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Lawyering in Second Life

Law.com has an intriguing article on lawyering in Second Life, an online simulated universe with more than 8 million users.

And while Second Life might initially seem like make-believe or child's play, the firm [Greenberg & Lieberman] is filing real trademark applications, landing real clients and making real money through the virtual world. By Lieberman's reckoning, the firm has pulled in nearly $20,000 in revenue from its Second Life office in the past year. Not exactly enough to make the D.C. 20, but impressive, given that overhead is almost nil.

The office is staffed by attorneys, sort of. Every living, breathing person who enters Second Life acquires an alter ego, a digital character called an avatar that can look like pretty much anything....

People in Second Life act pretty much like people do everywhere. They just might do it in the form of a fuzzy, tangerine-colored fox. And, of course, even fuzzy, tangerine foxes have legal problems.

Landlord-tenant issues, contract disputes, intellectual property problems. Second Life is a lawyer's dream world in more than just the figurative sense.

"There's real money changing hands, and there are real disputes that people have in-world over real creations," says Benjamin Duranske, whose avatar, "Benjamin Noble," created the Second Life Bar Association. "It just happens to be represented digitally."