Stephen S. Wu-- SL: Legal Writer,, (408) 573-5737, 50 W. San Fernando St., Ste. 750, San Jose, CA 95113

SL Bar Association Holds Mini-Conference on "Practicing Law in a Virtual World"

On Saturday, November 14, 2009, the SL Bar Association held a mini-conference entitled "Practicing Law in a Virtual World" hosted by the University of Florida's Fredric G. Levin College of Law on Gator Island in the Second Life® virtual world The speakers included leaders within the SL Bar Association. The purpose of the confefrence was to introduce both practice issues and substantivie issues of practicing law in a virtual world, in the context of discussing career paths for law students. For more information about the conference, click here. The SLBA will soon post a video of the conference.
The first panel of the program featured Daniel Perry (SL: DanielPerry Laa), James Bryce Clark (SL: JamieBryce Infinity), and Stephen Davies (SL: Little Gray). The panel touched on issues such as the question of whether practicing law in a virtual world means that the lawyer is in a different "place" or practicing law in the location of a remote user, which may have implications for the unauthorized practice of law. Mr. Perry saw SL as a communication tool, which means that SL may appear to regulators the same as the telephone (i.e., with known issues concerning the unauthorized practice of law). Mr. Perry also saw opportunities for business development for lawyers in SL and creating teams of practitioners who could work together on individual client engagements. Mr. Clark talked about some of the privacy and security issues in SL, noting that the Lindens have at least the capability of monitoring discussions. Thus, confidentiality is not assured for discussions on SL. Finally, Mr. Davies discussed civil rights activism on SL.

I spoke on the second panel of the program, along with A. Craig Abrahamson (SL: Lexis Looming). Mr. Abrahamson gave tips concerning creating enforceable contracts on SL. The discussion also emphasized the importance of doing due diligence on potential contracting parties to make sure that people know the trustworthiness of those partners. Ferreting out problems before the contract is signed may vitiate the need for contract litigation later. Mr. Abrahamson also emphasized the need for formalities, such as a written contract entered into outside of SL.

My talk concerned intellectual property issues in SL. I covered patent, right to publicity, copyright, and trademark law, and how they apply to virtual worlds. I also discussed the Eros v. Linden case, discussed on other posts in this blog.

With broad publicity about the conference and strong attendance, the conference was a success. Thanks go to the Fredric G. Levin College of Law for its sponsorship of this program. I hope that the SLBA will host more mini-conferences.