One of our Union-negotiated benefits for Municipal Employees’ Federation and Confidential Employees’ Organization is the Group Legal Services Plan.
It is a benefit provided by the City of San José and is overseen by MEF and CEO members.
Under the plan full-time employees and their immediate families can obtain limited free legal services for a variety of legal needs.
These include wills and trusts, family law matters, adoptions, guardianships, debtor/creditor and other consumer problems, tenant problems, and other civil matters. It also includes other legal services such as document preparation, negotiating, mediating, and appearing in court. There are some legal problems not covered by the plan, such as criminal defense, immigration, and employment problems. The amount of attorney time for these legal services is limited. The attorneys can be contacted directly for details.
The attorneys who have contracted with the plan to provide these legal services are Sally Nixon Cooperrider and Cathay Fulton Ericksen. You can schedule an appoint with the attorneys by calling them directly at (408) 287-7717.
THE 2017 GROUP LEGAL SERVICES PLAN
EMPLOYEES REPRESENTED BY MEF AND CEO
The Group Legal Services Plan provides free or low cost legal assistance (on private matters unrelated to your employment) to full-time employees of the City of San José classified within MEF and CEO. These bargaining groups are represented by AFSCME, Local 101. The Legal Trust Fund, which oversees the Plan, was negotiated out of collective bargaining between the Unions and the City. The Plan is administered by a Board of Trustees consisting of 3 employees appointed by MEF and 2 by CEO. The City of San José, under the Memorandum of Agreement with the Union, makes a monthly contribution to the Legal Trust Fund on behalf of all eligible beneficiaries.
The Board of Trustees has contracted with outside attorneys to provide the legal services. If you are an eligible Beneficiary of the Legal Trust Fund and would like to see an attorney, call the Law Office of Sally Cooperrider at 408-287-7717 ext. 12 or the Law Office of Cathay Ericksen at 408-287-7717 ext. 11 to verify your eligibility and schedule an appointment.
The Attorneys’ staff will verify your eligibility from a listing provided by the City. Your immediate family is also eligible, this includes your spouse or domestic partner, children 18 years and under who are residing with you, and children between the ages of 19-23 years who are dependents and full time students. This coverage cannot be extended to any other person. Should you leave City employment, transfer out of a covered unit or are otherwise taken off eligible payroll prior to using the legal services, it is your responsibility to inform the attorney of the termination date. Coverage only continues through the last month you were on City payroll in a covered unit.
$1,250 IN SERVICES
Eligible employees are entitled to legal services up to the maximum of $1,250 per employee’s family unit per year, from the Group Legal Services Plan attorneys based on their hourly rate of $225. Expenses beyond $1,250 for most matters are subject to individual fee arrangements made between attorney and client. (The Group Legal Services Plan attorneys are making available a reduced hourly rate of $225 for qualified beneficiaries of the Plan for services beyond the $1,250 entitlement.) The maximum amount is subject to change.
1. Personal injury/accident cases and other matters commonly handled on a contingency fee basis.
2. The Legal Trust Fund cannot provide legal service benefits for any employee, spouse or dependent in any action or proceeding in which the Trust, Union, contracting attorney’s or City of San José are a party.
3. The Group Legal Services Plan does not cover matters, actions, or proceedings involving employer-employee relations, patents, immigration, criminal and juvenile criminal matters and traffic court matters.
4. Payment of fines, penalties, judgments and litigation expenses which are not specifically covered are excluded, as are patent applications or proceedings, and immigration proceedings.
5. Plan benefits are not available to an employee’s parents or to a business in which employee and/or spouse has an ownership interest (including conduct of business relating to rental property).
Two one-hour consultations with the Group Legal Services Plan attorneys are available per year for which your benefit is charged $50 per consultation. The consultations can be for most legal matters and include, but are not limited to, the following:
Guardianship and Conservatorship
Small Claims Court
Purchase contract/Real Estate
The attorneys can prepare an employee’s individual will or reciprocal wills for employee and spouse once per year. Wills are billed against your annual benefit at $200 per simple will and $300 per pair of simple wills. For simple wills prepared in conjunction with a trust, the cost is $100 for a simple will or $200 for a pair of wills. For particularly complex willls, the attorneys will bill for extra drafting at their rate of $225 per hour, billed against your annual benefit.
In special cases, you may receive authorization from the Board of Trustees to see another attorney by contacting the Board at email@example.com or the Law Offices of Sally Cooperrider at 408-287-7717 ext. 12 or the Law Office of Cathay Ericksen at 408-287-7717 ext 11. Please contact the Board or Plan Attorneys for an application or for more information. Click here to download a fillable/savable outside attorney application form.
If you are unable to keep your appointment call your attorney and reschedule. Missed appointments or cancellations made later than one day prior are still billed and your annual benefit entitlement is debited $25. The appointment will also be credited as one of the two consultations appointments to which you are entitled to.
The Attorneys bill the Legal Trust Fund directly for the legal services covered by the Plan.
LEGAL SERVICE BEYOND PLAN COVERAGE LIMITS
If you should request legal assistance beyond what is covered and paid for by the Legal Trust Fund, your attorney will discuss with you the anticipated costs and payment procedures.
The legal service benefits as summarized above was adopted by the Board of Trustee’s for the 2017 calendar year (beginning January 1, 2017 and continuing through December 31, 2017). Copies of the adopted agreement for Group Legal Services Plan and the Trust Agreement that govern the Fund are available upon request.
Printable version of the 2017 Group Legal Services Plan.
LTF Amended and Restated Trust Agreement
For more information on various legal topics you can read any of the following articles by the LTF lawyers:
Child and Spousal Support
Co-Parenting Planning After Divorce or Partner Break-Up
Divorce, Separataion, and Annulment
Options for Resolving a Divorce Out of Court
Preparing for an Estate Planning Appointment
Foreclosures and Deficiency Judgments
Guardianships and Conservatorships
Rights and Obligations of Landlords and Tennants
Lemon Law & Warranties
Planning for Property Transfer on Your Death
Powers of Attorney and Advanced healthcare Directives
Understanding the Probate/Estate Administration Process
Real Estate Problems
Repossession of Vehicles
Same Sex Marriages Supreme Court Ruling
Small Claims Court
How do I use this resource?
You can contactl the law firm directly at 210 N. 4th St., San Jose or call at (408) 287-7717.
About Sally Cooperrider, one of the plan attorneys.
Sally Cooperrider has been practicing law and mediation in San Jose for over 20 years. One of her areas of focus is estate planning and also trust and estate administration after the death of a loved one. She also uses mediation and other processes to help couples and families resolve their divorce or estate disputes out of court. In addition to her own cases, she volunteers for the court in the Family Law Settlement Project. Sally is a member of Collaborative Practice Silicon Valley and the Association for Conflict Resolution. She is also a member of and has served on the Board of Trustees of the Santa Clara County Bar Association. Ms. Cooperrider was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She graduated from Santa Clara University Law School. She plays the flute, guitar, and ukulele.
Do the attorneys have a website so I can learn more about them?
Yes - www.cooperriderlaw.com and www.ericksenlaw.com.
Who managers the Legal Trust Fund?
The Legal Trust Fund Board oversees the fund and is composed of three members from MEF, two members from CEO, and one Administrator. Following are the current Board members:
Maxe Cendana (MEF), Chair
Jaime Fonseca (MEF), Secretary
Rebekah Bray (MEF), Treasurer
Stephanie Fong (CEO), Trustee
vacant (CEO), Trustee
Charles Allen (MEF Business Agent), Administrator
If you have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org