Reinventing Professionals

Prepaid legal services provider LegalShield adapts by 'adding a layer of technology'

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Ari Kaplan

Ari Kaplan

Ari Kaplan spoke with Keri Norris, the senior vice president for regulatory affairs and a chief legal officer at LegalShield, a provider of prepaid legal services.

This Q&A has been condensed.

Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your background and your role at LegalShield.

Keri Norris: I am the senior vice president of regulatory affairs and the chief legal officer, which means I am a little bit of a generalist. I oversee the company’s litigation and traditional corporate work, as well as regulatory affairs, legislative affairs, and product development. I came to LegalShield directly from Crowe & Dunlevy in Oklahoma City and was also with Hunton & Williams in Raleigh. I spent the first part of my career as a traditional large-firm litigation attorney focusing on bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, oil and gas, and intellectual property contracting.

Ari Kaplan: What does LegalShield offer?

Keri Norris: We are a provider of affordable legal plans and we also offer identity theft protection and restoration, for individuals, as well as family and small businesses in all 50 states and four provinces of Canada. We have more than 1.6 million families that are protected by our legal plan. We also sell a small-business legal plan where we protect over 140,000 companies that either offer LegalShield as a voluntary benefit or are members. We recently launched our newest product in the legal shield portfolio, which helps startup founders structure their new business.

Ari Kaplan: Can you describe the typical law firm that is supporting your customers?

Keri Norris: LegalShield is a little bit different in how we operate our business than some of our competitors. We have designated law firms in every state. Most of these firms have been in a partnership with LegalShield for almost 20 years, so they are established law firms that people recognize and are familiar with. We also have a network of panel or referral attorneys also in all 50 states, and we are looking to grow that network all the time. All of the lawyers on of our panel of provider law firms and in the attorney network must meet certain requirements, including a minimum number of years of practice, areas of expertise, and current malpractice insurance, among others. What we really value and consider our real secret is that all of the lawyers in our network absolutely must believe in and buy into the LegalShield customer service model. We have very stringent expectations of our lawyers in terms of timeliness, responsiveness, explanations, and helpful representation. We monitor and value that.

Ari Kaplan: How is LegalShield adapting to the changing legal market?

Keri Norris: The legal market is absolutely changing faster than ever. LegalShield was founded in 1972, at a time when group and prepaid legal plans were a little bit unknown. They have become a very efficient tool to match clients with lawyers for specific legal needs. Group legal plans like LegalShield offer a panel of lawyers with expertise in various areas who are connected directly with clients for the services that they need. Consumers are expecting legal services to be delivered faster than ever before, and they want to be able to find an attorney more easily. LegalShield is adapting by adding a layer of technology to our lawyers and helping clients access them with the touch of a button on our mobile app. Clients can send them speeding tickets or attach contracts for review through their mobile phone so that their lawyers can easily return calls and talk to them about their everyday legal issues. We now have a will inside of our mobile app, where the customer answers a few questions and speaks with his or her law firm, which can then complete that will. Everyone has to find a way to keep lawyers and clients connected. We are not a DIY (do-it-yourself) service. We don’t just put information out there and ask the customer to figure it out. We think every person should have a lawyer and a law firm in their corner so we are constantly focused on making the connection between the client and the attorney.

Ari Kaplan: The company is holding its annual conference in July. What is the theme for this event?

Keri Norris: We are holding our first attorney conference for the lawyers that are in our family today, as well as lawyers that want to join our family and our mission. We are calling this conference “Elevate by LegalShield,” and we really want to help lawyers elevate their practices, their businesses, their personal lives, and just really take themselves and their legal practices to a whole new level. It is a three-day event from July 6 through the 8th in San Diego.

Listen to the complete interview at Reinventing Professionals.

Ari Kaplan regularly interviews leaders in the legal industry and in the broader professional services community to share perspective, highlight transformative change, and introduce new technology at his blog and on iTunes.

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