Should Your Law Firm Care About The Metaverse?

14 December 2022 by Ross eDiscovery metaverse

Takeaway: The metaverse will soon exist in some form – even if not how Meta/Facebook currently imagines it. So, law firms should prepare for the upheaval by (1) Actively learning about new legal tech and (2) Trying out a range of applications – even if they’re not directly related to the metaverse. Remember, application-interfaces build off each other, so getting used to today’s innovations will help prepare you for tomorrow’s.

The metaverse is a virtual online ecosystem with a lot of buzz surrounding it.

The metaverse merges our physical and online experiences into a new, immersive virtual world. It’s a self-contained ecosystem built on cutting-edge technology and entertaining/educational content, and it promises a new way for people to interact in real-time. For instance, metaverse-based games offer players a virtual world to explore and conquer. A world where they can create avatars and choose adventures. Similarly, metaverse-based work might include using ‘mixed reality’ meeting spaces (like the one Meta revealed) equipped with virtual meeting rooms and whiteboards.

What’s most exciting are the technological building blocks that power the metaverse.

Part of the metaverse’s appeal is that it uses tech we haven’t yet fully learned to harness. While the average person focuses on virtual/augmented reality headsets and fun games, metaverse engineers appreciate the underlying artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies. They see how the metaverse could popularize a digital economy with virtual currency, assets, etc., transforming how we live and do business. And this transformation is accelerating rapidly. For instance, sports clubs have already started experimenting with virtual stadiums, and celebrities are beginning to release virtual merchandise for fans to buy.

But this evolution brings challenges for attorneys. For instance, what constitutes a crime in the metaverse?

Attorneys will need to help redefine what crime implies in the metaverse. For instance, some common crimes like murder, physical assault, and kidnapping are physical acts requiring a real-life human body. But virtual offences are possible in the metaverse – for example, hate speech, online stalking, verbal assaults, vandalism of virtual property, etc. So, attorneys and courts will likely need to create a new set of metaverse laws to control unlawful behaviour by real human minds in virtual bodies.

Also, who is the criminal – a human or their avatar?

Crimes in the metaverse will be committed by virtual avatars. And, sure, the human controlling the avatar is ultimately responsible. Still, a criminal’s avatar attacking a victim’s avatar is not the same as a criminal attacking a victim in real life. Further, how do you verify the attack and identify the human controlling an avatar? Metaverse providers will likely need to track what each user does and have a dependable user-verification system in place. But these are systems upon systems with multiple potential breaking points. And the systems will generate massive amounts of private data – so who decides what data can be accessed by whom?

Copyrights help protect people from stealing an artist/creator’s original work. But artists in the metaverse will create an interwoven mix of virtual and real-world content – which complicates things. For instance, what if one artist creates metaverse art that loosely mimics another artist’s real-world art? Is that an unfair apples-to-oranges comparison or a defensible example of IP theft? (This becomes especially important when discussing non-fungible tokens [NFTs] and metaverse-based software creations worth millions of dollars.) So, will we need new copyrights, patents, and trademarks for the metaverse? And how will they tie into their real-world equivalents?

We’ll also need to regulate virtual assets and services in the metaverse.

As more people use the metaverse, we’ll see a new virtual economy develop. It’ll involve blockchain-based assets/services, inevitably leading to metaverse-equivalents of securities, trades, banking, lending, etc. – all of which will need oversight. And as metaverse gambling and lotteries take off, we’ll need to regulate these, too. (The metaverse already has ‘loot box’ games with virtual treasure chests of randomized virtual assets.) Finally, we’re likely to see taxes for metaverse-based income, especially since the IRS already views cryptocurrencies and NFTs as property – the profits from which are taxable.

The metaverse is inevitable (even if it’s not Meta/Facebook’s version), so law firms must prepare for it.

Whether or not Meta’s version of the metaverse succeeds, some variation of it will inevitably take over our lives. And law firms can adapt by being curious about changes in legal technology. For example, eDiscovery is a tech revolution already in motion, so attorneys can learn to use the latest generation of eDiscovery applications. This means testing new eDiscovery interfaces, understanding cloud storage, and exploring tech concepts like hashing, metadata, and data normalization.

Here’s where simple eDiscovery applications can help prepare you for more complicated tech to come.

You can keep pace with evolving tech by signing up for Google alerts, researching topics via social media (like Twitter), and subscribing to magazines like Wired. But there’s nothing like trying out the latest apps for yourself. For instance, GoldFynch’s subscription-based eDiscovery service gives you a free trial case to experiment with. It has an easy-to-use interface with design elements that future tech will undoubtedly build on. And it’s affordable for even smaller law firms, should you decide to subscribe to the paid version. Here’s why it’s perfect for small and midsize firms:

  • It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know exactly what you’re paying for: its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing files is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want, as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
  • It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch runs in the Cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free trial case (0.5 GB of data and a processing cap of 1 GB) without adding a credit card.
  • It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch, and you’re good to go. Plus, you get prompt and reliable tech support (our average response time is 30 minutes).
  • Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.

Want to find out more about GoldFynch?