Ride the Lightning
Cybersecurity and Future of Law Practice Blog
by Sharon D. Nelson Esq., President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.
Law Firms Opening Offices in the Metaverse
November 1, 2022
The Financial Times reported on October 13 that law firms are opening offices in the metaverse to connect with clients and entrepreneurs.
Is it the next generation of the internet? Who knows? But a lot of law firms and legal tech companies have now established offices in the metaverse, which is broadly defined as an immersive virtual world where employees are represented by 3D avatars.
Yes, the legal industry is conversative, but some law firms are experimenting with metaverses such as Decentraland or The Sandbox, which allow users to connect, as well as run businesses, buy parcels of “land” to build virtual office space, host virtual meetings and buy and sell digital assets.
Perhaps they are going where the clients are. As an example, HSBC bought digital real estate in The Sandbox, which is expected to become a stadium to host virtual sporting events.
Lawyers appear to be opening offices in virtual worlds to connect with technology clients and entrepreneurs.
Rodrigo González Ruiz, a partner in digital law at Deloitte Legal in Madrid, says the firm is developing its own virtual office, which will enable team members based there and in Barcelona and London to meet clients. It will also train lawyers and includes features such as a virtual blackboard — an online space dedicated to learning.
“We were thinking about new ways to interact with our clients and to attract the interests of clients,” says González Ruiz, who began exploring new ways of working online during the Covid-19 pandemic. He wanted more than the existing flat screens and Teams calls.
“Younger clients are very used to using these kinds of tools,” he says, adding that the way companies are interacting with the law firm is also changing. “Instead of having a report of evidence that is 100 pages, clients now want quick advice and effective advice. Younger clients are very, very digital.”
Dot, which redesigns legal processes and documents, set up in the metaverse using a program called Spatial. It made the move after its staff across Europe spent months of remote working during the coronavirus pandemic and after Innanen relocated to Spain from Finland last year.
As employers and employees are debating hybrid and remote working, Innanen says the law firm started thinking about its big office space and meeting rooms and whether they were necessary.
“On the other hand, the work that we do is very collaborative,” he explains. “Teams and Zoom are very convenient but, sometimes, they lack a sense of connection . . . We have all our weekly meetings at our metaverse office. It is a good way of connecting and, as we are all present in avatars, it gives you a feeling of being together.”
Other advantages? Dot staff based in Spain, Berlin and Helsinki can interact as avatars using the virtual office and there are no limits on visitor numbers.
U.S. law firms are increasingly active in the metaverse. Grungo Colarulo, a U.S. law firm specializing in personal injury, entered the metaverse with an office in Decentraland last December, with help from the 11-year-old daughter of founding partner Richard Grungo Jr, who used her experience of online gaming worlds such as Minecraft.
Some skeptical law firms say that it is still expensive to “buy” office space in the metaverse, and there are concerns about cyber security and protection for sensitive client data.
Innanen identified some practical problems. Clients can easily get lost when navigating virtual spaces without a host avatar to guide them. There can be technological glitches and some visitors pay less attention than in real life.
“I might be giving a seminar in the metaverse and there will often be one or two people running around like crazy or doing something like creating a massive cartoon of a cat,” he says.
That broke me up – and I assume other ludicrous behaviors will multiply. Sold on the metaverse? Not me, not yet.
Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., President, Sensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225, Fairfax, VA 22030
Email: Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology