan, you can go up to five designated users. So, you can spread out the management area for your employees. For legal consultation, you have all of them. You have unlimited matters and I’m unlimited minutes. So, for situations such as hiring, firing, small claims, equipment, leases, incorporation, bankruptcy, joint ventures, landlord-tenant disputes, bad check recovery — which is a common one, customer complaints, problems with your vendors, creditor harassment, identity theft, and a few others. You just pick up the phone, you talk to your attorney, and it doesn’t matter how many times you call them about these matters. They’re always there for you.
Then there are designated consultations, and these areas are typically out-of-state legal matters in rather specific areas. So, you have three consultations per year, 30 minutes each, and your chances are you may not re-use this. But it’s there, and there are things like commodities, securities, patents, copyrights, trademarks, antitrust issues arising outside of the state but within the United States, and there are a few others. So you know, they do cover more specific areas that you may or may not run into. As far as legal correspondences concerns, with the smallest plan, you have 20 calls or letters per year up to six in any one month, and one follow up letter per matter. And, then the middle plan — the 50 plan is 30, and the 100 plan you have 40.
So, typically in the cases I’ve experienced, usually one letter takes care of it, but you may need more. And, then for collection letters — the bad check or the bad debt situation, which is pretty common, the smallest plan, you have five a month; and the 50 plan you have 10 a month; and the small biz 100 plan, you have 15 of these letters per month. So, that’s pretty nice. They have document review — 20 documents per year, 15-page limit per document for the 10 plan; 30 for the biz 50 plan; and 40 for the small business 100. And, finally for trial defense, if you’re sued, the small biz 10 plan doesn’t have any there. But, the other two plans are a 75 total hours for the biz 50 and 75 total hours for the biz 100. And, they have up to 15 and 25 hours of pre-trial time paid for — and you typically spend most of your time in the preparation. So, this gives you a little overview of the plans. And like I said, they tend to help the business owner in situations where they are hesitant to spend perhaps three, four or $500 an hour. But still this is a problem they’d like to get solved.
Stacey: Stanley, you are so right on, I have someone in my Mastermind group who was asking she if she should retain an attorney. Because a business owner is growing the day they start their business, they’re not thinking that they would ever have any legal issues, but to what they could be. And, you just alluded to so many of them — from hiring, from firing, from working out contracts, to bad checks, to vendors — so many legal issues that can come up over the course of your business. And, I think too many business owners shy away from protecting themselves because they think, “Oh my God, if I pick up the phone and call an attorney, it’s going to cost me $500 just to try to chat with them, much less the work that needs to be done.” So, they’re not getting the protection that they need. So, as I understand it with Legal Shield, they get all of this protection bundled and anytime they have a question, a concern, or they just want to run something by an attorney — something as simple as writing a letter that you may need or reviewing a contract or in a worst-case situation going to court, you get all of this under one umbrella. Is that correct?
Stanley: Yes it is. And, and it’s very comprehensive. It’s funny because what we run into is people, they have the plan and once they use it, they’re never going to let go of it. Before they used it, they were not sure. They were like it sounds great, but I don’t know if this is going to work? But once they try it, they typically won’t let go because it really does work. I’ve had my plans since ’98 and like I mentioned, I use it. Maybe I’m in trouble more often than most people. I don’t know. But I use it all the time.
Stacey: That’s great. And, in full disclosure, I’ve used Legal Shield, as well. So Stanley, you mentioned that you just used it last week. Let’s hear your story, and then I’ll share how I benefited from Legal Shield, as well.
Stanley: I purchased a vehicle for my business and the dealership was out of state. Now, this was a Jaguar-Land Rover-Volvo- Lexus dealership. So, it wasn’t Bob’s Buy-Here-Pay-Here car lot. So, I expected everything would be above board, and it was pretty much through most of the process. They are about 250 miles away from my home, and the vehicle arrived and it was supposed to have all the signed paperwork in it. Now, prior to this they had FedEx’ed me paperwork me to sign it, and I FedEx’ed it back to them. It was supposed to be, like I mentioned, in the vehicle. So it arrives, it’s not there. I immediately called them and over the next seven to 10 days, there were several phone calls, emails, so forth and so on, and no response. I was really not a happy guy. So, I picked up the phone and I called the Kentucky Legal Shield where I’m from, and got a call back of course, within a few hours and talk to the attorney. He says, “Well, you know, we’re going to have to refer you out of state.” So, within 24 hours I was talking to an attorney in the state where the dealership was and they sent out a letter and I received my paperwork via email pretty quickly after that. It was just one letter and it got the job done. And the whole thing here was that I just felt that they had an obligation to send me whatever I signed. They had my money, I paid for the vehicle, and so now it was like, “Ah, forget this guy. Moving on.” Legal Shield stepped in, I got what I needed, and I was very happy — and very happy I had the service.
