I really don't remember what the commercial was trying to sell, but it was pretty funny. The reason it was funny was because of the simple absurdity of the idea of do-it-yourself surgery.
I wish the same were true in my area. Unfortunately, do-it-yourself law is alive and well. There seem to be an especially large number of do-it-yourselfers in the machinery business (perhaps it is the urge to tinker), but there are plenty in other walks of life as well.
Do-it-yourselfers tend to work in two ways. First, they may conclude that this law stuff is not so hard and may simply draft a contract or other legal document on their own. Or, they may pull a form off the Internet. Internet forms may either be very bad generally, or totally unsuited to the transaction at hand. The result is usually, at best, a very unclear document. At worst, the document may be completely unenforceable.
Second, there are clients who like leftovers. They may have paid me or another lawyer to draft a non-disclosure agreement or other document for a prior transaction. Instead of calling again, they take it upon themselves to re-use the document for a new transaction. Often, they will decide to "improve" the document on their own.
The problem is that the prior document was almost certainly prepared with a different transaction in mind. Needless to say, the provisions that one would optimally include when a seller differ from those of a buyer. Further, the prior document may have been drafted with particular provisions that were peculiar to the particular transaction. Such provisions may include, for example, highly negotiated terms that were grudgingly accepted for the transaction then at hand, but that should never be re-used if at all possible.
I'm not saying that reusing a document is inherently a bad thing, if it is done by a lawyer. Lawyers reuse documents all the time, including documents from prior transactions for the same client. The difference is that we know how to modify the document so that it is tailored for the present transaction. It is very common that a second transaction for a client is much less expensive than the first because it is not necessary to start from ground zero.
I have said this before and I am going to keep saying it until people start listening: If you get professional help on the front end in setting up your business and preparing your company's legal documents, you will not only be lowering your risks, you will likely end up saving money on legal fees.
Further, if you work with an attorney consistently, the attorney will get to know your business and understand your risk tolerance. In most instances, costs will be lower after the first transaction, because the attorney will not have to reinvent the wheel and, when appropriate, can reuse documents, but tailor them to the current transaction.
It all harkens back to another commercial from many years ago about the wisdom changing the oil in your car early and often. As the mechanic on that commercial said: "You can pay me now, or pay me later." What I mean by this is that any savings from doing it yourself will quickly evaporate if your homemade document leads you into litigation. Litigation is virtually certain to be many times more expensive than the cost of a properly prepared contract or other legal document.
Professionally drafted documents do not guarantee keeping you out of litigation, but they certainly lower the risk and are much more likely to stand up if challenged in court or arbitration.