Companies with small human-resources departments are finding it difficult to keep abreast of complex legal and technical developments. These two services allow you to tap experts for advice:

1. Human Resource Management Systems (800-301-9889), in Glenview, Ill., offers the Pro-to-Call hot line. For $1,800 a year, subscribers get 90 minutes of telephone consulting per quarter. (Additional time is $150 an hour, prorated to five-minute intervals.) Client Sally Warren, president of HQ Business Centers, in Chicago, says, "If I had a person of the same caliber on staff, it would cost me more than $60,000 a year. We save money and limit our liabilities."

2. Stephenson & Brook (617-631-0636), based in Marblehead, Mass., offers a similar service for $150 a month for companies with fewer than 50 employees, and $200 a month for larger companies. That fee entitles you to unlimited advice. Although the firm specializes in workers' compensation issues, hot-line staffers will address other human-resources topics as well. -- Robina A. Gangemi

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