Earlier this month, Dennis Kennedy wrote an article for the American Bar Association, “What can gamification do for lawyers?,” discussing making a game out of the daily routines within a law firm, from timekeeping to marketing. While I was initially intrigued, the article disappointed me. I felt like the article missed the point.
I do not think that attorneys or staff want to get little badges or prizes for doing their jobs. I do not think that makes work more fun, per se. Do I think that gamification has a place in the legal/law firm setting? Yes, I do, but not at all in the way Mr. Kennedy described it.
Gamification has a place in legal technology.
Gamification should be considered when developing new legal technologies, and I’m not talking about arbitrary badges for doing your job. Gamification has the potential to enhance software user experience and help individuals perform their jobs better, without being distracting, arbitrary, or trite.
When you do something correctly in a game, you are immediately notified either through a cheery sounding bell (or a buzzer if you’re wrong) or some sort of progress bar. Developers could easily integrate analogous functionality seamlessly into legal technology. As the user progresses through case screens entering information, a progress bar shows how much has been completed, or as the user completes a client intake screen, they are notified contemporaneously with data entry how much of the screen is complete. Instant gratification and notification can push you forward and help you reach your goals faster and with more consistency.
If you could tell, quickly and visually, how much work you have completed throughout a day, week, or month, how much harder would you work? What if you could see the amount of work completed by other firm members and compare that against your own statistics? Games on the market today track and store more data than you can imagine, and present it to the player in real time in easy-to-digest graphics. Legal technology should be the same. Case and document management software could borrow from the gaming industry and provide user performance data in real time.
We all play some sort of mobile game. It’s ok, you can admit it. That game probably sends you notifications reminding you to play or notifying you that your opponent has played. When you log in, you have notifications waiting for you describing player statistics over time. Legal technology can and should do this. I imagine the functionality as an alert informing you that you were 20% less productive this week than last or congratulating you on fulfilling all of your goals set for the day, week, or month. Not only would these notifications give you valuable, timely feedback, it would motivate attorneys and staff.
“Gamification” does not necessarily equate to “game.” Legal technology should look to the enormously successful gaming industry in order to increase productivity and user experience on their platforms. Take the progress bar and leave the badges to actual games.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about gamification of legal software. What are some aspects of gaming that you think would effectively work in a law firm setting? Or do you think it’s all too ridiculous?