Practical and effective social media for lawyers

Scott MacMullan, The Daily Record Newswire

This is about how lawyers use social media in comparison to how I think lawyers should use social media to leverage relationships and, most importantly, build friendships.

Facebook announced that they are shipping the Oculus Rift, one of the first virtual reality machines for the masses. But what aspect of virtual reality is “social”?

Facebook’s CEO and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, addressed that question a year ago in announcing Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift.

“This is really a new communication platform,” he wrote. “By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life.

“Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”

“Virtual reality” is essentially a computer-generated simulation of real life via sight, sound and touch.

There is a difference between virtual reality and what’s called augmented reality, which shows an enhanced version of the real world around you. For example, you might be looking at a gas pump’s price in real life but are also given cheaper options nearby in your vision.

The Google Glass device, which resemble glasses, is a version of augmented reality.

So how can lawyers use virtual reality in their practice?

First thing that comes to mind is a demonstrative exhibit. Instead of using the traditional PowerPoint or whiteboard, you can have people put on virtual reality sets and actually almost be at the crime scene, accident or whatever else is disputed.

For depositions, lawyers can have jurors put on virtual reality headsets and almost be in the same room as the testimony. This would be much more interesting than the traditional, boring and long reading of their testimony that commonly takes place.

High-profile public trials, such as the Freddie Gray cases, could be held in the jurisdiction where the alleged crime occurred but jurors in other jurisdictions wearing virtual reality could be deciding the trial..

Settlement packages to insurance companies could include a virtual story to make the damages more compelling.

Meetings with clients in faraway locations could become more real and more personable than the tradition video meetings. You can shake someone’s hand in virtual reality and feel as if you are in the same room as them.

“Virtual reality will allow litigation and trial lawyers to tell better stories,” says Mitch Jackson, a former California trial lawyer of the year known as the “Streaming Lawyer.”

“Whether our efforts are focused on a single mediator or a jury of 12, for the first time we will be able to take our audience by the virtual hand and walk them through a crime scene, in real time or recorded, so they can understand and appreciate a situation or experience.

“When it comes to developing new business,” he added, “imagine how powerful it will be for your potential clients to watch you in real time (or recorded) mediating a case, arbitrating a claim or giving a closing argument. Lawyers who live stream this VR experience will stand out above all the noise.”

Social virtual reality is inevitable. And it’s going to change the way we practice law.