Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C. having offices in Suffolk County, Nassau County, Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester and Manhattan, New York, is an "AV" rated law firm according to Martindale-Hubbell, with an extensive background in Prepaid and Group Legal Service Plans. We have pioneered the development of legal plans, provided legal services, designed legal plans and lectured extensively on the topic of group and pre-paid legal plans since 1979. We have the capacity to administer and provide legal services to large groups on a national level through our contractual relationships with law firms in every state who comprise our time tested National Referral Attorney Network. We have specifically provided legal and administrative services to New York State United Teachers Legal Plan, United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund Retiree Legal Plan, Public Employees Federation Legal Plan, United Teamsters Legal Fund, Nassau County Police Legal Plan, Hospital Association of New York, Laundry & Dry Cleaners Union, United Food and Commercial Workers, Catholic Health Services, American Benefit Systems, LegalShield, UAW Legal Plans, Legal Services of America Legal Plan, American Express Legal Plan, Nationwide Legal Services, etc.
Warren B. Feldman, the managing partner of the law firm of Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C. has established a national reputation as an innovator in the legal services field. He is routinely invited by the American Bar Association, American Prepaid Legal Institute and the New York State Bar Association to run seminars and deliver lectures on prepaid legal plans. He has served as President of the American Prepaid Legal Services Institute (1997-1998) which is primarily funded by the American Bar Association. He also has chaired the New York State Bar Association Committee on Group and Prepaid Legal Services (1994-1997) at the invitation of the President of the New York State Bar Association. He has established working relationships with many lawyers and legislators around the country who are involved with prepaid legal plans. The firm has been the subject of numerous articles involving the delivery and administration of innovative legal programs in publications and the television media, such as: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ABA Journal, Money and Business, Money Talk (CNBC), Live at Five (WNBC), Good Day New York, CNN, "Your Money".
The firm began in the mid seventies when it was founded by a retired F.B.I. Agent and a former Assistant District Attorney. In the early eighties, it became Burger, Kramer, Feldman & Kirschner, P.C. and it evolved soon thereafter to Feldman & Kramer, P.C. Since 1983, Mr. Feldman has been the managing partner of the firm. Herb Kramer is a partner whose legal expertise is focused on Estate, Probate, Wills, Trusts and Real Estate. Mr. Monaco is a partner with diverse experience in both criminal and civil matters as well as the day to day responsibility of firm operations. The firm primarily worked for public sector unions and in 1980 the firm designed and implemented a legal plan for the New York State United Teachers and we continue to provide services to that plan on a national basis to date.
We believe that the most prudent approach in creating a Legal Plan is to provide maximum benefits, encourage utilization, and provide efficient administration at a cost which will most effectively insure the qualitative delivery of those services while providing members with the substantial savings which can be derived from group negotiations and purchasing power. Our emphasis is on quality control at all levels, be it the delivery of services, or the supervision and administration of the Plan. We have achieved a harmonious and productive working relationship with all Plan sponsors.
By virtue of our experience, national reputation, and highly sophisticated systems, proprietary software, and procedures, we are able to contract with thousands of highly qualified referral attorneys in all parts of the U.S.A. who are able to provide quality legal services at substantially reduced rates, rather than at their usual and customary rates. Our delivery system has a proven track record of success. In New York State, for example, other entities are utilizing Feldman, Kramer & Monaco's delivery system and network of attorneys. This has largely occurred because of the exemplary reputation that Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C. has developed over the years.
We believe that the highest priority must be given to compliance with the appropriate standards of fiduciary responsibility. The Rules of Fiduciary Responsibility as set forth in Employees Retirement Income Security Act, which is the controlling Federal Legislation, while somewhat more restrictive than those imposed by State law, are appropriate guidelines and should be applied to all employee benefit plans. It is our approach to encourage an organization to comply with all ERISA guidelines even if the benefit is not employer-funded or is a public sector plan. This conservative approach will enhance the integrity of a Plan by insuring the strictest compliance with rules of fiduciary responsibility and will serve to protect the fiduciaries from potential liability.
