April 19, 2023
The metaverse hosts a variety of opportunities for businesses, but it doesn’t come without legal implications. Find out how the metaverse is changing the landscape of work and what work in the metaverse could mean for the law.

What is The Metaverse?

The metaverse is an immersive virtual world where millions of people live, work, learn, shop, and interact with each other – all from the comfort of their couches in the physical world. The platform is often described to be similar to Roblox, but its use of real-world settings (augmented reality) makes it a more advanced social platform.

How Are Commercial Businesses Using the Metaverse?

Over time, commercial businesses have started expanding their workspace into the metaverse to evolve how they collaborate with their employees, customers, and clients. For example:

  • Law firms, including ArentFox Schiff and Gleiss Lutz’s, have bought real estate in the metaverse, such as The Sandbox and Decentraland, to build virtual office space and host virtual meetings with clients as 3D avatars.
  • Businesses like Deloitte Legal have started using the metaverse to train new employees in the form of work simulations and virtual office tours.
  • HSBC has also purchased real estate in The Sandbox in a bid to connect with entertainment and sporting communities and is reportedly developing a stadium to host virtual sporting events.
  • Home improvement retail company, Lowe’s is expanding into the metaverse to improve customers’ shopping experiences and offer them the opportunity to visualise prospective building projects.

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The Metaverse: Key Legal Issues

It is evident that the metaverse provides great opportunities for businesses, but its lack of legal governance also creates risks that lawyers and businesses must consider, especially when it comes to employees and employment law.

Discrimination in the Workforce

In the metaverse, employees can be in control of their work lifestyle and work from where they feel most comfortable. As Linklaters explains, it can also reduce unconscious bias as employees will be working in the ‘same medium’. However, there are also some downsides, as we have recently seen in the news. For example, there have been increasing reports of harassment and inappropriate conduct in the metaverse involving employees.

It has been acknowledged that avatars do not operate by themselves and so we can expect its users to be held responsible for abusive behaviours and be subjected to standard disciplinary rules, however, the question is to what extent will they be held legally accountable? Whilst laws like the Equality Act 2010 protect employees against discrimination, there is a concern from researchers that this legal protection will not be as easily implemented in the metaverse. For example, with users being able to create avatars with any characteristics that they like, it is uncertain to what extent laws protecting the person also extend to the avatar. Therefore, employers must ensure to implement a ‘safe-space’ model and monitor misconduct.

Health & Safety

There are also many health and safety concerns surrounding employees working in the metaverse. Longer virtual usage time can cause issues like (increased) fatigue, back pain, poorer eyesight, etc. There are also mental health concerns to consider: for example, working in the metaverse void of in-person human connections could exacerbate feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, etc (already associated with hybrid-working). Moreover, working from the comfort of a home desk could cause a lack of separation of home and work life for employees and cause them to feel obligated to be connected every waking moment – even resulting in addiction. Therefore, it is also important for businesses to react to the lack of legal frameworks with proactivity and empathy and create policies that protect its employees against these issues.

Find out more about key AI applications you need to understand.


To conclude, in order to successfully integrate their operations within the metaverse, commercial businesses must first identify the risks associated with it and implement frameworks, action plans and policies, to mitigate these risks.

One of the most affected groups will undoubtedly be employees and it is crucial that they are empowered and protected to ensure the success of any company’s digital transformation plan(s). There is much opportunity for law firms to lead the way with this and provide their clients with impactful and accurate guidance. For law firms, (and commercial businesses), this means developing a deep expertise in this growing market and staying on top of new developments/disruptions as time goes on.

Metaverse Questions

These are the kinds of questions you could be asked about the metaverse to test your commercial awareness:

  • What are some of the social and ethical concerns surrounding the integration of the metaverse?
  • Do you think the metaverse should be governed by a legal framework or by the discretionary powers of pre-existing laws?
  • Do you think the integration of the metaverse into everyday life is a good thing?
  • What do you think are some of its main pros and cons?
  • What challenges or opportunities do you think the metaverse provides the legal sector?
  • Are there any instances where you have seen the successful use of the metaverse?
  • Are there any other industries that could draw value from integrating with the metaverse?

Learn more about how technology is being used in the commercial world.

By Precious Odunaiya 


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