turnsignl founder jazz hampton

As organizations like the Legal Services Corporation and the World Justice Project are quantifying the United States’ significant justice gap, attorney Jazz Hampton has co-founded a company that seeks to bridge that gap by using technology to increase people’s access to lawyers.

Indeed, as its slogan declares, TurnSignl enables users of its app to virtually “put an attorney in the passenger seat.”

Hampton, who will join me for a fireside chat at the Commission on Professionalism’s Future Is Now: Legal Services conference on April 18 (register here), said many of TurnSignl’s users have never previously consulted with an attorney and are grateful for the ability to do so.

What is TurnSignl?

Launched in 2021, following the justice reform movements of 2020, the TurnSignl app allows drivers who are in traffic-related incidents to receive on-demand guidance from a lawyer in their jurisdiction through live video chat.

TurnSignl has also noted the opportunity its app creates for attorneys seeking to meet unmet legal needs in their communities.

“We empower attorneys to harness this unique offering to lead the change they’d like to see within their local communities and grow their practice in the process,” TurnSignl wrote.

Given this emphasis on leveraging technology to increase the accessibility of lawyers’ services at individuals’ points of need and its capacity to create opportunities for attorneys to attract and serve potential new clients, TurnSignl has been a standout in recent legal technology and justice innovation arenas.

This includes winning the ABA Techshow’s Startup Alley competition in 2022 and being featured in numerous news media outlets including PBS Newshour.

How does TurnSignl work?

During a traffic stop or accident, drivers who subscribe to the TurnSignl mobile app can connect with a lawyer in their jurisdiction through voice activation or by pressing a call button after opening the app.

They can then speak with a lawyer through live video chat during the incident. The driver’s camera records the interaction, which is saved in the subscriber’s personal cloud for future use if necessary.

The TurnSignl app is available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. This video from TurnSignl provides an overview of how it works.

A focus on de-escalation

TurnSignl’s mission is to “protect drivers’ civil rights, de-escalate roadside interactions, and ensure both drivers and law enforcement officers return home safely.”

As such, all attorneys who provide services through the app are required to participate in certified de-escalation training to facilitate effective communication during what can be relatively tense incidents.

Strategies that can be effective in de-escalating such situations include expressing empathy, using a calm voice, talking “with” not “at” the driver, reassuring the driver that the attorney is there to help, and establishing realistic expectations based on clear and concise explanations of the law and the driver’s legal rights.

Indeed, these techniques can be useful for all lawyers when communicating with clients who become agitated or emotional.

Because TurnSignl’s emphasis on safety extends to law enforcement officials, Hampton told FindLaw.com that TurnSignl “talked to over 20 police officers—from chiefs of police to boots-on-the-ground officers—to learn more about how we can ensure that when they see a TurnSignl bumper sticker, they will feel safer during that stop than any other they have that day.”

Hear from Hampton on April 18

To learn more about Hampton’s motivation for co-founding TurnSignl, techniques for de-escalating tense situations, and strategies for meeting unmet legal needs in your community, I invite you to attend our Future Is Now: Legal Services conference, which will be held virtually on Thursday, April 18, from noon – 4:30 p.m. CDT.

Additional sessions will explore (i) practical and ethical ways lawyers can utilize generative AI in their practices, (ii) how lawyers can proactively work to ensure their colleagues and other legal professionals are treated fairly and without bias, (iii) realistic approaches lawyers can employ when seeking to safeguard their mental health and well-being, and (iv) judges’ tips for lawyers who encounter incivility during legal proceedings and want to respond constructively without exacerbating the situation.

Four hours of CLE are available, including one hour of diversity and inclusion CLE and one hour of mental health and substance abuse CLE.

Click here to register; we hope you can join us!

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