By M. Ethan Katsh
The world of law is a world of information. Rules, judgments, decisions, interpretations, and agreements all involve using and communicating information. Today, we are experiencing a significant transition, from letters fixed on paper to information stored electronically. The digital era, where information is created, stored, and communicated electronically, is quickly approaching, if not already here. The future of law will no longer be found in impressive buildings and leather-bound books, but in small pieces of silicon, in streams of light, and in millions of miles of wires and cable. It will be a world of new relationships and greater possibilities for individual and group communication, an environment where the value of information increases as it is shared. In Law in a Digital world, M. Ethan Katsh explores how these new technologies will alter one of our most central institutions. He considers the different ways in which people will not only electronically read and write, but also interact with our vast storehouses of legal knowledge and information. He envisions how sounds and pictures will play into the largely imageless print world of law, and looks at the future importance of graphic and nontextual communication. He explores how the flexible, personalized organization of data will transform the way we gather information, and whether information can or cannot be contained, raising questions of copyright and privacy. What happens to the law when information is more plentiful and accessible? What happens to those people who suddenly have access to information never before available? Does the use of information in a new form change the institution, the user, and those who come in contact with the user? And, what role does the lawyer play in all of this? For citizens, for lawyers, for all those who will be part of the digital world rushing toward us, Katsh answers these questions while considering the implications of this new era.