New applicants to the Society of Settlement Planners must certify that they, individually will not participate or benefit in any way-whether directly or indirectly in finder's fees or payment of any form to a defendant, insurer, in-house agency of a defendant or insurer; defense attorney OR claimant's attorney, or any of their respective associations.
Download Society of Settlement Planners Membership (note emphasis added)
And I thought the Society of Settlement Planners was looking to attract new members instead of lose incumbents. But then, wait for it...
Doesn't that rule out at least three of the current officers of the SSP and decimate its incumbent directors and members who "benefit in any way"-whether directly or indirectly, and/or make "payment of any form" to trial lawyer associations in one or more asundry ways such as association sponsorships, "Friends of Eagle" website listings, site sponsoships, golf tournament sponsorships, exhibits at trial lawyer meetings, leaders forum suites, advertisements, theater tickets, raffle prizes, suites at baseball games, suites at football games, payments to TLA mortgages, payments to political candidates that help plaintiff lawyers, and memberships in Partnerships for Justice? This author has in his possession a copy of a message from a trial lawyer's association list serve email regarding a firm that one SSP member is the President of, where a trial lawyer went on a list serve and essentially solicited structured attorney fee business for them on the basis of the amount of contribution of the firm to that State's Partnership for Justice. Doesn't that look to you a whole lot like "benefiting in any way-whether directly or indirectly" from a "payment in any form"?
The SSP professional membership application has been craftily worded to attempt to effect the maximum "wiggle room". by saying "My membership application is an individual and not as a representative of my employer; firm or brokerage with which I have a contractual relationship. It shall not be presumed or inferred by this organization that my acceptance of the Mission statement as my personal belief is necessarily the position of my employer, firm or contractual brokerage. I am also free to reject as my personal belief the terms of any resolution adopted by this organization that is not incorporated in the Mission Statement".
Unfortunately if one is to read the literal meaning of what the SSP themselves placed into circulation, such wiggle room surely cannot be granted to those who are owners and principals in firms. How can one be excused just because the name on the check is an entity in which you have ownership and rather than you personally? It's a credibility killer for the Society to be sure.
Yet when it comes to factoring, all bets appear to be off. While, the Society of Settlement Planners, to its credit, includes in its Standards of Professional Conduct for Settlement Planners adopted March 7 2008 [at Rule 9 (c)(2)]Download SSP_SPC, that a settlement planner may accept an engagement to provide advice and assistance in connection with a structured settlement factoring transaction "provided he/she confirms in writing the existence of and the basis or rate for determining any compensation to be paid to the settlement planner for providing such services", such payments have been proven to come out of the gross amount to be paid to a selling structured settlement annuitant. Moreover, a Director of the SSP who is the principal in a factoring company not so long ago published a missive defending the practice of making such payments (to settlement planners, who it was once alleged in a publication by the Director asked for them) as ostensibly being in the selling payee's best interest.
The message is, if you you want to grow your organization and take it from "the plateau" to the next level, don't insult the intelligience of those you are trying to recruit as members.
That being said, the SSP is doing a few things right which will be covered in another post.