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April 01, 2016

Special Publications

The Best Places to Work in Direct Selling 2016 Honorees!

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the April 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Table of Contents


The picturesque glass-and-beige building atop a hill in Ada, Oklahoma, is more than a workplace—it’s a community. And one that Leslie Dickenson, Director of Associate Services at LegalShield, wishes she joined years earlier.

“ ‘We are here for you’ is the feeling that makes working here even better,” says Dickenson, a former nurse and mother of two. “We are all connected and it is not hard to ask for help.”

The family atmosphere at LegalShield is aligned with the firm’s core value to see the good in all people, says CEO Jeff Bell. “That’s what a family does. It always looks for the best in each other. In the workplace, family really translates into caring for and believing in each other,” Bell says. “When people do, they go the extra mile for the mutual success of the business.”

LegalShield connects individuals, families and business owners with a network of provider law firms who assist members with a variety of everyday legal issues. The goal of every employee is to protect people.

Jeannie Forneris, Director of Marketing Services, says the work family encompasses co-workers, sales associates, members and provider law firms. “In every avenue of the company we are fortunate to have the opportunity to do well by helping others,” Forneris says. “We are always working to do the best job we can for whichever audience we are working with at the time.”

When Dickenson joined LegalShield, she wanted a job where she could use and grow her skills, but also one where managers understand the demands faced by and flexibility needed by parents. What surprised her is how much value sales associates put in the services Dickenson and her colleagues provide to them. The relationship is one developed mostly by phone, but when those from the home office attend a convention or get to meet associates who visit corporate, “you can feel that connection,” Dickenson says.

“This has been the longest-held job I’ve ever had, and my time here has included several ‘firsts’: My first Christmas bonus, my first ‘good’ insurance, and my first real vacation time. I can’t imagine being anywhere else in the world right now.”

“They remember talking to us on the phone and are genuinely glad to meet us,” she says. “And that is the most rewarding benefit, to know that we did assist them and they did appreciate it.”

Company leaders make a point to invest in their people by providing stellar benefits and lots of recognition. Perks include an on-site cafeteria, fitness center, doctor’s office, prescription program and on-site dry cleaning service. The entire workforce is eligible for performance-based bonuses and employees can access 400 training courses for professional development.

Employees also receive legal and identity theft coverage and can take part in initiatives that reward them with cash and prizes for coming up with efficiencies in their own jobs and in the business, Bell says.

LegalShield also promotes fun programs around employee health and wellness, such as monthly Healthy Lifestyle Challenges and Lunch and Learn sessions about health risk factors. These efforts “make you feel you are special as a person and not just another worker,” says executive assistant Kristi Hudson.

“LegalShield is the best place I have ever worked, it’s not just a job, we are family with feelings, respect and love for one another. We’re here for each other and that’s what makes a company work and achieve goals.”

The benefits and initiatives also are paying dividends: In 2015, LegalShield employees lost 3,292 pounds and the company awarded more than $268,345 in bonuses. Bell says all of those numbers will grow in the coming year.

Employees say the open and flexible atmosphere encourages them to freely innovate and collaborate.

Software engineer Colton Nohelty joined LegalShield three years ago, when he was still in college. A four-month internship morphed into a full-time job. And six months ago, Nohelty moved with the company to work in the New York City office. “If you want to be heard, you can be heard and everything is open to change,” he says about the work environment.

Nohelty likens the New York office to a mix between a startup and an enterprise company. He sits across the desk from the head of mobile engineering, and whenever he has a concern the two quickly discuss options and solutions.

“I have been with this company for almost 10 years, and I really love working here. I enjoy working with my coworkers and my bosses. They really care and that makes a difference. My only regret is that I didn’t start to work here a lot sooner.”

“There are unbelievable growth opportunities here,” Nohelty says. “I’ve had the chance to push the limits for myself and to do things and change things on my own.”

Hudson seconds that belief. A former team member in tech support and network services, Hudson has worked at the legal services provider nearly six years, starting when she was in college. Hudson is no stranger to the firm—her father is a 20-year LegalShield veteran. Her husband, Jamie Hudson, works at LegalShield, too.

“You never feel like you are stuck. I have moved positions a few times and I always feel that when I have one job down I can find something new,” Hudson says.

What makes this happen is a management team that works closely with employees, noting their skills and asking often about their career aspirations. Managers find ways to create new opportunities for employees, which develops loyalty, Hudson says.

“You really do get to know the people here,” Hudson says. “Everyone is so down-to-earth and you see people outside of work and on the street and they are your family.”