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#[1]alternate [ ] Sections (BUTTON) Watchlist [2][LINK] Signup o Login (BUTTON) Search [3]Signup [4]Login * [5]Home * [6]Latest News * [7]Markets * [8]Personal Finance * [9]The Moneyist * [10]Retirement * [11]Investing * [12]FA Center * [13]Economy & Politics * [14]Real Estate * [15]Quotes * [16]Video * [17]SectorWatch * [18]Entertainment * [19]Premium Newsletters * [20]Best New Ideas in Money * [21]Profile Settings * [22]Email & Alerts * [23]Watchlist * [24]Games 1. [25]Home [26]Personal Finance Should you pay a monthly fee for legal services like you do to health insurance? By [27]Kari Paul Published: Dec 21, 2016 7:38 p.m. ET Share (BUTTON) (BUTTON) (BUTTON) (BUTTON) (BUTTON) (BUTTON) These apps put a lawyer in the palm of your hand [INLINE] Sean Gallup A young man works at a computer in the community space of Factory Berlin. [28][LINK] By [29] KariPaul Reporter Imagine you are pulled over by the police for speeding and you are able to get a lawyer on the phone right away to guide you through the questioning process -- before the officer even gets to your car. And, should you receive a ticket, being able to send a copy of it through an app directly to your lawyer to begin a dispute process. Such personalized help is being made more accessible through LegalShield, a subscription-based legal service that promises to answer user phone calls within 15 seconds and have a lawyer on the line within 15 minutes in case of emergency. There is a need for such low-cost (and on-demand) legal services. A recent study from the American Bar Association found more than 80% of low-income Americans are unable to receive the legal help they need due to cost barriers. The average rate for attorney fees is [30]currently between $200 and $520 per hour. Using an attorney for drawing up a will alone can cost an average of $1,000 to $1,500, according to LegalZoom, a legal technology company that offers documents online. A recent study from the American Bar Association found more than 80% of low-income Americans are unable to receive the legal help they need due to cost barriers. (BUTTON) (BUTTON) (BUTTON) See Also [31]A Liberal and a Conservative on Their Communities Falling Behind IFRAME: [32]https://video-api.wsj.com/api-video/player/v3/iframe.html?guid=1210AF20-B743-4A2F-82CA-D7F21EC378E2&shar eDomain=http://www.marketwatch.com&clickForSound=true&autoplay=muted&site=video.marketwatch.com/inarticle&pl ayerid=mwmute Some caveats: There is certainly great value in developing a relationship with one lawyer over years, and some [33]have raised potential ethics issues with these companies, including potential conflicts if multiple parties involved in a dispute go to the same company for legal help. That said, a low cost, LegalShield and similar companies like Avvo and ARAG are working to put legal help in the hands of consumers. "There is a real access to justice problem," Roland Vogl, executive director at Stanford University's Law School said. "The law as it operates currently is really just a tool that the upper middle class and privileged class take advantage of -- services like this can help overcome that." These services represent a shift towards more do-it-yourself models in the legal world, said Chad Burton, chair of the law practice division's "Futures Initiative" at the American Bar Association. "Just about everyone can benefit from services like these," Burton said. "The average person has one legal event per year they could benefit from legal services, which means many people have much more than that." Websites like LegalZoom, which offer pre-made legal forms at set prices, have been rising in popularity. (Although [34]such online pro-forma legal documents obviously have their limitations.) LegalShield LegalShield offers unlimited legal advice and 24/7 emergency assistance starting at $15.95 per month for a family, including a primary account holder, spouse or partner, and dependents and $39 per month for a small business. The company, which is based in Oklahoma, pairs customers with a law firm it's contracted in their state of residence for specialized help with issues like letters and phone calls on their behalf, will preparation, and legal document review. For its 1.6 million users, landlord-tenant disputes comprise 8.7% of user cases, estate planning and traffic disputes each comprise 7% of LegalShield cases. Divorce, separation, adoption, and name changes are 5% of LegalShield's services and civil litigation 4.5%. If a customer's legal issue does not fall under the unlimited advice included in these plans, they can retain a lawyer at a discounted price through LegalShield. "So many people walk away from their rights because they can't afford it," said LegalShield CEO Jeff Bell."We believe the color of justice should not be green -- it should be equal for everybody.." ARAG Legal insurance provider [35]ARAG has been offering coverage through companies for more than 40 years. However, in the last two years, it has begun to offer individualized plans for a wide range of assistance similar to LegalShield, including contract disputes, document preparations, and calls on customers' behalf. The company is based in Dusseldorf, Germany where it was founded but has operations in 17 countries. ARAG's basic legal protection plan for individuals is $16.25 and its enhanced plan, which includes counseling on care giving needs, financial issues, and identity theft is $24.50 per month. Similar to a health insurance plan, ARAG has a deductible of $250 and pays attorney fees in full after the deductible is met. It functions more like an insurance plan than LegalShield and is regulated by insurance commissions nationally, said Dennis Healy, a member of the executive team at ARAG. "One of the biggest advantages is the ability to find an attorney in the area of law you need help with specifically," he said. "If you call on an attorney you will find a credentialed professional ARAG has determined should be in its network that will solve your problems quickly." That said, the concept of concierge legal services isn't new: many other lawy firms offer in-house services to employees as a part of standard benefits. Avvo Unlike ARAG and LegalShield, legal services company Avvo lets customers pay as they go with set-price rates. It charges $99 for a legal document review, $295 for a last will and testament, $399 for a lease agreement, and $995 filing for an uncontested divorce. Unlike LegalShield, which contracts one specific law firm for all issues, Avvo lets users review lawyers by expertise and choose. Chief Executive Officer Mark Britton said the company's goal is to connect users to the best lawyer for their case. "We operate from this fundamental ethos that lawyers solve many problems in our community," he said. "Our principal goal is putting people and lawyers together." It also allows users to ask questions on its website for free. For advice alone, however, it charges $39 per 15-minute session. Get a daily roundup of the top reads in personal finance delivered to your inbox. Subscribe to MarketWatch's free Personal Finance Daily newsletter. [36]Sign up here. IFRAME: [37]/newsletters/705 Also see: * [38]6 ways to speed up your Wi-Fi at home * [39]Here's how your finances will be impacted by climate change * [40]If you have one of these horrible passwords, change it now Kari Paul Kari Paul is a personal finance reporter based in New York. You can follow her on Twitter @kari_paul. We Want to Hear from You Join the conversation (BUTTON) Comment MarketWatch Partner Center * * * Most Popular * [INLINE] [41]There have been 47,220 gun incidents in the U.S. in 2018 -- and here they all are on one map * [INLINE] [42]Stocks could rally 20% after this bruising rout, says Guggenheim's Minerd -- after that, watch out * [INLINE] [43]Monday's nasty stock-market reversal is evidence that the worst is far from over for Wall Street * [INLINE] [44]As the housing market stagnates, American homeowners are staying put for the longest stretches ever * [INLINE] [45]Think investing technology has changed? 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