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Lawyers on call 24/7

A new company promises legal help within 15 minutes, even in the middle of the night.

By doubleace Jun 24, 2011 12:36PM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.

 

It may not be an idea whose time has come, but it's here anyway.

 

A New England businessman has co-founded LawyerUp, which promises that for a monthly fee of $4.95 -- or $9.95 for a family plan -- or a one-time charge of $100, you can have yourself an attorney inside 15 minutes.

 

This is, of course, a service for the little people; organized-crime figures, big businessmen and politicians have their legal help on retainer. But if you have the misfortune of being caught robbing a convenience store at 1:30 a.m. or driving drunk at 4 a.m., it can be mighty handy.  Post continues after video. 

When a client calls LawyerUp's toll-free line or punches an app that is available on Android and is coming soon to iPhones, a company representative will immediately bill him or her $250 for an hour's worth of legal assistance. Within 15 minutes, a lawyer will contact the client, discuss the situation, give advice and possibly arrange bail. When the hour expires, it is up to the client and lawyer to negotiate for further services.

 

The lawyers pay no fees to be on the call list, so the service does not violate the profession's ethics code. Nonetheless, Ralph Monaco, president of the Connecticut Bar Association, was wary in an interview with The New York Times. He called the company's name "so tasteless" and said he was concerned that the quickie referrals might create a relationship that an unethical lawyer could use to take advantage of the new client.


Monaco might also have been put off by comparisons being made by LawyerUp co-founder Chris Miles.


"If I want a pizza, I can get a pizza in 15 minutes," Miles told the NYT. "I can get a plumber in the middle of the night. Why can't I get a lawyer?"


Miles told the newspaper that the qualifications of the lawyers on his list have been checked thoroughly. "There has got to be something more fair than a pay phone and a phone book in a police station somewhere," he said. "I'd hire any one of these attorneys to represent me or my family."


LawyerUp began full operations this month in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and a company official told WPRI-TV in Providence, R.I., that about 1,000 clients have signed up, but that no one in Rhode Island has actually used the service yet. Miles told the NYT that "a handful" of people in the three states had called for a lawyer.

 

LawyerUp might just be taking awhile to catch on, or it might be a case of supply exceeding demand.

 

The American Bar Association says there were 1,180,386 lawyers in the U.S. in 2008. Slate magazine says the nation's 200 law schools have granted about 43,500 new law degrees each year since then, even while the number of lawyer jobs has dropped 7.8%.

 

So maybe sitting home at night waiting for some perp to call is not a bad idea. It sure beats delivering pizza.

 

More on MSN Money: 
9Comments
Jun 25, 2011 4:23AM
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I had my hopes up that it supplied lawyers for target practice or something else just as nefarious.
Jun 25, 2011 10:00AM
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Three people on a boat in the ocean fall overboard in a storm, one's a doctor, one's a dentist and one's a lawyer...

 

The doctor is eaten by sharks first then the dentist, but they leave the lawyer alone and he is rescued.

 

Why didn't the sharks eat the lawyer?.....professional courtesy......

Jun 25, 2011 7:44AM
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Two guys standing at a bar.  One guy has his hands in his own pants pocket. The other guy asks him, "Het buddy, what do you do for a living?"  The guy replies,  "I am a lawyer."  The second guy starts laughing to no end, almost barrels over from his indginent laughing spree.  The lawyer asks him what is so funny about he being a lawyer.  The second guy answers, "You're the first lawyer I ever met that had his hands in his own pockets!"
Jun 25, 2011 10:46AM
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"violate the profession's ethics code" Really? They have an ethics code? Who knew? When did that start? Does anyone ever read it?
"1,180.386 lawyers in the U.S."---there's your problem!!
Jun 25, 2011 10:29AM
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Later on today I am planning to rob a bank. Can I prearrange a package of a lawyer, a gataway taxi, and possibly an ambulance in case things don't work out as planned :)
Jun 25, 2011 7:41AM
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This is nothing new.  There are plenty of websites that offer medical practioners, legal counsel, Insurance counsel and a plethora of other higher priced semi-professional and professioanl services on line.  This sounds like an "unpaid" advertisement to me cause it certianly AIN't news.
Jun 25, 2011 9:55AM
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Pre-Paid legal has been offering this since 1972.  I have been a client since 1994.  Well worth the low monthly charge!
Jun 25, 2011 10:23AM
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like a previous person said, this is pre paid legal without the network prepaid legal has. Only bad thing about pre paid is that its a multi level marketing set up like Amway was. It is real, it does work, and they do help you get a lawyer, but your focus is to get new members while you are waiting for the moment you need a lawyer.

 

People seem to forget though. You still pay the lawyer for their services. All the memberships do is tell you stuff most people with common sense know, and they help you find a lawyer.

Jun 25, 2011 11:21AM
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It seems to me that this company, charging you $250.00 for "an hours" worth of legal assistance, with you and the referred lawyer making arrangements for the amount and terms of the legal fees for all services rendered thereafter, coupled with the fact that the lawyers purportedly pay nothing to be on the referral list, is basically "practicing law without a license," inasmuch as they get that first $250 for the attorney's first hour of work, not to mention the monthly charges or one time payment to "join up."  If any part of the $250" is shared with the attorney then the same unauthorized practice of law is occurring, but this time coupled with both unlawful "fee sharing" as well as complicity on the part of the attorney in assisting this company in their unauthorized practice of law - of course, for the express purpose of ultimately lining their pocket.
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