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Value of Second Life to law firms is over

Second Life for Law FirmsI questioned last fall the value of Second Life in law firm marketing. If you’re not familiar with it, Second Life is an Internet-based virtual world with various social networking features including commerce between users.

From Marshall Kirkpatrick’s post today at ReadWriteWeb, it looks like the end may be near for Second Life.

Second Life’s user numbers are stagnating. SL expert Wagner James Au writes at Gigaom that the population in-world has plateaued at just over a half million active users and new user retention is stuck at 10%.

The company’s founding CEO is stepping into a new role, making room for someone not yet selected, with more managerial experience.

Service interruptions are rampant, reading the company blog is disheartening and reader comments on the BrandCenter post return again and again to the basic problems that even dedicated residents have to deal with.

In December, the leader of its vaunted platform for outside commercial designer/developers, the Electric Sheep Company, laid-off one third of its workforce and announced that it will move into other Virtual World platforms.

There’s always going to be a lot of buzz about what’s new. Legal publications and reporters get paid to cover stuff like Second Life. Such coverage got unknowing law firm marketing professionals thinking they need to study the use of Second Life for their law firms.

But on the list of the top ten things law firms should be considering in the area of innovative marketing and networking, Second Life is about number 47.

  • http://virtuallyblind.com Benjamin Duranske

    I thought I remembered your post from last year, and when I clicked on it, I see my comment.
    This is still pretty surface-level analysis.
    Second Life itself may or may not end up at the top of the pile (many of us believe it won’t) but virtual worlds are really nothing more than the 3D internet, and as processing power increases and the user base grows you are going to see more and more businesses finding value in these virtual spaces. Some will be play-spaces, some will be social spaces, and some will be spaces where business is done.
    It is definitely true that marketing a law firm directly in a current virtual world isn’t going to generate instant returns, but you’ve got to take the long view here. Attorneys, particularly those with high-tech clients, need to be familar with these spaces, and can do so for a minimal investment of time and resources. It strikes me as terrible advice to tell an attorney to turn his her her back on this space right now, when it is just beginning to reach the point where it is attractive to mainstream business clients.

  • http://blawgreview.blogspot.com Ed.

    I disagree, Kevin. Second Life is about number 42.

  • http://kevin.lexblog.com Kevin OKeefe

    The points about the opportunities that await a lawyer learning about virtual communities and who is willing to add value to the community are well taken.
    The problem is that the vast majority of lawyers haven’t even mastered RSS feeds, the use of a newsreader, blogging , and other basic online networking tools. Then when media coverage of Second Life hits, law firm marketing folks start thinking they need to get on top of SL when there are more important items that merit their attention.
    Sure, for the right lawyer, SL may merit some tinkering around. But not for most.

  • http://www.rezzable.com rightasrain

    While there are certainly a lot of interesting legal issues in and around virtual worlds, it would seem hard to imagine a law firm benefitting from an SL presence now (or for a loooong time).
    Growth is pretty flat and lot of unclear issues at hand atm. We run the largest public area in SL now and took a look at recent SL data here: http://rezzable.com/blog/rightasrain-rimbaud/looking-linden-sl-data-and-trying-be-excited-about-sl5b
    We still think there is an opportunity for using SL to reach global early adopters at cost-effective prices (like our promotion for L’oreal). There is also a lot of exciting stuff to support and get involved with–but immediate returns hard to see for legal firms.