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Not so long ago, lawyers started 'appearing' in court wearing pajamas.
That's when judges first allowed appearances by phone. It has been a cost-saving innovation with limitations, of course, because you can only hear but not see what's going on in the courtroom.
But that was yesterday. Tomorrow, attorneys may put on a pair of virtual reality glasses and see everything as if they were really there -- and still wear pajamas.
VR may be in the future for courtroom lawyers, but it is already working for some law students. The University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law, for example, is shooting videos with 360-degree cameras to create virtual courtroom experiences.
"By introducing a camera with a 360-degree angle, I'm recording both the student as an attorney and the jury at the same time," said Ayyoub Ajmi, digital communications and learning initiatives librarian there.
"Later when they're looking back, they can look at their own performance and communication and also see how the jury interacts with whatever they've been saying without having to rely on more than one camera device."
The University of Oklahoma College of Law and the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law are also working on virtual reality courtrooms for students to practice real-life lawyering.
Jennifer Wondracek, director of legal educational technology at UNT Dallas College of Law, and Kenton Brice, director of technology innovation at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, spoke recently at the "Virtual Reality: Opportunities for Teaching and Using it in Law Practice" presentation at this year's ABA Techshow.
Wondracek said the idea came to her one day when she saw law students crowding outside a courtroom to use it for class, and it dawned on her that attorneys also need a place to practice their courtroom skills. "My thought was, well, why not create a virtual courtroom?" she posed.
Lawyers appearing in pajamas; law students arguing in virtual courtrooms ... what will be next? Robots going to law school?
Oh wait, that's already happening. How about robot judges ... in pajamas?
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