I expect that there is little chance VLO lawyers and their clients will ever physically meet. Admittedly, a lawyer could meet a nearby client physically, but clients who are further away or have schedules that limit their ability to meet the lawyer are still unable to meet. The major benefit that Second Life (r) offers is the ability to meet. Although it is not a physical meeting, virtual meetings have major attracted significant recognition for their ability to increase the effectiveness of communication. That is part of why I hoped that SL would be a good VLO.

Many of the amenities offered by other VLO services are missing from SL, but could be added to SL for this purpose or replaced by other services offered already in SL. One major hurdle is conflict checking. Since people sign up on SL with user names and are able to both sign up multiple times and create entire identities around these persons. This ability to hide true identity coupled with the lack of need to access any real world information at the beggining of a consultation, or even in payment, creates significant hazard for any lawyer trying to practice using SL as a VLO. This issue of hidden identity could be surmounted by requiring payment by credit card and using the credit card information to check for conflicts, but that would require the attorney to either manually check for conflicts or to rely on an outside website.

Another notable obstacle would be the need to again rely on outside websites for forms or to upload and download  files as pictures at a fee. This would go for things like, standard forms and could not be legitimately used if they are  passed in note card format.  Though notable, it is an issue that can easily be dealt with by using email or file sharing websites.

The third, semi-major, obstacle to the use of  Second Life(r) as a VLO is the lack of legal information available, such as cases, statutes, treatise, etc. on SL. This is notable only because the cost of subscription to a service that offers this information in addition to the cost that one would have to spend to get Linden Lab, Inc. to supply the necessary security and assistance to make SL a viable VLO, would very likely be prohibitive.

This is, admittedly, conjecture, but it is based on many factors. First of all, the price of land (a simulator, server) on SL is, at least, $250.00USD to start and $75.00USD per month; this price is only available to owners of land bought at price of $1,000.00USD and paying the $295.00USD maintenance fee…

…Here I am with egg on my face. It’s supposed to be a good facial mask. But enough about my skin care regime…

I recently found out about SL Enterprise Beta, which makes most of the issues that I worried about moot, but for the single hang-out-my-own-shingle lawyer practicing in SL Enterprise would be nearly impossible. Why? Because it costs $55,000.00USD and requires the installation of two servers. This, I would expect, would make it quite hard, though not impossible for a lawyer to use SL as a VLO, and still leaves issues open in relation to access to legal information and passing formal documents. This though revives my hope. I don’t expect that SL will ever become, on it’s own, a practical VLO, but I see more clearly a future where SL can be a useful supplement to the lawyer. I don’t have much to say about the “new” Enterprise system yet and will finish my post almost as a cliff hanger, but I do expect that when SL Enterprise is out of Beta, I will revisit this issue.

As always, feel free to comment and tell me what you like and don’t like, and what you want to hear.