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Lawyers in the virtual world of Second Life : ABA Journal article

March 10, 2007

Stephanie Francis Ward has an excellent article in the ABA Journal this week on how lawyers are using the virtual world of Second Life. Stephanie’s a good reporter and writer so you’ll find the read a well researched one, quoting lawyers and judges from around the country as to their experiences in Second Life.

Second Life is nothing to sneeze at and may have some marketing possibilities for innovative lawyers.

Launched in 1999, Second Life is an animated, three-dimensional virtual world run by a privately owned com pany called Linden Lab, based in San Francisco. Its investors include founder Jeff Bezos. Anyone at least 18 with a computer and a high-speed Internet connection can join, and millions have—about 3.3 million at press time, with more joining every day.

Among this growing group of participants are people who live as lawyers in both real life and in Second Life. They are drawn into Second Life for reasons including rainmaking and nation-building. Others say they are attracted by the myriad legal issues arising from—and existing within—this expanding alternative universe.

My take is lawyers are using Second Life in two respects. One, networking. By spending time in Second Life, lawyers are meeting other lawyers across the country with similar interests. Lawyers they could have never met otherwise.

From Washington, D.C. intellectual property lawyer, Stevan Lieberman:

Second Life is essentially a method where I can socialize and talk to my peers, and do it from my living room. Like Judge Posner, [well respected 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals jurist from Chicago], I’ve never met him, and in the real world I don’t think I’d have a chance to meet him. But in Second Life, I’m able to walk up, shake his hand and say hello.

Second, is the the construction of a justice & legal system in a virtual world. Second Life is a labratory for testing. That’s being done whether by teaching people with Second Like presences who have expressed an interest in learning law and government or settling disputes in Second Life. A process of regulating behavior, just like we do with law in the real world, is already in the works.

How to use Second Life as a marketing tool? Get out and press the flesh, even if its virtual.

Meeting influential lawyers and judges with similar interests only has upside. Discussing legal issues with them is a growing experience – you’ll become a better lawyer. Getting to know people in their networks will open doors for you, whether it be speaking opportunities, referrals, or being contacted by reporters who may contact them.

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