Listen, full disclosure — I’m not sold on the metaverse yet. The commercials are a weird, uncanny valley and after two years and counting of pandemic-induced isolation, I am ready to be where the people are, not where their avatars are. But, man, the artist formerly known as Facebook is sure pushing the hell out of it.
And a Biglaw firm has bitten. Arent Fox has announced the firm has purchased digital land in the metaverse and is building a virtual office in Decentraland. The firm’s crypto chair, James Williams, told Law.com the virtual move is designed to demonstrate to clients that Arent Fox understands the new, digital world:
“The platforms you hear most about are the gaming platforms. But that’s not where the future is. In places like Sandbox and Decentraland you’re buying in locations just like you would buy a Rodeo Drive. You’re trying to get in early,” said Williams, adding that the idea, at a minimum, is to show clients that you’re smart and familiar with the metaverse. “We want to show our clients: We know this world; look, we bought in this world, and we can help them navigate this world.”
And even if the future in *not* in the metaverse, the purchase still makes sense for the firm: “[W]e still have a lot of clients moving to this place now, and we want to be where our clients are,” Williams said.
Firm chair Anthony Lupo said the digital investment has already increased its value by 25 percent and that Arent Fox wants to be part of deciding how the metaverse will be used:
“There is a lot of curiosity, but there’s also a lot of confusion about the metaverse, partly because nobody knows what the metaverse is,” said Lupo. “Arent Fox’s move to the metaverse is not only symbolic. We are attempting to find the solution and actually operating in the space. We don’t know what the metaverse will be in five years, but we’re not waiting five years to find out. We’re going to help iterate that future.”
Besides, the metaverse just might help with those work-from-home blues:
“We had our partnership meeting last week, and I announced our purchase of an office in the metaverse,” said Lupo. “I joked that when we return to the office, people that don’t want to come back to the work, we’ll put them in the metaverse office.”
But the jury is still out as to whether this becomes a full-blown Biglaw trend.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).