Corporate law firms need to get serious about their metaverse content marketing plans or risk falling behind their competitors
If you’re a regular reader of any publications in the ALM/Law.com family, in recent months you’ve likely read your fair share of articles about law firms setting up shop in the metaverse and what the metaverse might have in store for law firms and the legal industry.
At one end of the spectrum, there’s the entrepreneurial New Jersey personal injury law firm Grungo Colarulo that, in December 2021, planted its flag as the first personal injury law firm to open an office in the metaverse. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s ArentFox Schiff. In February 2022, the firm staked its claim as the first Big Law firm to buy property in the metaverse in order to establish an office on it.
I have no doubt that personal injury law firms like Grungo Colarulo and other law firms with consumer-facing legal practices like criminal defense, family law, and estate planning will embrace the metaverse with open arms just like they’ve embraced search engine optimization, social media, YouTube, and other developments in legal content marketing and thought leadership marketing that have allowed them to meet potential clients where they’re at.
As for corporate law firms’ embracing of the metaverse, well, I’m not as optimistic. Putting ArentFox Schiff aside for a moment, corporate law firms might not think the ways they typically attract and land clients, and then nurture those relationships, will translate to the metaverse. For that reason, they may not be willing to explore their metaverse options, let alone invest meaningful resources in their metaverse presence.
Why do corporate law firms need to get serious about content marketing in the metaverse?
But as we’ve seen with blogs, email marketing, YouTube, podcasts, social media, and just about every other new technology platform corporate law firms can use for marketing and business development purposes, the clients who hire corporate firms will consume content on those platforms for both personal and professional reasons.
That’s why corporate law firms need to get serious about their metaverse content marketing plans. If the big money betting on the emergence of the metaverse is any indication—Meta, the parent company of Facebook, stated it was spending $10 billion on its metaverse division in 2021 alone, and plans to spend more “for the next several years”—within the coming decade the metaverse could be as ingrained in our daily lives as those technology platforms I just mentioned already are.
It might be tempting for rainmaking equity partners with books of business built on golf courses, inside suites at sporting events, and through speaking engagements at industry events to look at the metaverse as the latest fad attracting the attention of teens, twentysomethings, and thirtysomethings with too much time on their hands. Skeptical that their current clients—or their ideal future clients—will be active in the metaverse, those partners might shoot down their marketing or business development colleagues’ ideas for marketing their firms in the metaverse.
But if those partners will qualify for pensions or some other continuing compensation from their firms upon retirement, they might want to reconsider their positions. Those teens, twentysomethings, and thirtysomethings today will become general counsels, executives, and startup founders tomorrow. And when they hold those positions, they will research and engage with potential lawyers and law firms on technology platforms they spend time on and have long been comfortable with, including, likely, the metaverse.
Obviously, corporate law firms that don’t begin marketing themselves in the metaverse today aren’t prohibited from doing so next year or the year after. But as we’ve seen with Web 2.0 social media platforms, early adopters of technology platforms often see benefits from being among the first active users of those platforms, including favorable publicity for their presence, a quicker and easier path to organic growth, and an earlier understanding of the best practices for maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of those platforms.
What might corporate law firms’ content marketing efforts look like in the metaverse?
Once a corporate law firm has decided the metaverse is promising enough to justify devoting at least some marketing and business development time and resources to, the firm must determine the kinds of content it should create, and then get started doing so.
(Even before creating content for the metaverse, a corporate law firm will want to first buy land in the metaverse so that it can distribute its content from a metaverse office it builds on that land. I’m not going to cover that process in this column, but it is a prerequisite for establishing a metaverse content marketing strategy. According to media reports, LawCity.com, an emerging metaverse “legal district,” might be a good first stop for a corporate law firm looking to enter the metaverse.)
As for the kinds of content corporate law firms should create, the simple answer is that, for now, multimedia and interactive content appears to be the way to go. A firm’s 1800-word client alert is likely to land with a thud if it is published in the metaverse as an 1800-word written client alert. But if there are alternative and compelling ways to visually convey the information in that client alert, well then, that’s a different story.
And that, dear reader, is the rub with corporate law firms’ content marketing and thought leadership efforts in the metaverse.
