Law firm and mental health provider establish partnership
A law firm has teamed up with a nonprofit mental health provider to offer legal services.
Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in Grand Rapids has long operated its Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, and Church Assistance Program, or CAP, which are available to its staff as well as businesses and other organizations from the community that pay a flat fee annually for membership.
The programs offers a variety of services: substance abuse assessments; ADHD; critical incident and crisis response; counseling and therapy; elder care consultation; employee counseling; leadership training and workshops; and other services.
Pine Rest has about 140 EAP and CAP members. The programs have grown 30 percent since last year.
“The Employee Assistance Program exists, because employers realize a healthy, non-distracted workforce is a more productive workforce and that employees are people first,” said Bob VandePol, executive director EAP/CAP, Pine Rest.
VandePol said one of the biggest distractions an employee can face is a legal issue, which is why Pine Rest has teamed up with the law firm Rhoades McKee in Grand Rapids.
“We are excited to offer an opportunity to our customers’ employees to touch base with a best-in-class law firm and to do so in a way that is affordable as well,” VandePol said.
He noted the partnership is unique, because Rhoades McKee is a local firm.
“We felt that it was important to go with someone that is well embedded and respected in the community,” VandePol said. “It’s consistent with the philosophy of our EAP/CAP — high touch, expert, local service. We have built a solid, trusting relationship with Rhoades McKee.”
Oftentimes, EAPs will partner with law firms located in another part of the country to provide legal assistance via phone.
That often leaves program members at a disadvantage, because the attorney doesn't have local awareness, which can be important in providing successful legal services and outcomes.
Tom Saxe, a Rhoades McKee attorney who will manage legal services offered through the partnership, said there are several benefits of having a local attorney available to EAP/CAP members, including the attorney-judge relationship, a better understanding of state-specific law and continued legal assistance if needed.
“A lot of times, decision making has to do with the judge, so it’s important to have that local connection,” Saxe said.
Through the partnership, EAP and CAP members are able to receive a free 30-minute phone consultation when facing a legal issue. The phone consultation will help the client understand some of the issues related to the legal matter, and the attorney will explain options and the costs associated with each and may also provide general advice.
Once retained, the client will receive a 20-percent discount off the attorney’s normal hourly rate for legal services.
Saxe said he expects the majority of inquiries will be related to family law issues, followed by estate planning questions.