Q. What’s the difference between what you offer and what others offer?
A. Plenty. For starters,
• With FFLGuard, OUR CLIENTS HAVE LEGAL COUNSEL AT ALL TIMES. Our lawyers are involved in your business long before ATF becomes a problem, and our counsel uses FFLGuard-approved subject-matter experts and former ATF inspectors (our “Professionals”) to work at counsel’s direction. What “premium retailer memberships” for trade groups do is refer you to a set of former ATF employees for a consultation. No legal advice whatsoever, just “one man’s opinion.” Later, the trade group will provide another referral for a lawyer if you have an ATF problem, but you are provided absolutely ZERO legal support in-between. This creates the very “left-hand not knowing about the right-hand” problem that ATF battles each and every day… and a surefire way to end with a revoked FFL, whether or not the trade organization pays your lawyers or you do.
• The costs associated with FFLGuard are a direct result of capping legal fees in order to HAVE LEGAL COUNSEL AT ALL TIMES and to know what you’re paying for that privilege. FFLGuard lawyers work on a flat yearly fee, which delivers the same financial protection that a trade group referral would provide, but instead keeps counsel in the loop to keep you informed, advised, and protected every step of the way as you transfer firearms — not just when ATF is at your doorstep.
• Only the FFLGuard Program provides the protection of an attorney-client privilege to our relationship, whereas hiring a consulting contractor referred by a trade group provides NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT PROTECTION and leaves an unsuspecting FFL open to disclosure problems whether or not compliance issues are “fixed.”
• Other FFLGuard-like offerings come with a low-cost to steer you to them, but LEGAL COUNSEL only becomes available to you once the “horse has left the barn, the cat is out of the bag, and the bell has rung.” That’s too little, too late. Even then, no one can match the experience level of our lawyers, our subject matter experts, or our Professionals. We we the first to deliver legal and compliance related firearms services to FFL’s, and we have done this longer, with better results and more success, than anyone else in the marketplace. With about 500 years of ATF experience on staff, and the distinction of having the most battle-tested counsel, our track record of proven success dates back to 2008.
• Our proactive and gold-standard guidance in our Law Plus Guidelines™, as well as the real-time solutions from our HelpDesk and corresponding Clients-Only Website Library, keep clients out of harm’s way in a fashion that is above and beyond just “best practices” supported by the firearms industry. In the FFL compliance game, “best practices” can still result in a revoked FFL, but FFLGuard’s heightened “best-in-class” standard, which is one step up from “best practices,” is the only proven way to avoid a revocation catastrophe.
• Our focus is solely on legal and compliance services for FFLs, whereas others with part-time “legal and compliance service” offerings focus on this aspect of their operation only a mere fraction of the time. We, at FFLGuard, are single-minded and non-negotiable in our mission to service our clients individually, and not sacrifice their results for a political agenda or alternative motives.
Q. Can you better explain how the yearly fee for clients is apportioned within the Program?
A. Certainly. Out of the Yearly Fee paid by all clients, the a portion goes directly to the National Coordinating Counsel as his salary to run the FFLGuard Program. The remaining amount goes to pay one, dedicated team of firearms attorneys, subject matter experts, professionals, and administrative staff of on behalf of the Program, from an abstract “community chest” known internally as our “Dedicated Defense Fund.”
Q. If I am a client, what do I get for my Yearly Fee?
A. Without question, it affords you everything available in our Basic Services offering as a matter of course. And so long as you meet our 90 point requirement through compliance with our Law Plus Guidelines™ and our Additional Services, you will not have to pay for our help with an ATF compliance inspection, an ATF warning conference or revocation hearing, or the first 100 professional hours of service if you are sued by a plaintiff calling your business practices into question. If you don’t meet the 90 point threshold, that’s ok, too. We will ALWAYS represent our clients. We will just do so at 1/3 off our normal and customary rates — the very “normal and customary” rates that non-FFLGuard clients would pay for our services.
Q. Who decides if I’ve met my 90 point requirement?
A. While anyone associated with the Program will tally your points from the Law Plus Guidelines and Additional Services, it is the National Coordinating Counsel makes all final, non-appealable decisions. The “point plan” is not meant to be exclusionary, but quite the opposite. It is important that if your money may be helping pay for the legal services of another client, your money is going to someone who is worthy of it. That worthiness is measured in points. Remember, even if you don’t meet the points requirement, we will always represent FFLGuard clients who have paid the Yearly Fee, and do so at 1/3 less than our normal and customary rates.
Q. Do you accept everyone into the FFLGuard Program?
A. It depends on whether you are coming in HOT or COLD. If you are COLD, then you will be accepted without delay.
If you are coming in HOT, then we need to approve you as a “provisional client” after a review of your case, your operation, your ability to pay for our services, and your potential to meet Program requirements if we “save” your FFL. We also have a quota of total HOT cases we will take at any one time, which is 10% of our total client base.
Q. Have you ever “lost” a client or case?
A. That depends. Clients who came in COLD and actually followed our Law Plus Guidelines? No, never. Clients who came in HOT? Yes. We offer no guarantees to clients who join us HOT, as they have already “made their own bed” and we try to control the damage as best as possible. Clients who come in cold, well… we’re “making their bed” for them, and stand by our proactive measures and end results.
Q. How much does handing an ATF administrative action cost in legal fees and expenses?
A. That depends. If you are an existing FFLGuard client in good standing (meaning that you meet our 90 point requirement from the Law Plus Guidelines™ and Additional Services) then it would cost you NOTHING. ZERO. ZIP. NADA. You are fully backed by our Consulting Services Fund into which you’ve paid your Yearly Fee each year.
If you are not an existing FFLGuard client, then the total fees and costs could be anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000 no matter who represents you. The main factor usually depends on your legal team’s experience… if you engage a lawyer who is not from FFLGuard, then they usually end up calling us for help. As a result, you could end up paying us anyway!
So if you are not an existing FFLGuard client, and you come to FFLGuard HOT, we first need to decide to take your case. If we do, you are only accepted into our Program on a provisional basis, and we will reduce our normal and customary fees to handle your matter as a courtesy. We divide the “dollars and cents” part into phases:
Q. What if I don’t have the money? Can FFLGuard help me?
A. As far as clients coming in HOT, we would make significant financial concessions at Phase 3(b) if the matter was one that would have a wide-reaching effect on the FFLGuard client base. Otherwise, your payment of fees in Phases 1 and 2 are proof to us that you are serious about your FFL and your business. We aren’t interested in those who aren’t interested in their own well-being.
Q. Okay I get the money part, what do I really get beyond a specialist if I am in trouble one day?
Q. How do I know that by participating in FFLGuard, I’m not setting myself up to be scrutinized or undercut if I DON’T meet your Law Plus Guidelines “standard” (for lack of a better word)?
A. Good question. Because FFLGuard is a program run by a law firm (The Chiafullo Group, LLC), and not a club or group to whom you pay dues or a non-attorney independent contractor. Instead, by being part of FFLGuard, you are actively engaging a lawyer to represent your interests when you participate in our Program. As such, your relationship with FFLGuard is covered by the attorney/client privilege.
While this attorney/client privilege does NOT give you a shield to just break the law, it does protect you from disclosing what advice your attorneys, or your attorney’s agents, give you on how to run your business. You don’t have to disclose to anyone anything that you and your FFLGuard lawyer or representative talk about, nor produce any information you exchange with FFLGuard, if you choose. Ever. Whether on the witness stand, under oath, whatever… so long as you’re not doing anything illegal, which of course you aren’t, you are protected under the umbrella of the attorney/client privilege. You pay for that privilege as part of your Yearly Fee.