Deciding when to call a lawyer is likely not how most pilots prefer to exercise their decision-making skills, but we’re here to help protect your certificates and provide any help we can under the Plan Description. The following tips and information will help you know what to expect when calling the Legal Services Plan (LSP).
Tip #1 There is no charge for calling into our office. If you have any questions about plan benefits, feel free to call in and we will be happy to explain them or answer questions about how the plan works. Don’t hesitate to call us at the first hint of any aviation-related legal troubles.
Tip #2. You can reach the Legal Services Plan by calling 1-800-872-2672, option #4. To help streamline the process, please try to have relevant paperwork and information on hand before you call. For example, if you’ve received a letter or email from FAA, or have a document you’d like reviewed, it’s helpful to have that available during the intake process. Be ready to send us a copy of those documents by email or fax, as we will usually need to look them over and include them in your confidential casefile.
Tip #3. You’ll initially be speaking with our administrative or paralegal staff, who will start by asking for your name and membership number to verify your Plan membership. In most cases, we must speak directly with you as the member who has the legal issue. Family and friends may offer to call in for you, but we are unable to give them confidential legal advice to pass on to you.
Tip #4. Our staff will ask for a brief description of your inquiry, such as whether you’re calling to consult about a possible pilot deviation, aircraft accident, aircraft transaction, or other aviation-related matter. Where applicable, our staff will ask for the aircraft registration number, whether you were flying solo, and the names of other pilots or owners involved. This information is necessary for us to check for potential conflicts of interest and is kept confidential.
Tip #5. For benefits that include an in-house consultation component, you may be scheduled to speak with one of our staff attorneys. The staff attorney will discuss the matter with you and provide a consultation. If your matter requires personal representation by an attorney, such as having someone contact the FAA on your behalf or represent you before an agency or tribunal, the staff attorney will begin the process to connect you with a local AOPA Panel Attorney.
Tip #6. Should referral to an attorney to personally represent you be appropriate, you will be given the name of at least one Panel Attorney in your area whom you may wish to consult; LSP provides a database of over 600 AOPA Panel Attorneys members can contact for personal representation. The next step is for you to reach out directly to the Panel Attorney of your choice. You’ll also be given a certificate of coverage for either a free 30-minute consultation, or for a block of time for matters specifically covered under the Plan Description. For covered matters, the certificate of coverage will allow the Panel Attorney working with you to bill AOPA directly up to the Plan limits. If you choose to work with a non-Panel Attorney, they will not be able to bill us directly, so our staff can provide reimbursement instructions.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to use your benefits under the Legal Services Plan. In any event, don’t hesitate to give us a call and we’ll help you navigate the process.