Kennedy on Tech

What can 'gamification' do for lawyers?

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With the recent release of new gaming systems, the wild success of gaming apps (roughly 2 billion downloads of Angry Birds alone) and a generation of children raised on video games entering the workforce, we seem to be at a high point in electronic gaming.

As a result, our waning attention spans have led to changes in the way information is presented and taught. Will these developments impact lawyers and the practice of law? Let me introduce you to the concept of “gamification.”

Gamification means the application of game techniques in nongame contexts with the goals of increasing user engagement and improving desired results. It takes advantage of gaming techniques like points, levels, rewards, leader boards and the like.

Gamification is used to engage and encourage people to complete tasks or accomplish goals. Most often these are tasks that are tedious or cumbersome, or never quite get finished. The gaming techniques help improve the rate of completion. And often there is also a competitive element—you can win something or see how you rank in comparison to others.

The LinkedIn Profile Strength Meter is a good example. The goal is to get you to fill out your profile completely. LinkedIn shows you a graphic that indicates how much you have completed and also tells you the level of user you have attained, all the way up to All-Star.

In a law firm, this type of approach might be used in connection with CLE or other training. There are also some less obvious places lawyers might consider gamification, such as:

Timekeeping. Points, badges or rewards for lawyers who turn in timesheets promptly might improve submission rates.

Billing and collection. Points for reduced times for billing and collection, with contest prizes and leader boards, might increase the speed of collections.

• “Onboarding.” Turn the completion of forms and required training into a quest, with levels and completion badges.

Client information. Completion charts and game elements might entice clients to complete online forms and data sheets better than plain forms with error messages.

Marketing. Quizzes or puzzles might draw return visitors to a firm’s website.

Try to notice all the places you see gaming techniques being used. Then take a look at some of the tedious, but important, things you need to do or have others do. Some of these gaming techniques might help get those tasks completed so you can achieve greater goals.

Gamification for lawyers? Maybe it’s not as crazy an idea as you thought.

This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: “Game Plan: Challenges, rewards can get tedious tasks done.”

Dennis Kennedy is a St. Louis-based legal technology writer and information technology lawyer.

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