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New institute blends law, informatics

With two new joint degrees, Northern Kentucky University leads the country in connecting law students with the digital age.

The Chase Law and Informatics Institute at NKU held its first classes in August. “We want to pull together the study of informatics with the legal analysis of the contractual practices which are shaping business and commerce,” says Jon Garon, inaugural director of the Chase Law and Informatics Institute.

The institute offers two joint degrees; a Juris Doctor/Masters of Business Informatics and a Juris Doctor/ Masters of Health Informatics. No other law school in the country has these kinds of degrees. “There are a few schools that have law and technology programs,” Garon says. “With the convergence of the law school and the College of Informatics, we are really at a unique position. Our students will be fully immersed in the both the informatics world and the world of law ”

This means studying the rapidly changing field of law in the age of enormous amounts of data and ever-changing technology, including disruptive technologies. “A disruptive technology is something that is changing the way businesses interact with their customers,” Garon says. “For example, digital photography came around and completely reshaped the industry.”

With analog photography, ownership was simple. But, with digital files and the Internet, there are more questions about ownership and fair use than ever before. The technology fundamentally rewrote the social contract between the parties, so there has to be new law to govern that.

Garon is a perfect candidate to run the new institute because of his background in law and teaching. “Each step in my career has been a hands-on approach to how data and media and how they are reshaping the way we think, as well as the way we do business,” Garon says. He worked with companies as the Internet grew and worked with companies to hel them deal with the security of online health information.

As technology continues to evolve, there is an increasing need for companies, even at the small, family-owned level, to understand what they need to protect and how to do that. Garon hopes that the NKU institute will produce lawyers who understand how the worlds of law and information work together.

“We are developing a much more strategic lawyer. One who understands not only the technical aspects of a contract, but also is able to advise a company on their internal practices and their approach to legal issues,”  Garon says. “Our graduates will be the most flexible and most ready to develop processes to deal with the new world we live in.”  

By Evan Wallis
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