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Gamification of Law: Good Idea or Game Over?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Gamification. It means taking video game elements and reward mechanics and applying them to non-game activities.

It's been touted as a great way to help you work out, but it is a smart idea to apply it to actual work? Specifically, law?

Gamify Your Firm

Making non-video game things seem like games is a cottage industry for mobile app-makers. As Lifehacker reported in January, sites like Fitocracy and HabitRPG make your quest to build muscle or lose weight like a real-life video game -- which is intended to motivate and incentivize good workout habits.

The ABA Journal reported in early March that it might even work for firms. By breaking down law firm drudgery into bite-sized tasks, law firms might make the process of something like keeping up with billables ... fun. Or that's the theory.

From a motivation standpoint, gamification seems to sit well with the legal profession. Many lawyers are competitive, and although we try to keep those shark-like instincts under wraps, it can be good to provide a healthy outlet for competition. Keeping score on which associate is the club leader in billables, timely paperwork, or even customer reviews -- with the promise of awards or bonuses -- might motivate everyone to work a bit harder.

Continue or Game Over?

But gamification's success with your firm may have everything to do with how you use it. Psychology researchers studying gamification have found it's most effective with short term goals, and it ultimately can't trick someone into doing something they're set against, reports Lifehacker.

Also keep in mind that gamification's fun nuances may quickly fade after you implement them. Little bonuses and achievements may motivate associates initially, but they may be viewed as a burden. It's not exactly law specific -- 80 percent of gamification apps end up failing. Part of the problem is fatigue, Gartner, Inc. Research VP Brian Burke told TechCrunch, so perhaps a little gamification goes a long way.

Add New Player: Your Clients

If gamification works best in small doses and on narrow-scoped tasks, perhaps the best use of gamification is on clients. Clients often feel as though their attorneys are disconnected from them, which leads to a lack of engagement. Some firms have loaned their clients iPads to fill the gap.

Instead of engaging your clients personally every time they have legal thoughts, a gamified website with free legal trivia could keep your clients occupied and happy. The ABA Journal notes that gamifying your intake procedure might encourage clients to actually fill out those otherwise melba-toast data sheets.

Gamification is by no means a perfect fit for every business, so each firm should make its own decision on whether to press "start."

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