Ethan Katsh, Founder

Ethan Katsh | Berkman Klein Center

Founder, National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution
Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Co-author (with Orna Rabinovich-Einy) of Digital Justice: Technology and the Internet of Disputes (2017, Oxford University Press)
Recipient of  2017 D’Alemberte-Raven Award  from the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution

Professor Katsh is widely recognized as the founder of the field of online dispute resolution (ODR). Along with Janet Rifkin, he directed 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 ADR, co-edited Online Dispute Resolution: Theory and Practice (2nd ed., 2021)  and, with Orna Rabinovich-Einy published  Digital Justice:Technology and the Internet of Disputes (Oxford University Press, 2017). The frequently mentioned metaphor of technology as a “Fourth Party” was first proposed in Katsh and Rifkin’s Online Dispute Resolution (2001).

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.

During 2010-2011, he served as 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 and is co-editor of the International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution. Professor Katsh has served as principal online dispute resolution consultant for the US Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), a federal agency mandated to provide mediation in Freedom of Information Act disputes. He has also advised the Natioal Mediation Board in its resolution of airline and railroad disputes. His principal current research involves the resolution and prevention of healthcare disputes. and identifying new paradigms in the field of dispute resolution.

Since 1996, Professor Katsh has been involved in many activities related to online dispute resolution. 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. From 2004 – 2010, Professor Katsh was co-Principal Investigator, with Professors Lee Osterweil, Lori Clarke and Dr. Norman Sondheimer of the UMass Department of Computer Science, of three National Science Foundation funded projects to model processes of online dispute resolution. This work was coordinated with the United States National Mediation Board.

In 2014-2015, Professor Katsh was appointed an  Affiliate of Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Professor Katsh received the Chancellor’s Medal and gave the University of Massachusetts Distinguished Faculty Lecture in October 2006.

Some recent publications include

  • Ethan Katsh, “Comments on Artificikal Intelligence,” International Journal on Online Dispute Resolution (2022)
  • Wing, Martinez, Katsh and Rule, “Designing Ethical Online Dispute Resolution Systems: The Rise of the Fourth Party,” in Symposium and Artificial Intelligence, Technology and Dispute Resolution, Negotiation Journal  (2021) p. 97
  • Daniel Rainey, Ethan Katsh and Mohamed Abdul Wahab, Online Dispute Resolution: Theory and Practice (2nd ed., 2021)
  • Mohamed Wahab and Ethan Katsh, ““Revolutionizing Technologies and the Use of Technology in International Arbitration: Innovation, Legitimacy, Prospects, and Challenges” in Piers and Aschauer, Arbitration in the Digital Age: The Brave New World of Arbitration (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press) 2018)
  • Orna Rabinovich-Einy and Ethan Katsh, “Blockchain and the Inevitability of Disputes,”  J. Disp. Resol. 47 (2019)
  • Orna Rabinovich and Ethan Katsh, “Lawyers and Online Negotiation” Negotiator’s Desk Reference (2018)
  • Ethan Katsh and Orna Rabinovich-Einy,“Digital Conflict and Digital Justice,” in Ian Macduff, ed.E Essays on Mediation: Dealing with Disputes in the 21st Century (Wolters Kluwer, 2016)
  • Orna Rabinovich-Einy and Ethan Katsh, “Access to digital justice: fair and efficient processes for the modern age,” Cardozoj,  J. Confict Resolution (2016)
  • Orna Rabinovich-Einy and Ethan Katsh, “Technology and the future of dispute systems designHarvard Negotiation. L. Rev. 17, 151 (2014