Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

BernieSez app offers a faster way for attorneys to connect with speeders

David Donovan//March 7, 2014

BernieSez app offers a faster way for attorneys to connect with speeders

David Donovan//March 7, 2014

The envelopes that deluge the mailbox of anyone who’s gotten a traffic ticket are a nuisance for both sides — phenomenally expensive for attorneys, and awkward for anyone trying to conceal a ticket from mom, dad or a spouse. They may be the next paper product made obsolete by the march of mobile technology if two Raleigh-based app makers can get their idea to catch forensics

The new website/mobile app BernieSez, which launched in November, allows leadfoots to upload of a photo of their ticket along with other pertinent details, and then participating attorneys can quote the fee they would charge to take the case. Users can then compare prices, read reviews and correspond with bidding attorneys before choosing one to handle their ticket. Clients use the service for free; attorneys will eventually have to pay for access.

Attorney Terence McEnally, who created the app along with software architect Jim Young, says he hopes the service will make customers more informed and reduce inefficiencies for both attorney and client.

“The crux of the app is matchmaking, and letting folks choose between attorney suitors,” McEnally said.

Currently, BernieSez (“Bernie” rhymes with “attorney,” you see) is running only in North Carolina, although McEnally and Young hope to someday expand to other states. They say there are about 70 attorneys registered to use the app, many of them in Wake County.

The creators demonstrated the currently running beta version of the app for Lawyers Weekly. Attorneys can search for the types of cases they’re looking for and see the users currently seeking an attorney. (See picture.) They can see how many other lawyers have bid on a case, but not which competitors have bid or the price that they’ve quoted.

App users see all the attorneys who have bid on their case, along with the quoted fees. (See picture.) An updated version scheduled to be released later this month will allow clients to pay their chosen attorney directly through the app.

Raleigh traffic attorney Lawrence Kissling signed up to participate in the beta version of the app in December. He said his experience with it so far had been positive and that had he landed a good number of clients by using it.

“I think it’s just another way for people to get good representation at a good price,” Kissling said. “It’s convenient for them.”

Kissling said that with the app there are times he has to correspond with the client to ask questions before he can give them a good consultation, but that it was little different than with clients who reply to his snail mail solicitations via email.

McEnally and Young envision that the app would mostly be used by people with traffic tickets and other low-level offenses. The business model is not without criticism, however. Users can choose whichever bidding lawyer they like, regardless of the quoted prices—but in commerce, money frequently talks.

McEnally said he’d heard criticism that the product might pare down the prices that attorneys can charge, but said that his app doesn’t set prices, rather it just facilitates market-making. He also noted that users will be able to read reviews of each attorney written by other clients who have used the app.

“I think consumers who are judging only based on price are not taking full advantage of the system,” McEnally said.

McEnally also said that the app could cut costs not just for clients, but also for attorneys, especially new ones. The current prevalence of attorneys soliciting clients via snail mail is neither economically efficient nor good for the environment, he said.

“Folks can get out there and do relatively well without paying for all the trappings,” McEnally said. “Cup of Joe can be an office. Subway can be an office. If overheard is cut down, it will enable folks to still make a good living.”

Attorneys interested in trying out the product can sign up at McEnally and Young said the app will remain free for attorneys until at least April 1.

Follow David Donovan on Twitter @NCLWDonovan

Top Legal News

See All Top Legal News


See All Commentary