Given the alerts we’ve been sending out about the impending substantial price increase for the Law of Self Defense CONSULT Program on November 1 (that price jump happens THIS WEEK, folks!), as well as the Federal lawsuit recently filed against USCCA for allegedly failing to cover the self-defense legal expenses of one of their Platinum members, we’ve been getting a lot of inquiries along these lines:
“Andrew, what’s the real difference between your CONSULT Program and “self-defense insurance” providers like USCCA, CCW Safe, ACLDN?”
That’s a great question because there are definitely important differences that folks should be aware of.
For purposes of simplicity, I’m going to refer to those other providers, such as USCCA/CCW Safe/ACLDN as “self-defense insurance” providers. They do not, in fact, offer insurance in any technical sense (although they tend to be backed by insurance), but that’s simply how most people refer to them, so we’ll go with that label for purposes of this blog post. (To illustrate: CCW Safe labels itself accurately as a provider of “legal service coverage,” and explicitly does not characterize its offering as “self-defense insurance.”)
Generally, what those providers offer is to cover all or a large part of your legal expenses incurred when defending yourself against a use-of-force criminal charge—such as murder, manslaughter, aggravated battery, etc.—on the basis of the legal justification of self-defense. Those providers all vary in terms of the scope of their coverage, the conditions they apply, the exclusion that might preclude coverage, and so forth.
But that’s the general idea behind them—if you’re arguing self-defense at trial, they’re covering your legal expenses. Again, unless you’ve violated one of their conditions or triggered one of their exclusions, in which case your coverage is null and void.
The Law of Self Defense CONSULT Program is quite different, and not a replacement for any of those “self-defense insurance” providers.
What the CONSULT Program does is, first, guarantee my availability to consult on your legal defense in any self-defense case involving a use-of-force charge, and, second, to do so at a small fraction of what it usually costs to retain my services.
With regard to the first point, my availability, I’m often obliged to defer taking on client work because of other commitments—and, frankly, it’s often the case that client work is not the most profitable use of my time.
That’s not because I’m inexpensive—quite the contrary—but because of the intensity and effort and time required to fulfill a client whose case has been taken on. In effect, when we’re working on a client matter, everything else in the office pretty much shuts down.
In short, if I did nothing but client work, there would be no real “Law of Self Defense” educational and informational outreach work at all, we’d really just be a traditional law practice. And that’s not our mission.
CONSULT Program members, however, are guaranteed that we will, in fact, shut down all other operations to focus entirely on their case should they be involved in a use-of-force criminal proceeding in which they’re claiming self-defense.
With regard to the second point, the cost savings, outside the CONSULT Program the minimum cost to retain me to consult on a use-of-force case is $5,000, paid up-front before I can begin working at the case at all. Through the CONSULT Program we guarantee up to $10,000 in legal services—double what’s typically required, and available immediately—for a fraction of what even our minimum retainer costs for a legal consult. (You’re other legal costs, however, remain your own responsibility, hence the continuing role for providers like CCW Safe, USCCA, ACLDN, etc.)
In fact, we currently have in place a month-by-month option that locks in those guaranteed $10,000 in my personal legal services for less than $20 per month.
There’s another important difference between the CONSULT Program and providers such as USCCA, CCW Safe, ACLDN, etc., and one that may be more subtle—but also may be double-edged.
As already mentioned, all of those other providers impose certain conditions and exclusions on members’ access to their legal coverage benefits. And I want to make clear that there’s nothing at all wrong with any such conditions and exclusions, presuming of course that they are disclosed to prospective members up-front, before taking their money, so that people know what they are actually paying for every month.
For example, some “self-defense insurance” providers have as a condition of coverage that you not be intoxicated at the time you used force in self-defense. Under such a condition, even if your use of defensive force was entirely lawful, if you’d first had a couple of beers at your own backyard barbecue, they reserve the right to deny you coverage.