On one hand, the content a firm publishes in the metaverse must be compelling and relevant to its target audiences, such as its current and prospective clients, referral sources, and attorneys and staff—just like the firm’s content must be when published outside the metaverse.
But on the other hand, the metaverse is an immersive virtual environment where images, videos, and audio will be more engaging than large blocks of text.
This brings with it good news and bad news. The bad news is that content that’s heavy on images, video, and audio is likely to require more time and people to create, edit, and publish than an 1800-word written client alert. For this reason, a firm may need to ensure its in-house content creation team is structured and trained to convert traditional content marketing and thought leadership marketing material into metaverse-friendly formats.
But therein lies the good news. Much of the marketing and business development content that corporate law firms already produce can be converted into compelling metaverse content. The key is reimagining that content to be more immersive and visually compelling.
Take webinars, for example. A firm could take the audio from a webinar and present it as being spoken by avatars of the attorneys or staff who are presenting the webinar. The accompanying visuals from the webinar could be redesigned to be 3D or animated to match the immersive nature of the metaverse.
Or take the prototypical 1800-word written client alert I’ve mentioned a few times. Instead of telling the reader of the written client alert about the legal development discussed in it, in the metaverse a firm could show a visitor to its metaverse office that legal development. Imagine a multimedia client alert discussing a court decision about a trademark infringement case in which the original mark and the alleged infringing mark are shown in 3D, with the case being discussed by avatars of the client alert’s authors using their actual voices.
Even a bylined article about, say, recent private equity transactions in the healthcare industry could come alive with immersive graphics showing locations of the acquired facilities, faces of the executives or new board members who will be in place after a transaction, and animated infographics showing the deal size and the number of physicians and other employees who work at the acquired facilities. Narrating the presentation could be avatars of one or more of the article’s authors.
Once a corporate law firm’s lawyers and marketing and business development teams see their marketing and business development content from a different perspective—a “How can we make this content come alive in the metaverse?” perspective—they will realize the possibilities for creating content in the metaverse aimed at their target audiences are boundless.
These firms can continue creating content about the topics they’re creating content about today, but they’ll need to present it in the metaverse in a way that is visually appealing and compelling.
The next frontier for corporate law firms’ content marketing efforts
We are, of course, in the early days of the metaverse. It very much has the feel of the internet in the mid to late 1990s and social media in the early to mid-2000s. There’s no telling what the future holds for it. Will the metaverse become a part of our daily lives like the internet and social media? Or will it flame out like HD DVDs and the short-lived revival of 3D television last decade?
While I’m betting on the former outcome, no matter what the future has in store for the metaverse, it—and its virtually unlimited potential for law firms to connect with their clients, referral sources, lawyers and staff, and the public—is here. Your firm need not dive headfirst into it right now, but it should begin dipping its toes in. That could come in the form of your lawyers and marketing/business development teams educating themselves about the metaverse and its potential, or your colleagues firing up Decentraland or Meta’s Horizon Worlds on a computer or virtual reality headset and taking a few minutes to walk around inside it.
Today, a small group of lawyers and law firms, like Grungo Colarulo and ArentFox Schiff, see enormous potential in the metaverse and have begun investing significant time and resources on their metaverse strategy despite it not yet having been adopted by the masses. I expect most corporate lawyers and law firms, however, to take a “wait and see” approach, with some eventually dragged kicking and screaming to the metaverse by their marketing and business development teams out of a fear they’re falling behind their competitors.
For those lawyers and firms planning on taking a wait and see approach, a word of warning. Do you remember how it felt when your competitors flocked to the internet, blogs, and social media in the 1990s and 2000s before your firm did, forcing your firm to play catch-up?
If your firm waits too long before getting serious about its metaverse content marketing plans, it might be forced to, once again, play catch up while its competitors enjoy the advantages that come with being on the early side of establishing a presence on what might be the next transformational technology platform.
Wayne Pollock, a former Am Law 50 senior litigation associate, is the founder of Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm, and the Law Firm Editorial Service, a content strategy and ghostwriting service for lawyers and their law firms. The Law Firm Editorial Service helps Big Law and boutique law firm partners, and their firms, grow their practices by collaborating with them to strategize and ethically ghostwrite book-of-business-building marketing and business development content.
Reprinted with permission from the May 3, 2022, edition of The Legal Intelligencer © 2022 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877–257–3382 or email@example.com.
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