Happy 10th Birthday to the Network
by Marty Hayes, J.D.
This month we celebrate the tenth year of the Network’s existence. It all started with an idea and a few precious dollars out of the pockets of our Vice President Vincent Shuck, Gila and I, along with the very much appreciated support of Mas Ayoob, Tom Givens, John Farnam and the late Jim Cirillo, all who embraced the concept of the Network and signed on to the advisory board when it was launched. (Unfortunately, Jim passed away unexpectedly before seeing the Network born, but I think he is proud of us nonetheless).
For those first few years, things were pretty lean, but we made a commitment not to borrow money to promote the Network, but instead, use the most powerful advertising known to man, relying on word of mouth, to get out the message about the Network. So, instead of going into debt to promote, I reached out to about a hundred of my friends, colleagues and acquaintances in the firearms training industry to help spread the word, and the Network Affiliate Instructor program was formed: Instructors throughout the nation, recommending the Network to their students.
We also received some great initial free advertising and endorsements, and our fledgling organization started to take off. With the skeletal structure of the Network in place, we started getting membership signups and we started putting 20% of the proceeds into a separate bank account. I was very happy when we reached $5,000 in the Legal Defense Fund, because for the first time, I knew we could send some money to an attorney for the representation of a member after self defense.
Soon, we had $50,000 in the Legal Defense Fund, and in 2011 and 2012 a couple of members requested assistance, which we funded out of that $50k. Fast forward to the present, for our current track record: We have–
- Funded the complete legal defense for 15 Network members, to the tune of $210,000.
- Charges against a number of those members were either dropped, or charges were never filed or member accepted a plea to a lesser charge.
- To date, a Network member has never had to fight prosecution in court.
- Built the Legal Defense Fund to over 1.2 million dollars.
- Built the membership to over 15,000 dedicated members.
- Produced and distributed eight educational DVDs to our members, with two more still in the works.
- Built a network of over 400 affiliated attorneys.
Frequently, people who are thinking about joining an “after self-defense” plan call and ask how we differ from the other plans. First, I tell them we are not selling insurance. Unlike insurance, we don’t reimburse you for your legal fees after you win an acquittal or get charges dropped. We provide the funding for your legal defense of self defense up front, when you need the legal and monetary help.
Then I explain to the caller that we are not a pre-paid legal or legal services scheme. At the Network, you can choose the attorney you want to represent you. At the Network, you don’t have to settle for an attorney with whom you are not comfortable. People tend to not understand that attorneys ARE NOT FUNGIBLE, meaning you cannot just substitute one lawyer for another and expect the same level of skill, competence or service. If you are a member in the Network, you have the luxury of choosing your attorney for yourself.
To me, that is a huge advantage, and since it is the only way I personally want to go, it is the way the Network operates.
As a result, the Network is stronger than ever, we have lots of money set aside for our members’ legal defense, and we continue to be the leader in innovation and self-defense expertise. For proof, just look at the back issues of this online journal. If that doesn’t convince you that we know the self-defense legal field, then I guess nothing will.
The charts illustrate how a timely idea can grow from nothing into a full-fledged service. In comparing the charts, one can see they do not follow each other exactly. This is due to the Network starting to pay out benefits to members, so the Legal Defense Fund did not rise as quickly as membership back in 2011 through 2013.
So, where do we go from here? The Network continues to grow and evolve. I predict that our next business move will rock the self-defense aftermath market. We still have a lot of details and preparatory steps to work out, so disclosing anything now would be premature. I’m hoping to announce the next phase of our development within a few months, and much as I’d like to lay it all out, for now, we must keep the details private. Keep your membership up to date (don’t let your membership expire or you will miss out on a great opportunity, folks).
Thank you to all our current members, for believing in us and for supporting the Network.
To read more of this month's journal, please click here.