Playing and enjoying games are features encoded to our personality. Even if we happen to be lawyers. We like receiving rewards, enjoy competing and winning against our peers. The legal industry is especially obsessed with lists and rankings, the lawyer’s mind is by nature competitive. Why not transform then monotonous tasks and administrative actions to challenging games, making it enjoyable? Well, this is exactly what gamification promises.

  1. Concept of Gamification

Pokémon Go has become a global craze in the recent weeks. Even in this very moment swarms of people are wandering the streets from Shanghai to New York heads down looking for Pikachu and his friends. One might conclude that the success of Pokémon Go is based on capturing and battling the ’pocket monsters’ in a semi-virtual world, but that is just one side of the coin. The novelty and inventiveness of the application lies in forcing the users to discover their environment and rewarding them with pokémons. Pokémon Go has everything that makes a gamification project successful: challenge, joy of the game, development, reward. But what is gamification?

Gamification is the application of game-design elements (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) and game principles in non-game contexts, in order to improve user engagement, organizational productivity, flow or learning. Further to its beneficial effects on the corporate culture, it can deepen client engagement and loyalty, can create an innovative environment and may also improve business performance.

Such hypothesis has been tested and verified in various studies. For instance in one of the most recent studies performed in Madrid, Spain, it has been demonstrated that children who learnt by using game elements got better scores in practical assignments than students who followed traditional exercises. The researchers also confirmed that gamification can be a useful tool in motivating students. Further a well-structured reward systems combined with competitive social mechanisms provide a strong emotional and social impact that would increase overall motivation and engagement (Adrián Dominguez et al, 2012).

The concept of gamification is about to arrive to the mainstream regarding the development of modern organizations, such as multinational law firms. According to the recent survey made by the tech firm Gartner, Inc., gamification techniques were applied in 25 percent of redesigned business processes in 2015. Pursuant to several market predictions 70 percent of Global 2000 businesses will be managing at least one “gamified” application or system by the mid 2010’s.

  1. Gamification in the Service of the Legal Sector

Learning and development programs are in the midst of the intersection of gamification and the legal sector. An attorney for instance, who is taking a course on M&A transactions, can listen to the recording of a seminar, watch a video lecture and try to memorize all the information. Or, s/he can answer questions and make decisions as if s/he was a sailor of an ocean cruise ship. While playing s/he could watch a virtual transaction implemented step by step for each correct answer, as his/her cruise ship navigates the high seas. Should s/he pass the course, s/he can be the captain of the ship. The hypothesis of gamification theory is that the latter learning process will likely to result in faster and longer lasting learning.

Gamification can do much more than serving the thirst for learning and development in the legal service environment. There are also less abstract and hypothetical examples for the use of gamification in the legal context. For instance Deloitte, by using gamification principles, has increased the use of its Leadership Academy online training program by 37 percent. Users have become engaged and more likely to complete the online training programs as soon as various missions, badges, and leaderboards have been embedded into a user-friendly platform alongside interactive lectures, tests and quizzes.

Further, gamification may be the tool for getting administrative, non-fee direct earning – hence often disliked or even neglected – exercises done by fee-earners. Such activities are amongst others, preparing case summaries, drafting standard documents, registering time or simply doing legal research. Gamification can turn these activities to actual fun. Imagine, what if a fee-earner would be rewarded by a pokémon after having uploaded a standard document to the internal know-how database? Well, maybe law firms cannot give pokémons to fee-earners, but they certainly can reward these activities by creating playful platforms. Gamification may also revolutionize employer branding and recruitment; what would attract more the tech-savvy Y generation lawyer than fancy online games?

As a conclusion, little creativity combined with the concept of gamification may turn the completion of forms and passing the required trainings an interesting quest with levels and collection of badges, rather than a bureaucratic necessity.