Mass Customization. Nike is doing it with its NIKEiD shoes and Fiat with their Fiat 500: Your own personalized product, even though it just came of the assembly line. That is the basis of mass customization. Technical innovations today, allow us to deliver ‘unique’ products, without having a handmade cost base. Should lawyers be doing this too?

What do Nike and Fiat do?
Both created an online platform where consumers can assemble their own shoe or car in such a way that it feels unique to the consumer itself. Both parties only allow a limited number of choices. It is for instance not possible to change the chassis of the car; you start from a predefined base. In this way, the manufacturers are able to manufacture ‘unique’ products in a mass production environment.

As a consumer, you will not pay the price of a Rolls Royce, but for a small addition you have your own unique car or shoes.

Law firms are not assembly lines!
Obviously, not all advice provided by a lawyer is a Fiat 500 car. But let’s be honest; not all cases are Rolls Royces! A part of your advice may be unique, but often parts are common.

Compare it with the chassis of a car (80% of the work) and the customizations (the remaining 20%) on top of the chassis. By using the same chassis and adding a unique and client specific combination of elements of advice, the client receives its ‘unique’ advice. The lawyer benefits, because it is much more efficient to work this way.

Some legal suppliers offer contract generators on their websites. In the Netherlands these are for instance ICT Recht and Actio Law. Another non-Dutch example is the well-known RocketLaywer. An example of a modern interface can be found at Web Contract Generator.

A well set-up contract generator will avoid the pain of the Word templates that are still used by many. The pain of maintaining a plural and a singular version of the same template or the maintenance of the boilerplate clauses. Only if you automate this well, your firm can really benefit from its templates: the assembly line of every lawyer.

Before you start your mass customization project, you should think how you, as a lawyer, will benefit from it. One option would be to offer the most common templates with a couple of options for free. Additional work could be priced at an hourly rate.

One could also choose to offer more options and to charge a fixed price for the more difficult options. In the end it will be up to your creativity and you information on pricing for your additional work, what works best for you.

Legal mass customization: It’s a great challenge and an area where a lot can be gained! What do you think are ways to benefit from mass customization?