Diversity & Inclusion
Legal / VR

These attorneys are using virtual reality to ‘demystify the courtroom’

Matthew Stubenberg and William Buschur talk about their video-first series with the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. “I found that the VR experience really gets you into the courtroom itself in ways that a 2D stream just can’t.”

Inside the courtroom. (Screenshot via Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service)

Technical.ly's Editorial Calendar explores a different topic each month. The March 2017 topic explores augmented and virtual reality. See AR/VR coverage from all five of our East Coast markets here.

Matthew Stubenberg and William Buschur have a new way for lawyers to immerse themsevles in complex legal matters. The duo created created virtual-reality videos to help their fellow attorneys prepare for handling cases involving civil issues.

The training videos simulate a hearing, enabling attorneys to get a taste of what it’s like inside a courtroom, as well as all of the procedural matters. Plus, it keeps the trainees from getting distracted during training.
“I found that the VR experience really gets you into the courtroom itself in ways that a 2D stream just can’t,” said Buschur.
For Stubenberg, who previously launched Maryland Expungement to help make legitimately clearing a criminal record easier, it’s the latest use of tech to lower the barrier to entry to the legal process.
“It kind of demystifies the courtroom,” he said.

The project got rolling after the Young Lawyers Section of the Maryland State Bar Association funded purchase of a 360-degree camera. The Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, where Stubenberg is IT director, became the first organization to utilize the VR videos. They filmed the videos at the University of Maryland law school in Baltimore.
They are hoping to use the videos to encourage young attorneys to represent low-income Marylanders. The videos focus on training in expungement of criminal records, guardianship, family law and consumer protection.
Providing access to the attorneys was a consideration. The videos are available on YouTube, where they can be viewed through a phone with a device like Google Cardboard.
While virtual reality is gaining popularity in the tech world, there are signs in the project that it remains in the “emerging” category. Stubenberg said there is still a learning curve with some lawyers to explain what exactly a virtual reality training video is. Bushcur, who handled editing, navigated challenges such as directing the viewer’s attention to the right spot.

As he put it, “There isn’t a manual for how to do virtual reality video yet,” he said.
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