The Metaverse | New Disruption for the Legal Industry

The Metaverse | New Disruption for the Legal Industry

Currently, we are on the verge of technological evolution, the transformation is going around in every corner of the world. No one is sure of – what the future will unfold and how it will change the way we work, live or interact.

World Economic Forum described four industrial revolutions and we are currently in the fourth – succeeded by digital transformation and information technology that encapsulates the third revolution. While describing the key trends of the fourth revolution, WEF stated, “there are four main effects that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has on business—on customer expectations, on product enhancement, on collaborative innovation, and on organizational forms.”

The fourth revolution is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. Metaverse, Virtual Reality/ Augmented Reality (AR/VR) will have a huge contribution to the fourth revolution, it will touch every aspect of our lives like never before. These technologies are a way to create a balance between the digital and physical worlds.

Recently, Facebook changed its name to the Meta, with the vision of building ‘metaverse’, a shared virtual environment that will be the probable successor to the mobile internet. While announcing the rebranding, Mark Zuckerberg CEO in his letter stated “The defining quality of the metaverse will be a feeling of presence — like you are right there with another person or in another place. Feeling truly present with another person is the ultimate dream of social technology. This isn’t about spending more time on screens; it’s about making the time we already spend better.”

It’s hard to believe how metaverses will influence the practice of law. On December 2, 2021 , a New Jersey headquartered personal injury law firm named Grungo Colarulo, surprised the legal fraternity by announcing that they are opening a metaverse office.

Trust and Security

Every economy needs money. With the introduction of Bitcoin in 2009, most of us got to learn about virtual economy. In the virtual world, cryptocurrencies will work like virtual cash with instant transactions. Additionally, security and trust are ensured with the use of the blockchain technology.

Nick Abrahams, Global Co-leader – Digital Transformation with Norton Rose Fulbright, in a recent podcast with “The Foil” on Audible stated, “[W]e first experienced Crypto with Bitcoin, the founder of which is Satoshi Nakamoto, who we don’t know – who that person is. We are trusting ourselves to a technology we do not know about the founder, how it came about.

“What we have seen is the underlying architecture (blockchain) and that underlying architecture has proven over the last decade to be incredibly resistance to attacks. Whereas, most software solutions have vulnerabilities and are stuck by viruses or attacks,” he added.

Metaverse and Crypto

Existing metaverses already use cryptocurrency as a form of payment. So, if you visit Decentraland – the first fully decentralized world. To survive in Decentraland, you just need their tokens “MANA” to buy anything and everything.

Indeed, metaverse cryptocurrencies like Decentraland, Sandbox (SAND), Alien world, Axie Infinity, and Enjin (ENJ) are among the few tokens that have turned green this year.

The Future landscape

Toby Pettinger, Managing Director at MXTreality, in his article titled Improving Legal Outcomes With Virtual Reality for Lawyer Monthly, stated that VR/AR could help lawyers understand dry subjects through the experiential learning that it offers.

From live court sessions to recreating the crime scene, VR could help witnesses. Court officials can understand the scenario as they can walk the scene by themselves, bringing an immersive experience and a broader view of the incident.

AR/VR technologies not only help in improving legal outcomes but also shorten the distance between geographies. Legal representatives will no longer be hesitant to undertake high-profile multi-jurisdictional trials. The use of AR/VR technologies will also help control the cost of litigation in multi-jurisdictional and geographical litigations.

Client engagement would become more immersive with close to the real environment than a conventional video meeting. Time-bound scenarios such as when lawyers and clients based in other location needs to connect on sensitive contract negotiations, litigation, mergers & acquisition, etc. could be met easily.

Legal marketing is another area where law firms and legal service providers can leverage VR/AR-based interaction with prospective clients to promote their services. Clients on the other hand will gain perspective about lawyers/service providers and their expertise in real-time.

Another utility of VR/AR technologies that can not be ignored is in the field of legal education. It will aid in transforming the quality of education and create future-ready lawyers. Imagine recreating an old or prominent lawsuit and discussion around different aspects of the case or precedent during classroom sessions.

To summarize, some of the utilities of Metaverse for the legal industry will be:

  • Legal education including continuing legal education
  • Legal marketing
  • Court proceedings including expert witnesses and testimony
  • Trial presentations
  • Contract review and negotiations (direct)
  • Patent illustrations
  • Client interaction

Use with caution

In the podcast, Nick Abrahams, Global Co-leader – Digital Transformation states that its not regulated so its hard to get an advice from anyone. However, he mentioned that, “[H]e believes that in the 5 years time, the crypto currency will absolutely be a part of the fabric of the financial services. But the path between here and 5 years is not going to be easier, its going to be technologically focussed, scams, whole range of things and people are going to loose a lot of money.”

In an article for Law.com, Virtual, Augmented Reality Tech Has Arrived—But Isn't Receiving Special Regulatory Attention, Brittan Heller of Foley Haug, discusses that the arrival of AR/VR brings with it potential threats as it falls under the purview of broader than specific laws.

She further explains “The companies are putting their own constraints on the information they will and won’t use, but often times AR and VR’s risk of harm comes from the crash of data sets that we never anticipated would be used together,” Meaning, “mass advertising is going to start in VR environments [and] there’s not a lot of specific regulations governing what type of data can and can not be used,”

On December 1, 2021, for an IP Watchdog article titled “Live, Work and Play in a Legal Metaverse: Preparing for a New Online Existence”, Louis Lehot & Natasha Allen talked about the benefits and some concerns/precautions to follow while falling prey to advanced technologies like AR/VR. As the number of transactions involving human interaction increases in the virtual world, freedom from fraudulent malpractices can’t be assured hence surveillance is required to avoid such transactions.

“The law is also a step behind technology, as technology by definition develops more rapidly, with legal norms following in reaction to the developments. Of course, the Metaverse will have legal implications. One issue will be collaboration and interoperability among different Metaverse creators. If the purpose of the Metaverse is to allow people to interact in a digital world, each Metaverse should be accessible from all devices and headsets. This may involve technology companies having to agree to specific standards for a Metaverse so that they can interoperate among different creators, or each company will have to comply with the technology constraints built by its predecessors and license the rights to use another company’s underlying technology to build its Metaverse,” they added.

Future of legal

Metaverse is beyond the realm of gaming and fun. The utility of these and many more evolving technologies is still unexplored yet promising. Additionally, we are still in the early days of the evolution, and don’t know how they will evolve. It’s important to start to explore how these technologies can enhance your business model and client experience..

While Metaverse offers new and refreshing ways of professional and personal interaction, easing human efforts, the potential cons could not be overlooked. Right from the fraudulent transactions to potential data compromises to invading private space, unregulated space calls for laws and regulations.

Legal professionals may gain leverage using Metaverse, making client interaction easier and their brand more prominent. With advancements in the technological landscape, Metaverse and Crypto laws and utilities will evolve from being broader to specific.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Novum Learning or Legal Practice Intelligence (LPI). While every attempt has been made to ensure that the information in this article has been obtained from reliable sources, neither Novum Learning or LPI nor the authors are responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information, as the content published here is for information purposes only. The article does not constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed or the law relating thereto, and does not constitute professional and/or financial advice.