The World Wide Web makes it extremely easy to do research and equip yourself with information on just about anything. The term that has been coined to refer to anyone who likes to take on the challenge of solving a problem by themselves, even when they are otherwise not trained to do so, is “Do It Yourself,” or DIY.
In terms of matters of the law, the concept of DIY is no different. More often than not, especially when it does not concern very complex matters, the average person is more likely to want to figure out how to solve a legal issue by themselves. There are also, of course, those who would rather not touch any legal matter even with the longest spoon.
Like everything in life, the concept of DIY Law both has its advantages and disadvantages.
In the old days, especially before the advent of the internet and the World Wide Web, the language and complexities of a legal matter were enough to put anyone off the idea of DIY Law. For one, back in the day, there wasn’t an abundance of the kinds and volume of information that exists today. Secondly, even though one could try to get information from family and friends who might have gone through a similar situation, there was still no guarantee about the accuracy of the information at your disposal.
In our 21st century world, the reverse is the case. And this is what gives rise to the popularity of DIY Law.
However, anyone who wants to engage in DIY Law should be aware of what the pros and cons are, as well as the potential consequences that come with the cons.
Pros of DIY Law
- Some people have a natural talent and tendency to see the whole picture through the smaller parts of the puzzle and enjoy researching case studies as they can indeed be fascinating and educational.
- You can do most of the paperwork yourself and then hand it over to a lawyer only for the final touches, thus saving you a lot of lawyers’ fees for preparation.
- It gives you a feeling of empowerment to be able to put together a contract or implement a process successfully based on your research.
- Doing DIY Law is “on-the-job training” so to speak, so it is very hands-on and put into practice very quickly, which also means that you will easily remember it and be able to guide someone else in a similar situation.
- When you have been using your DIY law for a few years and become quite adept at it, it is possible to create an LLC or any other business entity and start charging a consultation fee to help people with a similar problem, as long as you include a disclaimer that you are not a trained lawyer and it is just advice.
- You could even discover through DIY Law that you like law and go study it and have a successful career in law.
Cons of DIY Law
- Understanding certain legalese has been made easier thanks to the vast availability of various “legalese dictionaries” online, but oftentimes, the explanation that these dictionaries provide is still too complex for the average person, and they will still need someone to explain it as they would to a five-year-old child.
- The fact of the matter is that the law is and can be complex. Even in instances where you believe you understand what you are reading concerning a certain aspect of the law when it comes to the actual implementation of it, chances are that you may still fall short.
- The consequences of getting something wrong as it concerns the law can sometimes get you into trouble. Good examples might be in matters of a contractual nature that needs a trained business attorney or even matters of a criminal nature for which a criminal lawyer is best suited to handle.
- It is a time-consuming, research-intensive, laborious job. If you find it easy you are probably missing something. Another saying that comes to mind is “the devil is in the details”.
- A popular saying has it that experience is the best teacher. If you do not have access to people who have gone through the same issue as you are having and successfully or positively come out on the other side of the issue, then chances are that yours will be a trial by error situation and there will be no guarantees of what the outcome with be. However, given your law of experience, it is not impossible that the outcome might be a negative one.
It is understandable why many people might find the concept of DIY law appealing. Perhaps the number one reason for this might be the high cost of legal services.
Only after considering all the pros and cons of DIY law including any associated risks to you, should you make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed with using it. It is easy to see how an individual might be more inclined to undertake DIY law for certain less critical legal matters such as a business or contract matter, whereby they might forego hiring a local corporate lawyer, whereas, a criminal or family matter whereby what is at stake is the individual’s freedom or access to their children means that they wouldn’t want to take the risk and would rather pay the cost of hiring a lawyer.