The newly established collective of attorneys see students as important client base.
By Michael Menendez
As a college student, there never seems to be enough money. How could there be? With everything from school fees to phone bills, students are constantly scrambling to make enough to get by. Then, without notice, something terrible happens. On top of all the bills, you get hit with a traffic ticket. $200 dollars that you simply do not have.
How can such a fiasco be dealt with? Most of the time, it’s simply tossed to the side. “I’ll just pay it… better than having to go to court and pay a lawyer,” they may think. Now, though, there is another way.
The Traffic Knights are here to help. With President Charity Joy Tonelli and Vice President Jacob V. Stuart, Jr. of The Traffic Knights, P.A., along with their team of ten (10) plus other attorneys, Traffic Knights provides a standing fight against traffic tickets at a fair price for anyone, but even more so for students – who receive a 10 percent discount for both civil traffic and criminal cases.
“We like to give students a discount because they’re young, likely working, going to school, and financially… it’s a challenge. We also give military the same discount as a big thank you for the service they provide for our country,” says Tonelli.
Previously, the attorneys that are behind Traffic Knights were working as individual criminal defense attorneys. However, they had a disproportionate client base that came to them saying they needed traffic defense, both criminal and civil. That is when the idea for The Traffic Knights was conceived.
In the past year alone, over 80% of tickets given to Central Floridians were settled without legal representation. The cases were either paid in full, resulting in an adjudication of guilt, points placed on their drivers licenses, and increased insurance premiums or resulted in driving schools, court appearances, additional fees, and suspended licenses.
“The old model of law isn’t applicable anymore,” said Stuart, “we want to produce a quality product people can afford.”
“With a service model that is based online and brand awareness established through social media The Traffic Knights provide a lower overhead to service clients at an affordable rate compared to a standard brick and mortar law firm” said Tonelli.
Although their home base is in Central Florida they have already moved to other counties and will be serving the entire state of Florida in the very near future. The Traffic Knights are looking to further build alliances with attorneys across the state and pool resources to advertise digitally and through guerrilla marketing.
“Attorneys are just bad at marketing in general,” says Stuart, “so we have spent a considerable amount of time focused on promoting the firm through digital media”
“We choose not to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in television or radio advertising like some of the larger firms, but we are definitely utilizing online platforms to get the message out,” said Stuart. The Traffic Knights believe they can change the landscape of law locally and throughout the state beginning with the implementation of a new platform for communication to potential clients, pending approval from the Florida Bar.
The Central Florida community is serving as the main testing ground for the online service, which founder Charity Tonelli said has been very successful.
“We have only really been marketing ourselves to the community for six weeks now and the client base we have established is increasing substantially every day. We’ve already resolved some of our cases – garnering positive feedback from our clients.”
In the case of the Traffic Knights, if they can’t get the results that they guarantee on the initial phone call with a potential civil traffic client, then they refund their legal fee. The Florida Bar has very strict rules on advertising so there are certain guarantees that can’t be made. Most people, however, receive some form of a guarantee.
“In the next 15 years, Florida as a state will go from 20 million to 26 million, and of those six million, five will be in the I-4 corridor. So Central Florida and East Orlando in particular is rapidly growing, said Stuart. “Utilizing Facebook and social media in a meaningful way is crucial and most lawyers don’t do it.”
“Do yourself a favor and call an attorney. Don’t throw your hard earned money down the drain, understand your rights, and let us fight for you,” Tonelli concluded.
Michael Menendez is a student at the University of Central Florida, where he majors in journalism.