Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

5 Ways Monopoly Can Make You A Better Lawyer

Lawyers Insurance RaleighCats rule! Irons – not so much.

The votes have been counted in the Monopoly Game Token Contest, and cat lovers are purring with delight while iron fanciers are feeling flat.

Perhaps you’ve been following Hasbro’s worldwide contest to select one of the playing tokens from its Monopoly game for extinction. The idea was to spark public interest while “freshening up” the venerable board game.

What you might not know is that the contest – and its outcome – offer important lessons for lawyers.

But first, let’s recap how we got here.

The Monopoly game originated back in the 1930s. Here are the 12 game pieces in the current Deluxe edition (some regular versions only have 10 pieces) and the year each piece was introduced:

  • Iron (1937)
  • Race car (1937)
  • Top hat (1937)
  • Shoe (1937)
  • Thimble (1937)
  • Battleship (1940)
  • Cannon (1940)
  • Scottie dog (early 1950s)
  • Horse and rider (early 1950s)
  • Wheelbarrow (early 1950s)
  • Locomotive (1995)
  • Money bag (1995)

Hasbro decided it would hold a contest to ditch one of these tokens and replace it with one of the following: helicopter, a diamond ring, a robot, a cat or a guitar.

The company set up a Facebook polling site, launched a worldwide publicity push, and sat back and watched the votes roll in. As it turned out, the shoe, wheelbarrow and iron waged a fierce battle for least popular token – with the iron coming out on top. Or bottom.

But the cat won in a landslide, racking up 31 percent of the vote – almost the exact same percentage of U.S homes (33 percent) that own at least one feline. Coincidence? We think not.

At any rate, here are 5 Takeaways for Attorneys:

  • Stay fresh. Successful lawyers – just like successful game companies – remain on top by keeping up with changing times. We don’t wear the same clothes every day or make the same arguments in every case. Why continue playing with the same pieces day after day?
  • Shake things up. Variety is the spice of life – and the law. It’s good to stir the pot now and then. Recently, the coach of the nation’s top-ranked men’s college basketball team benched a pair of starters in favor of two little-used subs. The reason? To keep everyone on their toes. The team won by 40 points.
  • Look to the future. Maybe it’s time to replace that lime green shag carpet in the front lobby. Or toss the IBM Selectric typewriter. How can we soar to new heights if we are chained to the past?
  • But keep what works. Pointless and unnecessary change is a waste of time, energy and money. It can also drive away customers. Remember Classic Coke?
  • Think Orange. Research has proven that you have a higher probability of landing on an orange property on the Monopoly board – St. James Place, Tennessee Avenue or New York Avenue – than any other real estate. Which conjures the irresistible image of a group of pointy-headed MIT statisticians staying up all night rolling dice, getting out of jail free and carefully logging the results.

And in the meantime, consider repainting your lobby orange.

Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He voted to dump the thimble and replace it with the guitar., phone 919-619-2441.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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