You have to love the "locker room" banter you're starting to hear from handful of lawyers who are moonlighting as structured settlement experts. "Swinging it around"
to measure up as structured settlement experts by advertising the "size" of their experience as trial lawyers is one M.O. While I have encountered a few practicing lawyers who know quite a bit about structures, or have the potential, in my experience most lawyers will readily admit that they retain independent settlement consultants because they (lawyers) don't have the expertise, training, licensing or E&O in the area. It's a smart move. An oral surgeon may not be the best person to remove your balky gall bladder.
In this blog we've already skewered the use of absolutes such as "exclusive" and "unmatched". A few months ago I highlighted a structured settlement firm that had a pitiful credit score from Dun & Brad Street yet was still advertising "unmatched financial resources". That beleaguered firm has still not supplied proof to support its advertising claim.
So I come across the website of Structured Settlement Solutions, which is somehow related to the Fearer Nye and Chadwick law firm in Illinois. On a structured settlement website these guys advertise over 50,000 injury victims and 3,000 trials yada yada yawn. An excessive number of "notches on your bedpost" doesn't necessarily mean you're a good lover. What makes your 25 years practicing personal injury law and more relevant than in excess of 25 years in the financial services industry? Furthermore, to what extent is an "actively practicing personal injury lawyer" perceived as a potential business threat to the actively practicing personal injury lawyers he is targeting?The number of litigated cases has little to do with what you can do for plaintiffs as settlement planning consultants. It's a whole different ball game.
Welcome to the field fellas... now get with the program! I don't see anything on the company website that the "lead structure consultant" holds any professional designations of relevance to the financial or settlement planning profession such as CLU, ChFC, CFP, CSSC, CASL or RSP.
Structured Settlement Solutions also makes dubious claims that a plaintiff's structure firm benefits the plaintiff by:
Maximum rate of return (see bullet #3, these two points don't always go hand in hand, For example if you use a United States Treasury Structured Settlement you are probably interested in maximum safety and inflation protection provided by TIPS and may sacifice "maximum rate of return")
Protection from volatile markets (most structured settlements do that- variable stuctured settlements obviously do not)
Avoidance of unnecessary risk (that's why a plaintiff chooses to do a structure in the first place!)
Diversification of investments
There are certainly merits to a plaintiff or plaintiff attorney retaining his or her own settlement consultant, but there is nothing unique about what is being said.
The following appears in the FAQ on injurysettlementsolutions.com:
They Ask: "What are the advantages to using your company?
They claim: Our combination of personal injury law experience and structured settlement experience is unmatched in the industry".
Comment: Does the unmatched relate to personal injury law, structured settlement, both equally, or in combination. Lots of room for confusion and speculation for the consumer. Over reliant on its litigation experience, I'd submit that the firm has little experience in the structured settlement marketplace as a structured settlement producer or as a settlement planner. I haven't seen them at any industry meetings in the last 15 years or so.
They Ask: Given the volatility of the economy are structured settlements safe?
They Claim: History has shown that companies selling structured settlement products are extremely safe and secure. Although there is risk with every financial product, the risk to owners of these financial products is minimal.
Comment: Of course the owners of most structured settlements are qualified assignment companies not the plaintiffs who are structured settlement recipients, annuitants or payees.
They Ask: What states or jurisdictions does your company serve?
They Claim: "We provide services to the entire United States and all jurisdictions".
Comment: Preliminary research shows that the "lead structure consultant" holds an insurance license in Illinois since December 19, 2007, but DOES NOT hold a life insurance license in Connecticut (where i reside), or in Texas where he is a member of the bar. There is no pro hac vice for selling insurance products like structured settlement annuities. You need a professional license! On the other hand if you want to go to solicit for a "cash now pusher" you don't (for now).
The links page seems like it was bogarted from Structured Settlement Services. Same links, same order except for Lawyers Weekly USA. Further these folks must be too busy trying all those thousands of cases to pay attention, because the links page includes the same archaic reference "Association of Trial Lawyers of America" as Structured Settlement Services. How many years ago did that organization change its name to American Association for Justice?
Finally on the subject of attorney fee structures, the firm demonstrates that it is adept at the Middle English by using the achaic "payed". Exactly how many years to get all those notches on the legal bed post?
"and the use of proffitt thereof comings shalbe payed to my saied Sister Jone..." William Shakespeare 1616
I guess the moral of this story is "Don't FEARer the Reaper"!