RALEIGH, N.C. – “I’m impressed, with my attorney Bernie.”

This is the first line of the jazz classic My Attorney Bernie by Dave Frishberg. It’s also the inspiration behind a new mobile app launched by lawyer-entrepreneur Terence McEnally.

The app – BernieSez – is a simple application for attorneys who handle traffic cases and other misdemeanor offenses. Clients log on, register and upload their tickets. Then the registered attorneys place bids to handle the clients’ cases. For attorneys, BernieSez can be a cheaper and more efficient way of getting clients.

Why make this app?

McEnally said the impetus was really just his own “steeping” in the lawyer culture for 20 years or so and being critical of how antiquated the profession is still today.

“There’s a lot of competition out there between lawyers and the price to ‘be seen’ is commensurately high,” he said. “Furthermore, even with all the competition, the advantages that one might usually expect would come to the consumer never really materialized, to my thinking. BernieSez is our attempt to fix some of that.”

Though he considered himself fairly tech savvy, McEnally soon realized that while he owned mobile devices, his technical fluency was limited to email and surfing the Web. He didn’t have the coding knowledge to build BernieSez, just the idea. Frustrated, McEnally approached an attorney friend who worked with entrepreneurs through CED and a series of connections led him to his future partner at BernieSez: Jim Young.

A year and five months of development, McEnally and Young launched BernieSez earlier this year.

“We’re not really sure how to make money on it yet, just really a labor of love,” McEnally said. “Sometimes you see things and really just want help people out … they’re inefficiencies in the system in both the consumer side and the attorney side. This app looks to fix the inefficiencies.”

BernieSez isn’t the Young’s first foray into the app world. His app Envirochain is available on Google Play and in the iTunes App store. It’s used to help environmental workers maintain chain of custody.

How does it work?

The app has been out since January and we’re past the beta period … the idea is proved and is useful. It borrows some good concepts from other successful internet sites (eBay, Uship, lending tree, Angie’s list and others). Consumers – either with the free Android and iPhone apps or with the web app – upload pics of their traffic citations (all the way up to more serious misdemeanor type cases actually), answer a couple basic “triage” questions, and voila, lawyers who participate on the site see the case info and offer their services in closed/sealed bid format (lawyers don’t know who the competitors are and don’t see the competitor’s bids, only the consumers).

The consumers get the bids transmitted to them in the app (web or mobile) and can then “vet” the lawyers by scrolling through the bids and taking a peek at the bio/rating of each lawyer. Once a choice is made, payment is via paypal or credit card. Throughout the process the consumer and lawyer remain in contact through a chat function in the app.

“We really think it’s a big time saver for folks since they need never “talk” to a lawyer (in most cases), and never have to go to an attorneys’ office,” McEnally said. “They also have to tell the story only one time.”

On the lawyer side of the equation, it really has the potential to be a “turn-key” mobile law office. Get out of law school, get a lap top, and there are the clients right “in the app”. No brick and mortar, no office to set up, just a lap top and internet connection.

Where can it go from here?

The effect of this is good for the law profession now (at least at the traffic ticket/misdemeanor level of play). Jobs are hard to come by and many folks are simply hanging out a shingle as they say. By keeping start-up costs low, BernieSez has the potential to be a good first step to the new law initiate and may even make turning a profit a less lofty goal.

The app is currently easing its way out of North Carolina with some cases now showing up in Virginia, South Carolina, and Maryland, and inquiries from interested consumers and lawyers from many other states, McEnally said.

“We are poised to start in any state that has an interest by simply changing some few items in the app to allow selection of that particular state,” McEnally closed. “Growth will be on an ad-hoc basis and will follow the pockets of interest as they pop up … and so far it’s been pretty good.“

The application currently is free to use online and available for download from your designated app provider.