New Specialty: Cyberlaw

Volume 65 - September 24, 2001

A new field is emerging in the legal profession: Cyberlaw. More lawyers are specializing in the area of computer laws and some law schools have begun offering training in this area. Harvard Law School, for instance, has a cyberlaw research center, which deals with everything from e-commerce to privacy and antitrust. The University of Florida offers a special seminar on computers and the law.

Response has been overwhelming. The Harvard program began in 1997 with 25 students; this fall hundreds are on the waiting list.

Robert Kain of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is one of many whose career path diverged after graduation. He attended Vanderbilt Law School in Tennessee and became a patent specialist. Now most of his work is in cyberlaw, focusing on "intellectual property." That’s trademarks and copyrights, a burgeoning area of uncharted interest with the growth of the Internet and such activities as file-swapping and music copying.

"No one knew what cyber meant when I graduated," Kain said. "I never imagined it would be like this."

The field is growing because almost any situation can be a precedent. The Internet doesn’t have many of the written rules and laws that govern other areas of commerce and information.

"It's sort of the old Wild West," said lawyer Bruce Fischman of Miami. "We try to tame it."