I was reading at a fairly innocuous post on Lawyers.com today, titled "The Advantages of Selling Your Own Home", and noted the DIY nature of the topic. The coverage was fair; comparing the pluses and minuses of selling your own home, and few would likely find it controversial. I can see how many realtors would even tolerate it, as it describes a small section of the marketplace; and the numbers don't lie — few people clearly have the time or savvy to sell their own home.
However, I would say this: if this was my site, I wouldn't have let that topic would go live. Partly because of professional courtesy, and partly because of the uneven nature of the coverage. It seems inconsistent to ask people to consider the virtues of DIY real estate services, and then trail the piece off advising readers to "contact a residential real estate lawyer". Either you give credence to value provided by those that deliver professional services, or you don't.
In our never ending pursuit to cut costs, a lot of us lose sight of valuing people's time. It's an important consideration, even in the face of a down economy, with numerous downward pressures on the price of human services. And it's a lesson that goes two-fold for anyone that sells professional services. As routine tasks formerly conducted by professionals are increasingly replaced by faceless 'solutions', the drag on the value of human service is already there.
So it stands to reason, any lawyer who advocates for DIY solutions in professions such as real estate or accounting, is destined to receive similar treatment from those professionals in return. A little mutual respect is not just desirable, but necessary. Right?
Despite what I do for a living, I don't believe that 'online services' are destined to replace 'professional services'. There's considerable room in the ecosystem for everyone. But the competition provided by these solutions requires a very human response from professionals. There are many aspects to this, but one of the critical ways lawyers can protect their turf is to nurture existing professional relationships. Advocating for DIY solutions in other industries isn't going to win you any friends.