|San Leandran Provides Legal Service for Small Businesses||| Print ||
|Thursday, 01 December 2011 16:07|
By Linda Sandsmark
San Leandro Times
Longtime San Leandro resident Dan Buchalter has a unique perspective on the legal field, coming from many years in the trenches.
“I went straight from high school to college to law school.
Practicing law for me was emotionally and physically exhausting,” he says. “My concern for clients kept me awake at night, and I had very little job satisfaction.”
He also realized that the one thing keeping most people from accessing quality legal assistance is money. Then about 10 years ago, he heard about Legal Shield (formerly Pre-Paid Legal Services). The concept is similar to that of health insurance. The buying power of large numbers of clients means a lower cost per individual, since not everyone needs services at the same time. In the event of emergency, members can receive legal advice at any time of the day or night.
Since 2006 Buchalter has helped clients, particularly small businesses, assess the types of legal assistance they might need. He suggests and sells reasonably-priced coverage through the Legal Shield program.
“I’ve gone from being part of the problem to part of the solution,” says Buchalter. “Many people have been priced out of the legal system, and that’s not how it should be. I’m an advocate for my clients. I enjoy being a connector to find out what each individual needs.”
Legal Shield’s calls are “triaged” so emergencies are handled first, by one main law firm in each state. In California it’s the Parker-Stanbury law firm, which has been in business since the 1920s (see www.Parkstan.com).
Most of Legal Shield’s salespeople are not attorneys, and that’s where Buchalter’s legal expertise comes in handy.
“I only sell it to people who really need it, and I support them by showing them how to use it,” he says. “A lot of what I do is educating, so clients can have better outcomes in their situation.”
Buchalter specializes in small businesses that have 50 employees or fewer. Services include but are not limited to legal advice.
Many businesses are one-person shops and many people lose their businesses in the first five years, says Buchalter.
“We help them do better in business by adding customer relation advice, and management tools like e-mail campaigns.
Legal Shield has business consultants on staff for clients to run ideas past,” says Buchalter. “It’s like a Swiss Army knife of business tools. “
Legal consultations include contract review, small business partnerships and incorporation assistance, forms needed for business or personal legal issues, IRS advice, and so on.
Since lawyers in the Bay Area often charge hundreds of dollars per hour, Legal Shield’s rates are very competitive. Buchalter also sells to individuals, and says an average family can be covered for as little as $40 per month, including identity theft restoration. Clients receive assistance on such things as wills, personal contracts, motor vehicle violations, neighbor disputes, etc.
There are no long-term contracts with Legal Shield — clients are on a month-to-month basis and may discontinue at any time.
CAPTION: San Leandro resident Dan Buchalter represents Legal Shield, which provides reasonably-priced legal services. He will host a networking breakfast Dec. 15 at Comerica Bank to introduce people to the service.
PHOTO BY LINDA SANDSMARK