You are here

Ethan Katsh

Director, National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution
Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies, University of Massachusetts
2014-2015 Affiliate Researcher, Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society

Professor Katsh is widely recognized as the founder of the field of online dispute resolution (ODR). Along with Janet Rifkin, he conducted the eBay Pilot Project in 1999 that led to eBay’s current system that handles over sixty million disputes each year. With Professor Rifkin, he wrote Online Dispute Resolution: Resolving Conflicts in Cyberspace (2001), the first book about ODR. Since then, he has published numerous articles about ODR and co-edited Online Dispute Resolution: Theory and Practice, which received the International Institute for Conflict Resolution book award for 2012.

Professor Katsh is a graduate of the Yale Law School and was one of the first legal scholars to recognize the impact new information technologies would have on law. In The Electronic Media and the Transformation of Law (Oxford University Press, 1989) and Law in a Digital World (Oxford University Press, 1995, he predicted many of the changes that were to come to law and the legal profession. His articles have appeared in the Yale Law Journal, the University of Chicago Legal Forum, and other law reviews and legal periodicals. His scholarly contribution in the field of law and technology has been the subject of a Review Essay in Law and Social Inquiry.

Professor Katsh has served as principal dispute resolution consultant for the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), a federal agency mandated to provide mediation in Freedom of Information Act disputes. He is currently assisting the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) in a study of disputes involving electronic medical records. During 2010-2011, he was the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Haifa (Israel). He has been Visiting Professor of Law and Cyberspace at Brandeis University, is on the Board of Advisors of the Democracy Design Workshop, the legal advisory board of the InSites E-governance and Civic Engagement Project, the Board of Editors of Conflict Resolution Quarterly, and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He was principal dispute resolution advisor to and is Chairman of the Board of Advisors of His principal current research concern involves issues related to health care and, more particularly, to disputes over electronic health records.

Since 1996, Professor Katsh has been involved in a series of activities related to online dispute resolution. He participated in the Virtual Magistrate project and was founder and co-director of the Online Ombuds Office. In 1997, with support from the Hewlett Foundation, he and Professor Rifkin founded the National Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts. During the Summer of 1999, he co-founded, which later worked with eResolution to become one of the first four providers accredited by ICANN to resolve domain name disputes. From 2004 - 2010, Professor Katsh was co-Principal Investigator, with Professors Lee Osterweil and Lori Clarke and Dr. Norman Sondheimer of the UMass Department of Computer Science, of two National Science Foundation funded projects to model processes of online dispute resolution. This work was also coordinated with the United States National Mediation Board. Professor Katsh is currently co-principal investigator in an NSF-funded project "The Fourth Party: Improving Computer-Mediated Deliberation through Cognitive, Social and Emotional Support." The frequently mentioned metaphor of technology as a “Fourth Party” was first proposed in Katsh and Rifkin’s Online Dispute Resolution (2001).

Professor Katsh has chaired the International Forums on Online Dispute Resolution, held in Geneva in 2002 and 2003, Melbourne in 2004, Cairo in 2006, Liverpool in 2007, Hong Kong in 2007, Victoria (Canada) in 2008, Haifa (Israel) in 2009, Buenos Aires in 2010, Chennai (India) in 2011, Prague in 2012,  Montreal in 2013 and Silicon Valley in 2014. ODR 2015 will be held in New York June 3-5, 2015. Professor Katsh received the Chancellor's Medal and gave the University of Massachusetts Distinguished Faculty Lecture in October 2006. Recent articles include "Digital Justice: Reshaping Boundaries in an Onine Dispute Resolution Environment" in the International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution (2014) (with Orna Rabinovich-Einy); "Technology and the Future of Dispute Systems Design" in the Harvard Negotiation Law Review (2012) (with Orna Rabinovich-Einy) and"Is There An App For That? Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and A New Environment Of Conflict Prevention And Resolution," 74 Law and Contemporary Problems 31 (2011).


All rights reserved 2011, the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution