One of Ross Kodner’s 30+ law and technology predictions for 2009 includes lawyers becoming so desperate for business that they start auctioning their services on eBay. Obviously, for lawyers to offer their services in this manner will reflect the increasing commoditization of their services. It is perhaps those lawyers engaged in high volume transactional work who will be the first to experiment. The real estate, wills and estate, simple incorporation, simple divorce, etc. lawyers will pitch their services to the highest bidder.
Yet resorting to eBay to sell one’s services raises two contentious issues. First, doing so may draw the ire of the Law Society of Upper Canada: Rule 3.02(3) of the Rules of Civil Procedure (which lawyers must adhere to) provides that a lawyer may advertise their fee if it is reasonably precise as to the service offered for each fee quoted and states whether other amounts (e.g. disbursements and taxes) will be charged in addition to the fee. Hence, advertising your fee with precision on eBay may be difficult as it is an auction-style of website service.
Second, eBay sellers receive feedback ratings and commentary from buyers. Lawyers may feel uncomfortable putting their credibility ‘out there’ and allowing disgruntled clients or winning bidders with negative experiences to leave neutral or negative feedback. At the end of the day, a lawyer’s credibility is all they have and anything that tarnishes that can effectively end their business.
All in all, I don’t see Ontario lawyers resorting to eBay in 2009 as a means of selling their services.