It is the responsibility of the fiduciaries and the Administrator to make sure that the benefits that are being promised to members are being delivered qualitatively and at reasonable cost. There must be a high level of accountability to maximize that result. It is the generally accepted opinion that a "Closed Panel" delivery system (similar to the HMO structure) which provides for attorneys who are bound by contract to deliver the specified services is the preferred way to comply with ERISA guidelines.
We believe the advantages of the Closed Panel approach are numerous and include the ability to reduce the cost of the Plan substantially, as well as the ability to recommend specific attorneys who have expertise in various areas of law to members whose needs are concomitant with that particular attorney's area of expertise. In addition, by utilizing the Closed Panel approach, we are able to more effectively monitor both quality control and cost control, thereby providing a high level of accountability which serves to protect fiduciaries/trustees. This delivery method also maximizes client satisfaction because the referral attorneys provide personalized services to members which are evaluated by the office of the Director (i.e. Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C.) as well as Union representatives, if desired.
Members of Legal Plans receive personalized attention from Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C. The firm specializes in the delivery of legal services to Group and Prepaid Legal Plans. We understand the dynamics between the fund, union, trustees and the member. Unlike certain "private" law firms (i.e. non-specialist firms) or insurance company legal plans, our legal plan members will not be treated like "second-class" citizens because the private clientele represent a more profitable segment of the firm's client base or because no one is supervising or evaluating the actual delivery of legal services, as is frequently the case with insured legal plans.
There are many firms who believe that they can provide group legal services because they believe that there is no difference between a typical general practice and a group legal practice. Those firms don’t understand the politics of the relationship between the client, the attorney and the union. Other firms which focus their practice on labor law, for example, believe that they can effectively deliver group legal services as a supplement to their labor practice. It is our belief that a labor lawyer who represents a union or fund and simultaneously is under contract to perform the prepaid legal plan services has jeopardized the integrity of the fund, the union and the trustees by putting all parties in a conflict of interest dilemma. The fiduciary responsibility of the trustees is compromised and the appearance of impropriety which results from fund counsel recommending itself as group legal plan counsel causes a conflict of interest which can be detrimental to the trustees and the fund. Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C. does not perform any labor law services.
Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C., as well as the firms which are members of the participating Referral network have demonstrated their ability to accomplish a very high level of client satisfaction for many years. All of our referral law firms are required to carry legal malpractice coverage which is otherwise not required by State law. They also must be in good standing as defined by the Office of Court Administration and must have a clean record without any grievances or malpractice actions against them. If either of these unfortunate events develop, the referral attorneys are immediately suspended from the panel pending the outcome of the claim. Their standing on the Referral Panel is reviewed by our office every six months.
Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C. has made an effort to provide access to law firms which specialize in specific areas of law such as: Immigration, Estate Planning, Elder Law, Real Estate, Negligence, Landlord/Tenant Law, Criminal Defense, Matrimonial, Bankruptcy, Adoption, Civil Litigation, etc. Even if a matter is not covered by the Legal Plan, our firm will, where possible, refer the client to a law firm with expertise in the appropriate field of law and who often will provide discounted legal fees even for excluded matters. One of the significant advantages of a Closed Panel approach is that the client is guided to a firm which has demonstrated experience in a specific area of law. In the event that Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C. cannot handle a particular matter, every effort is made to provide the client with a law firm which is geographically convenient as well as having a background which is concomitant with the specific legal needs of the client. The team approach with many firms that have diverse locations and areas of expertise results in maximum benefits to the clients. If one law firm administers a legal plan, it is virtually impossible for that firm to provide the requisite varied services in diverse locations and diverse legal subject matters. That single law firm will rarely have access to a National panel of time tested and proven law firms to provide services. Our legal plan team concept fosters a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship between our firm and all the referral firms involved. That results in "red-carpet" treatment and qualitative legal services to the plan member. The law firms value their relationship with Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C. which has evolved during many years and therefore have a tendency to treat each legal plan client as if that client represented a major account to that firm, i.e. the "Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C. Legal Plan" account. The firms are desirous of maintaining their good standing with Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C. for obvious reasons. It has been said that "Nothing succeeds like success." The Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C. team has demonstrated its success over the decades and welcomes potential groups to talk with the leaders of organizations which have been served by the firm to get independent views of the integrity, reliability and resourcefulness which has been demonstrated by Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C.