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Legal Shield MLM Compensation Plan Review

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Introduction to Legal Shield MLM Compensation Plan

Welcome back to Notebook Crazy, as we greet another day of my quest to review every multilevel marketing (MLM) business opportunity.  If you have been following this site, you know the extent to which I have garlic in my soul toward nutraceuticals, so it is with great joy that I announce to you that today is the day of my Legal Shield review.  To celebrate, I did research for this Legal Shield Review by reading about some of the most frivolous lawsuits in history, as well as some lawsuits that were not nearly as frivolous as the media made them out to be.

Unless you are so young that you have been surrounded your whole life by devices that know you well enough to only tell you the news that you want to hear, you have probably heard of Stella Liebeck, the woman who ended up in a legal battle with McDonald’s after she was injured by spilling hot McDonald’s coffee on her lap.  That case has practically become the poster child for frivolous lawsuits, but there are a lot of details that the urban legend version of the story.  Liebeck did not open the cup while driving.  The car was parked, and she was in the passenger seat, while her grandson was in the driver’s seat.  The coffee was 190 degrees Fahrenheit, just a few degrees below boiling, and Liebeck suffered third degree burns on six percent of her body, mostly on her thighs.  She initially only wanted McDonald’s to pay for her medical expenses; because of the severity of the burns, she required skin grafts.  In the end, the court reduced the settlement amount by 20% because it determined that Liebeck was 20% at fault for the incident (meaning that it is slightly dangerous to open a cup of hot coffee while sitting in a parked car).  The worst part, though, is that now, more than 20 years after Liebeck’s case first went to court, McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants and coffee shops still keep their coffee at 190 degrees.  In fact, there have been similar lawsuits by other people who were burned by hot drinks, including a woman who suffered burns from tea at Starbucks.

Some frivolous lawsuits, however, are truly frivolous.  Allen Heckard of Portland, Oregon sued Nike in 2006 for compensation for the hardships he has suffered for being mistaken for basketball player Michael Jordan.  By Heckard’s logic, it was Nike’s fault for attracting so much attention to a face that looked so much like his.  He dropped the suit before a ruling could be issued.

In 1991, Richard Overton sued Budweiser because of what he considered to be the false promises in Bud Light beer commercials.  Specifically, he had bought Bud Light in the hopes that he would find companionship with a woman, but when that did not happen the way that it had expected him to, he decided to take Budweiser to task for pulling a fast one on him.  Overton did not win his case, but perhaps Budweiser learned not to assume that people would not take the beer commercials literally when they showed that beer would bring you fun and popularity.  It is no surprise, then, that, for most of the rest of the 1990s, Budweiser commercials depicted frogs on lily pads croaking various syllables of the beer’s name.  That seemed like a pretty safe bet.  Indeed, if you drink beer outdoors in some parts of the United States, you have a fairly good chance of hearing frogs croaking, and if you are drunk enough, it really does sound like “Budweiser.”

The 1990s were in fact the Golden Age of frivolous lawsuits.  (It is too easy to remember them as the time when it was possible to write your thoughts about rock music online without the world sticking a silly label like “blog” on your project, but that is another day.  In the 90s, “blog” was what it sounded like the frogs were saying when you were too drunk even to hear the word “Budweiser” in their evening song.)  In 1995, Robert Lee Brock, who was serving a prison sentence, sued himself for $5 million for violating his own civil rights when under the influence of alcohol.  By Brock’s logic, it was the State that should pay the damages, since Brock was in state custody.

My other favorite frivolous lawsuit comes from MLM Valhalla itself, Florida.  Cleanthi Peters sued the Universal Studios theme park because a Halloween haunted house at the park scared her too much.  In the haunted house, an actor dressed as Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies chased her while brandishing a chainsaw, scaring the daylights out of her.  She tripped and fell while running away from Leatherface, but she was not seriously injured; the lawsuit was for emotional pain and suffering, that is, for fear.  I don’t deny that haunted houses can be scary.  (When we went to a haunted house when my youngest brother Bryce was about four, he thought the ghosts and goblins and monsters were kind of cool, but the poem at the end of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” scared the dickens out of him.  He has spent the past 25 years trying to live it down, trying to prove to my brother Brian and me that there is absolutely no work of music or cinema that can frighten him, but that is a story for another day.)

