Some lawyers argue that there are so many potential pitfalls in using commoditised online services that the customer should always seek legal advice. For example, Angela Davis of Nottingham law firm Berryman warns that DIY divorce websites could be a false economy (PDF): “In my view, there is no substitute for obtaining good quality legal advice, tailor-made to each individual’s particular requirements.”
At the same time Richard Susskind urges law firms to decompose their work and see which parts can’t be done more efficiently using technology. Though he focusses on BigLaw, his entreaty needs to be taken on board by firms of all sizes doing all types of work. It’s a matter of fact that standard wills, standard conveyances, standard divorces and many more upmarket legal processes are being delivered more efficiently with commoditised services. The argument is not whether or not these standard processes should be commoditised and sold, it is about how those commoditised processes are sold and how lawyers can best sell them together with their related (and often necessary) bespoke services.
It’s all very well to say that customers should always seek legal advice, but they will be attracted by the cheap and easy option which they find at the top of their Google results. If they are to be aware of the potential pitfalls in using some of those services without legal advice, short of more regulation, it’s up to lawyers to innovate and package and sell their services more effectively.