The impact of new technology on the practice of law has been seen by many as being no more significant than the introduction of the fax 10 years ago – an increase in immediate contact with colleagues and clients.
One of the aims of this book is to demonstrate that this idea is false. The client is increasingly able to obtain information alone and the successful digital lawyer will add value to the information, either by linking it to other relevant information or by presenting it in a better way.
Professor Katsh does not assume excessive knowledge of IT. Converts will find the book is structured around the types of technology the digital lawyer must become familiar with, starting with networking computers – the basis of the information highway – and concluding with hypertext, the method of linking places on the information highway, well known as the World Wide Web. Conversely, the IT-literate may find the introductions a little basic, but this should not stop them buying the book as the author quickly moves beyond basic technology to explain how an element of technology will affect the way lawyers serve their clients.
The conclusion of Katsh's book is that lawyers must reorient their approach to practice. Substantive law will also change. It is almost a cliche to say that the information highway erodes boundaries; material may be downloaded from a computer in California to one in, say, Singapore. But is it the community standards of California or Singapore which determine whether the material is obscene, or infringes copyright or rights of privacy etc? How does an international technology interact with law which is strictly territorial?
There are few answers yet, but this book states the questions well.