Frivolous lawsuits are a fun subject for a lazy afternoon of blog surfing or a drunken late night BS session, but if you have ever been involved in a real court case, regardless of whether you were the plaintiff or the defendant, it is an experience as scary as any haunted house, mostly for financial reasons.  Hiring a lawyer is one of the most expensive things ever.  The only reason someone would do it is because, in the long run, it would be even more costly, in terms of money or non-financial consequences, to let the other person get away with what they did, if you are the plaintiff, or, if you are the defendant, not to clear your name.  Almost the only other thing that comes close is medical bills.  You only get expensive medical treatments I you would be much worse off by not getting them.  You probably know someone who had to spend their life’s savings on an emergency appendectomy or someone who is still making payments on the treatment they received for their kidney stones years ago.  While medical bills can still make a dent in your finances even if you have health insurance, having health insurance certainly softens the blow.  Imagine if there were a service where you could pay a yearly fee in order to get a wide range of legal services at a sharply discounted rate.  There is, and it is Legal Shield, the subject of this, my Legal Shield review.

Legal Shield: The Company and Its Products

legalshield

Legal Shield was founded in Oklahoma in 1969.  Its founder, Harland Stonecipher, got the idea to found the company after his legal fees for defending himself in court after a motor vehicle accident depleted his life savings.  The company was originally called Sportsman’s Motor Club and only covered legal expenses related to driving, but it eventually expanded its services and changed its name first to Pre-Paid Legal and eventually to Legal Shield.  In 1983, the company began using an MLM business model to sell Legal Shield memberships.  The company advertises its services on the platform that a year of Legal Shield membership costs about as much as a single hour of consultation with a lawyer, meaning that, if you use its services at all, you will get a good return on your investment.  Legal Shield offers memberships covering legal services for individuals as well as for small businesses.  The legal services it provides include everything from writing wills and living wills to legal defense in traffic court.  When an individual signs up for a Legal Shield membership, not only is the individual eligible for the covered legal services, but his or her spouse and children (until the children reach a certain age) are also covered under the membership.

The Legal Shield Compensation Plan

The Legal Shield compensation plan is very complicated, even by MLM compensation plan standards.  Since the only product you can sell is a Legal Shield membership, which is an intangible product, so the good news is that there is no autoship, you cannot end up with a basement full of the Legal Shield equivalent of fungus coffee.  The bad news is that there is a very complicated system of who receives what sort of commissions on which sales, and there is a breakaway system similar to the stair-step breakaway systems popular with the MLM companies that deal in cosmetics.  The leadership levels are Associate, Senior Associate, Manager, Senior Manager, Director, Senior Director, and Executive Director, which are about as boring as MLM leadership levels can be.  They are no more interesting than the position titles at an actual law firm.  There are also Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels, as well as something called the Mama Bonus (this is the first time I have heard of one in all my MLM reviews), but the Legal Shield compensation plan published about them online says so little about them that I honestly cannot figure out what they are.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages

  • There are no nutraceuticals, which means that there is no autoship, which means that Legal Shield most certainly will not be to blame for the clutter in your basement. (Therefore, if you want to sue the MLM industry for contributing to your hoarding syndrome, you cannot add Legal Shield as a defendant.)
  • A service that makes legal services like traffic court defenseless expensive is actually useful. It is also a lot more unique than a lot of the MLM business opportunities out there.

Disadvantages

  • Even if I could make heads or tails of the Legal Shield compensation plan, it involves breakaway, which is my third least favorite part of the MLM industry. The only things in the MLM industry which I hold in lower esteem are nutraceuticals (barf) and MLM home sales parties (quadruple diamond barf).
  • Your chances of making money selling Legal Shield memberships are very slim, as slim as all those copycat nutraceuticals out there claim that they will make you.

Conclusion

Legal Shield is a really good idea for a company.  I am almost surprised that is it has not received more publicity than it has and that copycat companies have not sprung up everywhere.  (This fact further increases my angry toward the nutraceuticals.  Why do we need 30 different super-fruit drinks and only one Legal Shield?)  In fact, if someone else tries to copyright the phrase “quadruple crown diamond barf”, I just may buy myself a Legal Shield membership so that I can sue them for all they’re worth.

This does not change the fact that the Legal Shield business opportunity is a lousy MLM business opportunity.  MLM business opportunities where you sell memberships to something just don’t work.  People don’t want to pay for something they can’t see and touch.  An automatic charge on your credit card for an invisible product does not make you feel that you have gotten your fix for shopping, no matter how useful that thing is.  (No one ever uses “health insurance” and “retail therapy” in the same sentence, and if they do happen to use them together in the search bar of Google, I am willing to bet that Google will take them right here to Notebook Crazy.)  There is a reason that the Girl Scouts sell cookies and not the possibility of cookies.

Can you guess my favorite flavor of Girl Scout cookie?  I promise not to sue you if you guess wrong.  Schedule a call with me, and I will share a lot more valuable information with you than just the possibility of Girl Scout cookies.

 

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