Stacey: Wow, that’s a great testament, and just think of the time that it saved you. And, if you for some reason did happen to be on the wrong track, then at least the attorney could tell you that. They helped you get a positive resolution.
Stanley: Right. And it’s funny because I’ve dealt with him in the past where they have a strategy for dealing with a lot of situations that, you not being in the legal profession, would never think about. And that perspective of theirs has been very helpful in the past, too.
Stacey: That’s a good point, because you may think that you have the right to do something or not do something, but you know it probably is best to run it by an attorney who can give you sound advice. Let me share my story. So I’m dating myself here, but back in the 90s my first business was DataMax Solutions, and this was when the internet was a very new thing. Google was not what it was back then. It was very hard to find organizations online, and we used to get phone calls all the time with people lambasting us for false invoicing them for toner for their printer. Well, we didn’t sell toner, we had nothing to do with printers, and we kept getting these calls. We thought that was so strange. And then one day the sheriff shows up at our door and hands me “I’ve Been Served” — out of state. I’m in Washington, DC and I was being sued in Chicago for hundreds of thousands of dollars, for making these false claims of selling toner to people who didn’t order it. The company name on the lawsuit said Data Max Solutions.
So what did I do after I freaked out? I picked up the phone and called Legal Shield. So long story short, they totally represented me, I did not have to travel out to Chicago, and they were like, “We have it under control. We’ll go to court for you. This is not you. We’re going to get it taken care of.” Here’s the thing. What I learned through this process is that anybody can sue anybody for any reason, whether it’s legit or not. What happened was that this supposed DataMax Solutions was running under the radar. And, so when people went online, because they were so angry about getting this thousand dollar invoice for toner that they didn’t order, they found us. They found us as DataMax Solutions, and insinuated it was us. So, interestingly enough, the paralegal at the law firm made a mistake, made a mistake, and incorrectly served us with this lawsuit. And, although it was done incorrectly, we still had to go and defend ourselves. Now, if you’re running a business and you are sued across the country, just because somebody misused your name, think of what it’s going to cost you in time and money and legal costs to do that. So, I am a true testament because it literally saves me time and money.
Stanley: We hear these stories all the time. I had another guy who’s, let’s just say, is in the entertainment business; and for his business, he had a little newsletter that used caricatures and iconic stuff or emoji type things all through his newsletter. He was getting phishing expeditions played on him almost every month for copyright infringements. They wanted 500 bucks or a thousand or something like that. Not a lot of money. Something he’s more likely to run a check for, rather than go to the attorney for. And, so once he signed on with legal shield, all that went away. So things happen and this product is there for the everyday crazy stuff that happens in a business.
Stacey: So what is the process? Do they have to submit anything? Prove that their business is a certain size? If somebody is interested in this, what are their starting points?
Stanley: It starts with a paper application or we can do an application online. As far as the size of your business, it’s a little bit of an honor system. But, on the back end of that is if you call them and your problem is obviously for a business that as much larger than the plan you had, you may have a problem with the legal firm. Generally it’s not 100% right at the numbers, but it’s a simple process. You apply, you tell us how many employees you have, fill out the paperwork. It’s a one-page application essentially. And, and you’re good to go. They can set up whatever sort of payment a plan you want to do as far as the monthly end of it, they’ll draft you and I believe they’ll paper bill you, as well.
Stacey: Well, talking about small business owners, if they’re looking at their back office, so to speak, what do you find are the biggest challenges or legal situations that they run into?
Stanley: Employee situations are big because anytime you have employees, people working for you, all kinds of crazy things can happen and you just don’t know. So that’s a big item in general. I get a lot of companies that are interested in this for collecting on debt, that’s pretty popular. But it, it really just boils down to the business itself. I think that there’s a real strong feeling of peace of mind. It’s where these business owners, when they get involved with one of these products, they know that whatever comes up pretty much, at least they can call somebody and get some advice or point you in another direction, even if the person you’re speaking with or the firm can’t really help them out a lot. They can certainly be given some guidance as to how to proceed — and it’s a whole lot better to know the direction to travel before you start the trip, rather than just jumping out there and hoping for the best. That’s where a lot of business owners find themselves when they’ve got a situation, a legal situation they’ve never dealt with.
Stacey: That’s a really good point. Now, Stanley, earlier in the show you alluded to having a will, and I am shocked how many people don’t have a will. They don’t think about this. Is this a separate product?
Stanley: Thanks for bringing that up. I have a personal Legal Shield product, as well. It’s a family-type product. So, if one person in the family has it, everyone else is pretty much covered — the spouse and children, that sort of thing. And it’s very similar in scope to the business plans. They cover a tremendous amount of territory, and it boils down to you having unlimited calls and they’ll write letters for you, and/or guide you in this situation or that situation. The will was a big plus for me, as I said, because the problem with trying to get a will for somebody was that it’s time where they have to meet an attorney and so forth and so on.
