Posted on 21.2.19
Senior partner and head of litigation Mark Deverell has written an article for The Times this week regarding the increase of ‘DIY Law’ where clients may see paying a solicitor for what appears to be little more than fancy paperwork may well seem like a waste of money.
Mark believes it should be imperative for lawyers to warn unqualified members of the public of the potential pitfalls in, say, template paperwork and online court actions. Not least because the long term cost can be high.
DIY legal services may seem attractive as they appear to simplify what are often complex, jargon-filled contracts and procedures – and without the cost of consulting a lawyer. At the heart of DIY law lies the template letter, a ready-to-go document that claims to provide the wording, and implicitly the protection, needed to proceed with a legal matter.
Mark states ‘Mistakes on forms can leave those who are already emotionally vulnerable embroiled in difficult financial arguments, lengthy delays and, in the end, higher tax or legal bills. And that’s aside from the stress and anguish of the emotional fall out.’
Within Mark’s practice area of litigation, people may think they can represent themselves after studying the process online, but if they find themselves struggling in court it will be too late to salvage their cause.
How can we dissuade clients from taking what appears to be a simple and cheaper option?
This is all about being fair and transparent with prospective clients states Mark. Clients need to be made to understand what work their particular case entails and what the cost is likely to be. A quote needs to come with an explanation of variables that might increase or decrease it. The client’s biggest fear is costs, so being clear at the outset is imperative.
There is also no virtual substitute for legal advice delivered by a real person, one with whom fears, concerns and the nuances of a particular case can be discussed. Clients would be hard pressed to find online services or ready-to-use packs that can offer empathy and emotional support.