Others have as a condition that coverage of your legal expenses is excluded if the use-of-force was in the context of an act of domestic violence—in effect, they don’t wish to cover high-risk domestic violence situations. Under such a condition, if your use of force was against a stranger, you would be covered, but if exactly the same defensive scenario involved your live-in significant other, they reserve the right to deny you coverage.
Yet others simply have a blanket “we’ll cover you if WE think it looks like self-defense” policy. If you make a claim against their legal benefits, they reserve the right to review the facts of your case and make their own determination of whether they think it looks like self-defense. They reserve the right, entirely at their own discretion, to deny you member benefits if they decide, in their sole judgment, that your use-of-force doesn’t look like self-defense to them.
I want to emphasize again that none of those conditions or exclusions are in any way wrong or improper, so long as they are disclosed to prospective members up-front, so that people know what they are actually paying for every month.
The Law of Self Defense CONSULT Program, in contrast, imposes no such conditions or exclusions. If you are a CONSULT Program member, are charged with a use-of-force crime, and are arguing self-defense, you get all the benefits promised to CONSULT Program members. PERIOD.
Were you drunk? I don’t care. Where you involved in a domestic violence event? I don’t care. Does your use of force look like the opposite of self-defense. I don’t care. You still get our legal consult, as promised.
I mentioned earlier, however, that this can also be a double-edged sword.
How so? Because when I do a legal consult on a use-of-force case, I apply my legal expertise and abilities to provide the most competent and informed legal analysis of that case as possible. And that means I call the case, on the facts and law, as I see it.
I’ll present your lead counsel with both the most positive, favorable legal arguments in support of your claim of self-defense—based on the law and facts—and also the most negative, unfavorable legal arguments in support of your claim of self-defense. Why? Because it’s essential that your attorney know both where your claim of self-defense is most strong, and where it is most vulnerable.
If your use-of-force turns out to have been a hot mess that’s well outside the legal boundaries for the lawful use of defensive force, there could be a lot more negative in that consult report than positive. And that’s not on me, folks—that’s on you. Your conduct and decision-making led to those conclusions. (So, don’t do that. Know the law so you’re hard to convict.)
Shorter: You are not guaranteed to get a favorable consult. If your use-of-force was, in my professional judgment, outside the bounds of lawful self-defense, then that’s what my consult to your attorney is going to say.
If you as a CONSULT Program member lose your mind and decide to shoot up a school full of kids, get arrested, charged, and then demand the legal consult from the CONSULT Program to which you are entitled, you WILL get the promised consult.
You probably won’t like what it has to say, however.
Now, the good news for a defendant in such a case is that my consult is a legal work product commissioned by your lead counsel, and thus almost certainly falls under the umbrella of attorney-client privilege. In such a case, your attorney can keep a negative consult report to themselves. So, in that sense, a negative CONSULT report may not hurt you—but it sure won’t help you.
So, that’s the deal with our Law of Self Defense CONSULT Program, in a nutshell. If you’re a CONSULT Program member, you get our promised legal services, guaranteed, and without condition or exclusion, PERIOD. What you get, however, is not a white-wash of your use-of-force—you get my professional legal opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of your legal defense of self-defense, delivered to your attorney. How your attorney chooses to make use of our consult findings is then up to them.
Now, if you’ve made it all the way through that explanation, and the Law of Self Defense CONSULT Program is still something of interest, I would urge you to take a closer look and make a decision before this Friday.
Why? Because the CONSULT Program will experience a very substantial increase—effectively about a doubling!—in the cost of enrollment on Friday, November 1. This cost increase is directly a consequence for the high-demand for participation, meaning that we’re obliged to have available greater (and therefore more costly) resources in order to handle those greater numbers of members.
If you’re genuinely interested in becoming a CONSULT Program member, it would be silly to do so on Friday, November 1, at roughly double the cost you would have paid today, Monday, October 28.
You can learn more about the Law of Self Defense CONSULT Program, the options for becoming a member (including our new month-by-month option at less than $20 a month), all right here at:
In the meantime, remember:
You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.
Know the law so you’re hard to convict.
And make sure you have the resources you need to fight that legal battle.
Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC
Law of Self Defense CONSULT Program