I'm in favor of it, obviously. The Washington Post reports in alarm over the high cost of legal services, even approving in its own backhanded way of high hourly rates charged by lawyers in light of the poor things' unfair student debt (that being, obviously, the only excuse for a market rate in a just society). Here and there, however, people are trying out the legal equivalent of a nurse practitioner.
For years I ran my firm's pro bono legal clinic for homeless kids, 99% of whom had the same recurring problems, typically involving outstanding warrants for unpaid tickets. My neighbors come to me with the middle-class equivalent, which is wills and divorces, with the occasional business contract. Only in the case of the business contracts am I likely to add much value to what is available online to anybody with a modicum of instruction and experience. Cheap over-the-counter legal assistance for routine problems would cut way down on the cost of a lot of ordinary problems. If at the same time it makes some dull and lazy lawyers feel the cold breath of competition on their necks, well, maybe they'll get better at returning their phone calls timely.
Do I worry that people will get into trouble when a cut-rate semi-professional doesn't diagnose the zebra conditions? Not very much. The realistic alternative for most people is no legal advice at all. There are many, many controversies that can't be solved by a lawyer for less than the amount in dispute. Like a nurse practitioner, a legal practitioner who finds himself in over his head can refer people to an expert for anything really hairy. That's what I do when people approach me for consumer jobs outside my expertise: I try to do the bone-headed part up front--all the time-consuming process of extracting the facts and documents from the client, and roughing out an approach--then refer them to an expert with a situation that should now be cheaper to handle. Long experience tells me that the expensive part of a lot of legal work stems from using the lawyer as a secretary. Nearly all the cost of administering an estate, for instance, is monkey work consisting of endless repetitive letters to holders of various sorts of accounts and titles, finding out what documents they need filled out and sent in before they'll transfer title to heirs. Anyone with a bit of training can do that for himself and save a ton of money. Cassandra, with her paralegal experience and natural advantages, could do all of it standing on her head.
We sometimes couch licensing restrictions as a public protection, but there's usually a big old hunk of anti-competitive merchant protectionism built right in there.