The TEA Attorney Referral Program was established to assist members in getting legal advice on non-job-related issues. Don’t confuse this program with job-related problems that must be addressed through a TEA Legal Services request.
Who is eligible?
All active, educational support, or retired TEA members and, at the request of the member, his or her spouse and dependent children.
What services are covered and what do they cost?
Each eligible member is entitled to two free consultation sessions of up to 30 minutes each on any topic (except income tax preparation) during each year of the program. If a consultation leads to follow-up legal services of at least one billable hour, or equivalent services at a flat fee, it will not be counted as one of the consultations to which the member is entitled that year. If the member decides to use the services of a participating attorney, the TEA referral attorney’s regular fees will be discounted by 30 percent if the legal problem falls into one of the five “core areas” covered by the program. These areas and some examples of covered matters are:
- Real Estate – Purchase or sale for residential purposes, disputes with landowners, property line disputes, problems with zoning laws, or land use regulations.
- Wills and Estates – Preparation of wills, assistance with estate planning, representation of a member who is named executor or administrator of an estate, guardianship proceedings.
- Domestic Relations – Representation in proceedings for annulment, divorce, separation, alimony, custody, child support, guardianship, adoption, paternity, and name change.
- Consumer Relations – Disputes with creditors or finance agencies, proceedings for garnishments and attachments, disputes with retailers concerning defective merchandise.
- Traffic Violation – Defense of charges of operation under the influence, reckless driving, or other offenses involving potential loss of license, financial liability in excess of $50, or jail sentence.
A particular attorney’s fees will be 30 percent less than his or her regular rates for service in the five core areas, whether billing is on an hourly or a flat fee basis. (The discount does not apply to incidental fees and attorneys’ out-of-pocket expenses.)
Are there any legal problems that are not covered?
Almost any problem can be discussed with an attorney during the free advice and consultation sessions. Certain matters, however, are excluded from the 30 percent discount, including assistance with bankruptcies, preparation of federal tax returns, and defense of criminal violations (other than traffic).
Any matter in which the attorney was retained prior to participating in the program, or involving a member’s business dealings, is also excluded. The fee in the excluded matters would be determined by you and the attorney and may be higher than the program rates.
A participating attorney cannot represent you or any other TEA member under any arrangement if the adverse party is TEA, NEA, another NEA affiliate, a UniServ coordinator, or another NEA or TEA member. The one exception to this is that an attorney may represent you in a separation or divorce proceeding if your spouse is also a TEA/NEA member.
How do I contact an attorney?
The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the law firms participating in the program are available through your UniServ coordinator. After obtaining a list of attorneys in your area, you should always call an attorney’s office to arrange for your first appointment. When you contact one of these attorneys, tell the person you speak with that you are a TEA member, that you are calling regarding the TEA Attorney Referral Program, and that you would like to set up an appointment for your free 30-minute consultation. If necessary, a participating attorney may be available to meet with you evenings, weekends, or at other times outside your regular working hours. When you make your first visit to an attorney’s office you must present some evidence of TEA/NEA membership.
If there are any questions you want to ask before actually dealing with an attorney or if you have an out-of-state legal need, please contact your UniServ coordinator.