The metaverse is a virtual world where users can interact with a computer-generated environment and each other in real-time. As there is currently no universally accepted definition of the metaverse, it is commonly understood to compass the use of Virtual and Augmented Reality. The metaverse will enable clients and their lawyers to meet, while simultaneously being virtually surrounded by evidence, walking through chronological sequences of what happened in their case, bringing up documents and using artificial intelligence to trawl through precedents and analytics. The metaverse also provides opportunities for remote trials and hearings without the disadvantages normally associated with traditional court proceedings.
While it is still in its early stages, the distinct legal issues and implications of the metaverse are yet to be uncovered, but nevertheless, the metaverse has the potential to transform many aspects of the legal services industry, in-particular, ligation. As the metaverse develops, so too does the use of online dispute technologies such as virtual dispute resolution (VDR). VDR allows parties to use a variety of virtual platforms, including online arbitration, mediation, and negotiation tools to resolve their disputes without the need to physically meet in person. This has the potential to increase your access to justice by making dispute resolution more efficient, cost-effective, and convenient to parties, as parties can participate in various ADR settlements from anywhere in the world at any time.
On the other hand, the metaverse presents new challenges for legal professionals, in regard to intellectual property and digital rights management in the metaverse. As users create and share content within the metaverse, issues arise around ownership, licensing, and infringement of the intellectual property. Legal services will need to adapt to address these challenges and ensure that clients are protected in this new environment.
Over the last two decades, the legal industry has had to grow and adapt to the dramatic emergence of social media and gaming platforms. Back in 2013, the high court case of McAlpine v Bercow demonstrated social media’s capability in triggering legal cases of a vast proportion, with Mrs Bercow ordered to pay large damages for a defamatory tweet. It is becoming common practise for legislation to include stipulations about the admission of social media documents as evidence in court, with problems such as verification of content, legitimacy, and authorship frequently being essential components of both the prosecution and defendants’ case to answer.
Overall, the metaverse is still in its infancy, and it remains to be seen how it will impact the legal services industry in the long run. Nonetheless, the metaverse will create new legal challenges for our solicitors and will provide new opportunities for our clients.