How Might the Metaverse Disrupt Legal and Business Processes?

A July 20 post on the blog Epiq Angle raised legal and business considerations that could arise in the wake of tech’s latest hot topic: the metaverse. The blog is produced by Epiq Global, a worldwide provider of legal and business services headquartered in New York City with more than 80 offices around the globe across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Starting from a working definition of the metaverse as “an immersive, three-dimensional shared virtual space allowing users to interact with one another as if in person,” the blog post went on to offer both perspective and guidance for negotiating potential business and legal impacts.

As the metaverse develops, the system is likely to function as a standalone digital economy whose open access allows users to participate in its continuous evolution. That evolution is expected to include such factors as augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) along with digital currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH). Some physical-world organizations already are participating by opening virtual banks, hosting virtual law offices, and creating retail strategies.

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The metaverse’s growth, even if halting, is predicted to affect internal processes, business dealings, and case strategy, among other things. By exploring possibilities now, law firms and businesses can prepare to meet future challenges in enterprise operations, strategy, and investments, such as the following:

  • Information governance programs – Whether full metaverse participants or simply interacting with the oceans of metaverse data, organizations likely will need new policies involving risk management and compliance, data retention, data classification, cloud storage, and data protection.
  • Legal e-discovery and ethical obligations – If data related to litigation or investigations resides in the metaverse, potential issues include having to use VR equipment (headsets, etc.) to access data, identifying data custody and custodians, ensuring data preservation, and increased spoliation claims. Meaningful case law in these areas is likely years or even decades away. Both to prevent e-discovery quagmires and to remain ethical, lawyers must stay knowledgeable about developing metaverse technologies, including VR equipment and related metaverse access tools.
  • Cybersecurity risks – New technologies typically multiply cybersecurity risks, and top concerns include protecting consumer data, trade secrets, and other sensitive information.
  • Application of privacy regulations – Metaverse data including biometrics and health information could fall under the umbrella of regional, national, and even global data privacy laws as these continue to be passed. But it remains unclear which regulations will apply in which circumstances.

Building knowledge and skills in each of these areas can help both lawyers and law firms as they try to stay conversant with rapidly developing—and potentially highly disruptive—technologies.