This they can all do either online or via email, and they also are allowed to have an existing will updated, and the will that they get from Legal Shield can be reviewed every year, as well, without any charge. With the personal plan, things come up all the time. Let me give you an example. I was minding my own business Monday. I was driving home and notice they are putting in a new sewer line in on my side of the street. So I thought, “Oh boy, I better take pictures of my yard.” And sure enough, when they passed beyond my home, I had a brand new fire hydrant in my yard, and they didn’t bother very to fill in the five-foot deep trench, about 10 feet long that led up to the fire hydrant. They didn’t bother to do any landscaping or anything, they just kind of threw a little this, that, and the other in. So, I took pictures of it, sent them to Legal Shield, and they wrote letters to the County and the City of Richmond. Eventually, we got it fixed, as well as everyone else down the street because I guess they projected that if they fixed one problem, they’re going to have to fix them all. And, to be honest with you, I wasn’t sure if they were going to do anything ever. I didn’t really want to wait around to find out. So, they helped me out. This was a couple of years ago, but things just happen and, and I look to legal shield more and more because if I have some sort of problem that crops up, I know I’ve got them in my back pocket. Worst case scenario, we can pick up the phone. It adds a lot of confidence to your life.
Stacey: I think the words that you said, peace of mind applies whether it’s business or personal. Let’s talk about marketing. What are you doing to market your business? You mentioned you’re a small business owner when it comes to marketing, prepaid legal, what’s working and what’s not?
Stanley: I’m in the insurance business, as well, and primarily I address business owners for a lot of reasons. Anytime I’m dealing with a business owner, whether it’s for an insurance product that they might be interested in, Legal Shield is always brought up. For the small business plan, for the business owner it’s brought up if the business owner has a few employees, it’s brought up as a group prospect for he and his employees, as well. So, that’s the way I generally market the product. It starts off as usually an introduction to a business for a separate product, an insurance -type product. And, then it goes from there into the Legal Shield aspect of it. It’s really usually a very smooth fit — an easy segue from one to the other because again, the solutions that Legal Shield provides are universal, they are there for everybody. Everybody faces the same problems that this product helps out with. And, coincidentally enough, everybody is just as confused as to how to deal with these problems before they have Legal Shield. So it really does present a very, very good solution for people.
Stacey: Great, Stanley. I find it so amazing, people don’t think twice about having that car insurance card in their wallet. You’ve got to have car insurance or homeowners insurance. Whether it’s for business and/or personal, I really believe that everybody needs to have this legal insurance. It is so cost effective and you do not want to be in a situation where you wake up one day and say, “Dang, why didn’t I do that?” It’s insurance. You want to insure yourself against future potentially bad situations. So Stanley, I know that my audience is going to be clamoring to get in touch with you to learn more. How can they do that?
Stanley: The best way is through my email address; that’s of course as most everyone is always tuned into their email, and I’m no exception. My email address is S as in Stanley, Barnes, B, A, R, N, E, S firstname.lastname@example.org. And once I’m contacted, we can go from there. It’s just depends on what’s convenient for the person — whether it’s a text or email or phone or whatever. But we can pretty much work one way or another, whatever is best for them and get them taken care of as quickly as possible.
Stacey: Fantastic. Just to clarify, because you are in Kentucky, does it matter where the person is located?
Stanley: I was looking for an opportunity to bring up this exact question. These products are good in all 50 States and five provinces in Canada, so it doesn’t really matter where you live. We can take care of you.
Stacey: All right guys. There you have it. Reach out to Stanley and send him an email. I’m sure he will be very gracious with his time and answer any and all of your questions about how Legal Shield can help protect you and your business. Any parting words, Stanley?
Stanley: I would just enjoy anybody who I could help. This is what this really is about — bringing peace of mind to your life and to smooth out some of the rough spots.
Stacey: That’s good ending advice. All right, everybody, this is “Small Business Stacey”, your small biz marketing specialist here to help you get your marketing into action and help you become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz. Bye bye.
Stacey Riska, aka "Small Business Stacey" is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small - and not so small - businesses one marketing plan at a time. She helps business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients/patients, MORE sales, and MORE profit. Stacey's in-demand "Small Biz Marketing Success Coaching and Mastermind Program" is transforming the businesses - and lives - of those who want wealth, freedom, and market domination. Her highly acclaimed book "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" lays out the 6-simple-step plan to get your marketing into ACTION - literally and figuratively. Stacey is also the creator of Cups To Gallons, the place where independent coffee, smoothie, juice bar, ice cream, dessert and snack shop owners go to learn how get into lucrative catering so they stop selling by the cup and start selling by the gallon. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn't!) and spending time with her amazing husband.
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