On March 28th and 29th, the Legal Marketing Association’s Los Angeles & Southern California Local Group's were thrilled to host David Ackert of Ackert Inc., who shared insights on borrowing gaming concepts to facilitate business development in law firms, a concept known as gamification. The programs took place at Fox Rothschild LLP in Century City and The Pacific Club in Newport Beach.
David has developed and implemented business development programs for hundreds of law firms, many hailing from the Am Law 100. Widely recognized as a legal business development pioneer, David is the founder of Practice Boomers, a business development e-learning program, and a two-time winner of the “Your Honor Award.” He is also the creator of Practice Pipeline, a pipeline management software platform for lawyers, and Practice Viewer, a KPI dashboard platform. David has been published and quoted in many reputable publications and served as a guest lecturer at distinguished institutions.
David’s message for this program was that legal marketers can use gamification to entice lawyers to approach business development from a new perspective. Just as the professional or amateur desires to win in game or sport; likewise marketers can tap into attorneys’ spirit of competitiveness to win new business.
In a market study, David found that the number one business development challenge among 100 law firms was lawyers’ lack of accountability for engaging in business development activities. Oftentimes business development professionals find themselves struggling to remind attorneys to routinely follow up on tasks, such as engaging a client or researching new opportunities. These attorneys struggle with such tasks because they are guided by their instincts to focus on the short-term ROI of one client or anticipation of new billable work. Lawyers need guidance in changing their mindset to a longer-term focus in business development activities that will pay off in greater dividends when executed correctly. How can this be achieved? By changing business development from a chore into a game.
It starts with incentives. As lawyers are motivated through competition amongst their peers, prizes can be awarded to the attorneys in multiple ways:
- Bragging rights: Lawyers can bask in their status of winning the prize, all while achieving greater business development milestones.
- Public acknowledgement from leadership: Managing partners or other executives praising the winner for his or her efforts.
- Monetary Rewards
- Charitable Donations: As David noted during the program, this tends to be extremely effective. It can even be a form of “shamification.” If lawyers do not participate or make an effort to win the game, they are not involving themselves in helping the good cause the firm is sponsoring and working to benefit.
- Miscellaneous Items: Lawyers can still be enticed by a free item such as a gift card to a nice restaurant or resort
Ultimately, the decision of the prize has to be tailored to the individual firm’s marketing budget and broader culture.
Game Components and Samples
David outlined the components of these games include:
- Challenges: Encourage engagement by offering specific tasks to complete
- Levels: Encourage users to progress and unlock new rewards
- Badges: Reward achievements visually
- Points: Measure a user’s achievement in relation to others
- Leaderboards: A ranking of players based on the amount of effort and the success that results
David shared with attendees a few of examples of possible games:
Business Development Bingo with 3x3 Cards
Attorneys receive their card with each square displaying a unique business development activity to accomplish. They must schedule their activity and document that they completed it. The first one to complete a row of their choice on the card within an allotted time will win first prize. David recommended targeting this game to associates.
Slide from David Ackert's Gamification in Business Development Program (LMA-LA) ,© Ackert Inc.
Similar to March Madness, lawyers are pitted against each other in a bracket format to accomplish business development tasks in each round. The ultimate winner of the competition takes the grand prize.
David encouraged attendees focused on business development to try these sample games, or to create variations or entirely new games containing the aforementioned components in varying degrees. By approaching business development efforts as a game, lawyers can begin to view such activities as fun, exciting and competitive, rather than as chores.
Sean Lee is the marketing coordinator for Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, a boutique in Century City focused on complex civil and white collar criminal litigation.