The age of prepaid legal services is upon us. Bar associations throughout the country are planning and organizing bar-sponsored programs of legal insurance. Labor unions and other associations have formed, or are forming, various group legal service arrangements. In general, the organized bar favors the so-called "open panel" system for the delivery of prepaid legal services to the middle class. The open panel is essentially a fee-for-service program of legal insurance. Organized labor, as well as other influential spokes-men, support "closed panel" arrangements, whereby a group or asso- ciation of any type retains either a private law firm or establishes its own law firm to serve its members' needs for particular legal services. The question of which system will best serve the needs of that broad mass of persons defined as "middle class," is a subject of sharp debate between attorneys and laymen alike. This article examines the recent history of the prepaid movement, focuses on the respective arguments favoring both the open and the closed panel, and concludes on a cautionary note as to the paucity of research sub-stantiating and defining the specific legal needs of the diverse sub-groupings constituting the middle class, while warning of the dangers inherent in viewing prepaid services as a singular solution for the fulfillment of these needs.
William Martin Greene,
Prepaid Legal Services: More than an Open and Closed Case,
22 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol22/iss3/5