FFW opens its doors in virtual world Second Life

Field Fisher Waterhouse

(FFW) is the first law firm to launch an office in virtual world Second Life.

The UK law firm follows companies such as Adidas, Domino’s Pizza, Ernst & Young, IBM, Reuters and Toyota into the virtual world. Second Life is a 3D virtual world inhabited by five million subscribers, which boasts a $2bn (£1bn) economy.

FFW partner David Naylor said: “The law doesn’t stop outside Second Life and the legal issues raised are challenging.”

Naylor has been instrumental in launching FFW’s virtual office after looking into the legal issues in Second Life.

He said the virtual office could be used as a communications channel for internal means and for clients. The office has meeting rooms that are all decked out for seminars.

It can also be used to reach out to communities which use Second Life, such as undergraduates, who might not normally be reached by FFW.

Naylor said clients such as Accenture and the BBC are moving in to Second Life and will need legal advice on the new world. He also hopes the office will be a good PR tool. Second Life’s currency is Linden dollars, but these can be exchanged for US dollars, meaning that people are living off their earnings from Second Life. Around $300,000 (£149,800) is being exchanged with Linden dollars every day.

FFW’s IP-heavy practice would be the obvious beneficiary of the Second Life office, but there are other issues, including tax, competition, defamation, privacy, fraud and even employment.