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Controlling Pre-Paid Legal Costs

12/10/2017

By enrolling in the Trust’s Pre-paid Legal Program coverage, which provides up to $300,000 in legal services annually, a district can be assured that essential legal service needs will be paid for during the year. 

 

To participate in the program, a district is assessed a contribution at the beginning of the year.  The contribution represents an average of program usage over the most recent three years.  (If a district is new to the program, the contribution is based on average daily membership.)  

  

While contributions to the program typically do not vary much from year to year, a school district may experience an increase in its contribution due to an unusual amount of legal service usage during one or more of the prior three years.  For example, a district may face a complicated employment disciplinary action or termination matter that results in a hearing; numerous public records requests by a special education advocate or an individual in the community; or a new administrator’s heavy reliance on legal advice from a program attorney.

 

The benefit of participating in the Pre-Paid Legal Program is that the district can pay an affordable contribution at the beginning of the year, obtain legal services it needs, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that many of its legal costs will be covered.  Trust staff also handles all billing with the district’s selected attorney, which removes the inconvenience of invoicing and submitting payments.

 

In most cases, the need for legal services is unavoidable, and very often predictable. Nonetheless, districts retain some control over their usage of services through the program, and therefore over the annual contribution they must make. Below are a few suggestions for reducing the risk of a large increase in contribution.

 

  • Define the scope of a service request with the attorney at the beginning of representation.  
  • For special services, use an attorney who specializes in a particular practice area.
  • Regularly review service requests on the Pre-Paid Legal Program website.
  • Collaborate with other school districts to use a single attorney when facing the same issue or legal needs.
  • Prioritize service requests.