On Monday night, CES, the massive consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, kicked off in high gear with a keynote address by Dr. Roland Busch, the CEO of Siemens AG. Siemens is a leader in various technological areas, including automation, healthcare, and mobility, and has always been at the forefront of cutting-edge solutions. It is a technology company in every sense of the word.
That’s why when its CEO talks about how Siemens solves problems and develops innovative solutions, you take notice. The thrust of Dr. Busch’s presentation was the opportunity the Metaverse, or as he called it, the industrial Metaverse, presents. Dr. Busch’s keynote highlighted three key elements of the industrial Metaverse: digital twins, software-defined automation, and AI-powered data analysis.
The Industrial Metaverse
The concept of the industrial Metaverse involves creating virtual models to test and refine projects before actual implementation. Coupled with Gen AI’s rapid software modification capabilities and data analysis, this approach allows for the perfection of designs in a virtual space, leading to efficient and cost-effective real-world applications. This methodology isn’t just theoretical; it has practical applications as seen in the accelerated development of COVID-19 vaccines.
Because the model is virtual and can be easily manipulated, it is easy, quick, and cheap to test, iterate, and perfect. Problems can be found, analyzed, and fixed quickly — or, better yet, discovered before they arise. And without serious consequences. The Metaverse provides a unique platform for both testing and training, enhancing performance in reality.
Using the Metaverse for Legal
So, this works great with products and tangible things, but can it work with personal performance? Could we use the Metaverse to enable lawyers, for example, to perfect their courtroom performance before they go live in the real world?
For lawyers, the implications and opportunities are significant. As I have discussed before, young lawyers simply aren’t getting the courtroom and trial experience that litigators used to get. There are simply fewer trials. And when there are trials, the costs are so high that letting inexperienced lawyers do much is too great a risk. So, the more experienced lawyers take over.
The problem, of course, is that at some point, there won’t be enough older lawyers to do what trial work and litigation there is. At that point, we will have even fewer trials. Having fewer trials is a problem since you can’t assess trial exposure without current trial data.
Without trial data, there is no accurate way to determine the risk of the case and its true value. Without knowing the trial risk, you can’t evaluate settlement value or even know what resources should be allocated to the case.
Sound familiar? Just as the use of the industrial Metaverse can be used to test out an actual product, it could also be used to test and hone the courtroom skills of younger lawyers. It could provide a safe place where they could practice, and gain experience and confidence.
Creation of the Courtroom Metaverse
To create this courtroom Metaverse, we would first need a realistic digital courtroom. Dr. Busch described technology developed by Pixar that creates realistic digital places. It should not be hard to do the same thing for courtrooms. Given access, a digital courtroom, just like the courtroom where a particular trial or hearing would take place, could be created.
Next, it would be necessary to create realistic avatars of the judge, perhaps a jury, opposing counsel, etc. While these avatars might not be a particular person but a composite, the technology already exists to create realistic avatars. As I previously wrote, Meta has already developed the technology that can create avatars that closely resemble what we really look like. Watch a video podcast interview of Mark Zuckerberg by Lex Friedman to see how this works. Friedman and Zuckerberg were not in the exact physical location, but when they were videoed in the Metaverse, it was almost like they were together. The faces were realistic, down to the movement of eyes and eyebrows and facial movements.
Then, it would be a matter of placing the avatars in the virtual courtroom. This approach isn’t just conjecture; I witnessed a product demonstration at CES showcasing realistic avatars in a virtual board meeting.
I asked Mitch Jackson, a California trial lawyer and mediator who uses the Metaverse extensively, about the present day capability of the technology. Mitch told me that even today the technology exists. “The courtroom is very real and the avatars are amazing. The tools to collaborate work just like a real court room… While you can access the venue from a laptop or desktop it feels 99% real with a headset on.”
Honing Skills in the Metaverse
Imagine a realistic digital courtroom in which young lawyers could hone their skills within a true-to-life setting. Younger lawyers could practice making an opening in a case. Or examining a witness on direct or even cross.
And with Gen AI and analytics, lawyers could craft arguments that could resonate with a jury or judge and identify weaknesses in opposition strategies. The lawyers could then practice applying this knowledge in the virtual courtroom.
Of course, having a full-blown trial simulation may be more than could be realistically accomplished in one sitting. But targeted practice sessions in bite sized increments could easily be achieved. And real time feedback by more experienced lawyers could be provided in ways simply not achievable in the real world.
The same tools could be used by more experienced lawyers as well. Despite thorough preparation, trials are always a roll of the dice. Lawyers don’t get do-overs when it comes to the court. But using a courtroom Metaverse would provide just that.
For example, it is easy to see how a witness could be mock examined in a virtual courtroom setting with a jury present. Both lawyer and witness could practice in front of a jury, gauging jurors’ reaction and then tweaking the examination. According to Jackson, “add AI voice venue creation (‘bring up exhibit 1’or ‘take us to the location of the building where the matter took place’) and things get really interesting.”
The same could be done with opening and closing statements.
All too often, lawyers, out of hubris or just shortsightedness, fail to iterate and adapt what other industries have developed. Here’s a chance to do just that and solve the inexperience problem. Borrowing from what companies like Siemens are doing and then applying the concepts to legal may be an effective way to train lawyers and get better results for clients.
Stephen Embry is a lawyer, speaker, blogger and writer. He publishes TechLaw Crossroads, a blog devoted to the examination of the tension between technology, the law, and the practice of law.