LegalShield a project of passion
June 12, 2012
D’Ann DaBell refers to herself as the LegalShield Lady. It’s not like the Avon Lady; she doesn’t go door-to-door. But since the 20-year resident took the job as a legal services broker eight years ago, she said she really began to know the people in her community. And they know her.
They recognize the LegalShield sticker prominently displayed on her car, and in grocery aisles and at the gas pump people call her by the nickname.
"It has become an unofficial nickname around town," she said.
DaBell started her own LegalShield branch in Park City after a career as a court reporter, the new business building on her well-rooted interest in the United States legal system. LegalShield is a national company that was started four decades ago.
The pre-paid legal service provides attorney support to members on problems ranging from eviction notices to speeding tickets. Through a monthly rate, members can protect themselves and receive discounted services when they file a lawsuit or face criminal charges. LegalShield also provides identity theft insurance.
"The legal system is broken," DaBell said. "Most Americans cannot afford $200 to $300 per hour to talk to an attorney or to get help. That’s why most Americans don’t use attorneys.
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In the first years of the job, DaBell remembers the situations where LegalShield worked at its best. One Summit County resident was about to lose her home due to foreclosure, but with the help of an attorney she was able to work out another payment schedule with her bank.
"This service gives Americans the ability to talk to an attorney on any matter without worrying about the costs," DaBell said.
Using a larger membership base that pays into the service each month, LegalShield can provide services to millions of members, a similar system to health insurance. DaBell said she believed in the business model from the get-go, the idea that anyone could afford legal help, but it wasn’t until she used the services that she got a firsthand taste of how it all worked.
When a timeshare claimed they hadn’t received a payment from DaBell even though she’d sent the check, she worried that she may have to pay twice or her credit might be negatively affected. With a call to a LegalShield attorney, she discovered that Utah law was on her side. Once her check was in the mail, the responsibility to make sure it got to its final destination was off her shoulders. And for good measure, a letter from her attorney to the timeshare drove home that point.
"I got a letter in the mail from the timeshare," she said. "They said they would reflect the payment as received with no late fees or damage to my credit. They apologized and gave us a free three-night stay at any of their timeshare properties."
The Park City branch was built from the ground up. As a broker with a national company, DaBell received some instruction on how to get started, but when it came down to it, she built up clients, set her hours and figured out a way to make a living at the job.
"I know people I meet them all the time in Park City who have been ripped off, taken advantage of, who have a mortgage issue or a landlord issue," DaBell said. "There are so many issues in our everyday life that come up where people don’t have help and they can’t afford it."
"That’s why I’m passionate about this business," she added. "It gives everyone affordable access to the legal system."
LegalShield provides services to Individuals, Families and Small Businesses
Rates start at $17.95 per month