Can I conduct a patent search myself or should I hire someone to do that for me?
I think for my clients, as a personal decision, there’s no law that requires you to search anything, and the patent office if you ever file a patent application will do a patent search. I think you need to know that again there’s no requirement to do one or you could spend all the money in the world searching and still never find the answer to the question: is this patentable? That’s the wrong question to ask really. The question is has it already been done before? And even that you may not find.
You can do them or not yourself. The patent office will do one, but you have to file a patent application and because of the internet you can search the US patent office records yourself. Google patents, IBM patents, all available. I would take that information to a patent attorney to help make sense of it, but you can do it yourself if you wish.