How Should We Regulate Law Practice in the Metaverse?

Lawyers are licensed and regulated by states. In a sense, they are lawyers only when they stay home. They risk discipline and loss of fees if they work where they are not admitted. But the Internet does not recognize borders. It enables lawyers to advise clients anywhere from anywhere. Does it make sense to say that a New York lawyer can advise a Tennessee business owner if both are in the lawyer’s New York office but not if the lawyer is physically or virtually in Tennessee? We have a national legal economy and the technology to serve it, but an increasingly incoherent system to regulate it.

Stephen is the Elihu Root Professor of Law and Barbara is an Adjunct Professor of Law, both at New York University School of Law.

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Reference List for Podcast #12: How Should We Regulate Law Practice in the Metaverse?

Birbrower, Montalbano, Condon & Frank, P.C. v. Superior Court, 949 P.2d 1 (1998).

Virginia Opinion 1872 (2017), which describes a virtual office this way: “A virtual law practice involves a lawyer/firm interacting with clients partly or exclusively via secure Internet portals, emails, or other electronic messaging.”

NY Opinion 1025 (2014), which concludes: “An attorney may operate via a purely virtual office, provided the attorney complies with all applicable laws and Rules.”

Canada’s National Mobility Agreement
In re Charges of Unprofessional Conduct, 884 N.W.2d 661 (Minn. 2016).