Private Institutions in a Digital Legal Framework
Economists have long understood the importance of specialization, cooperation, and trade, along with innovation and entrepreneurship, in creating economic gains for individuals and society as a whole. While these activities are sometimes fully self-organizing, in many cases they depend on social institutions to provide a framework of reliable expectations in which to flourish. Helping law improve its support for innovators and entrepreneurs is a core project of the Law Lab, and a key target for this improvement is bringing the opportunities of the digital world to the process of private institutional design and implementation.
The Law Lab is working on a number of initiatives to develop the new field of Digital Institutions. Scholars such as Lessig, Clippinger, Susskind and Benkler have envisioned a future where code is law and where new forms of entrepreneurship can evolve. Combining the structuring possibilities of digital code with the worldwide reach of the social web and personal digital devices creates an astonishing opportunity for unleashing the power of private economic institutions into the digital age. Missing are the legal and institutional elements that will permit a "Cambrian Explosion" in innovative cooperation on the web, via cell phones, and other innovative and integrative technologies, such as Facebook and the iPhone. The Law Lab provides a focus for creating these missing pieces of the puzzle.