Legal Education in the Era of COVID-19: Putting Health, Safety and Equity First

77 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2020 Last revised: 18 Jan 2021

See all articles by Catherine J.K. Sandoval

Catherine J.K. Sandoval

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Patricia A. Cain

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Stephen F. Diamond

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Allen Hammond

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Jean C. Love

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Stephen Smith

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Solmaz Nabipour

Stanford University - Department of Anesthesiology; Santa Clara University School of Law

Date Written: Jan 17, 2021

Abstract

This Article’s interdisciplinary analysis of scientific studies of COVID-19 and the limits of mitigation measures while vaccine distribution sputters in 2021, examines American legal education during the COVID-19 pandemic, and recommends online education to put health, safety, and equity first. Legal education forms part of America’s Critical Infrastructure whose continuity is important to the economy, public safety, and United States national security. This article’s analysis concludes that gathering adults indoors in physical classes is a high-risk activity during this pandemic. The lengthy timeline necessary to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States and globally and the emergence of more infectious COVID-19 variants elongates the period during which in-person education remains risky and online education is the safer option. This pandemic and the prospect of future viral pandemics underscore the urgency of developing a safety culture in legal education, concomitant with effective health and safety precautions that consider community, as well as campus, health and safety.

The COVID-19 viral pandemic has exposed the equity and safety culture gap in American legal education. COVID-19 infection risks serious illness, long-lasting complications, and death, and has preyed on America’s inequities. African-Americans, Native Americans, Latinx Americans, older Americans, and those with certain underlying health conditions including pregnant women face more peril from COVID-19 infection including higher levels of hospitalization and death. This article theorizes that the hybrid educational model undermines diversity and inclusion that supports educational dialogue and first amendment values as those participating in person or online separate by race, ethnicity, tribe, age, and health, reflecting COVID-19’s inequitable risks. Consistent with the ethical standards expected of lawyers and law schools, this Article recommends American law schools conduct educational programs online during the COVID-19 pandemic and develop a safety culture to foster health, safety, robust educational dialogue, and equity.

Keywords: COVID-19, legal education, equity, health, safety, safety culture, ethics, diversity, diversity and inclusion, educational dialogue, first, amendment, online education, pandemic, pandemic response, educational models, science-based analysis, ethical decision-making, public health, education

JEL Classification: I12, I14,I18, I23, I24, I28, K32, K40, K00, Z18

Suggested Citation

Sandoval, Catherine J.K. and Cain, Patricia A. and Diamond, Stephen F. and Hammond, Allen and Love, Jean C. and Smith, Stephen and Nabipour, Solmaz, Legal Education in the Era of COVID-19: Putting Health, Safety and Equity First (Jan 17, 2021). Catherine Sandoval, Patricia Cain, Steve Diamond, Allen S. Hammond, IV, Jean Love, Steve Smith, Solmaz Nabipour, M.D., Legal Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Put Health, Safety and Equity First, SANTA CLARA LAW REVIEW, Vol. 61 (forthcoming, Spring 2021)., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3660221 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3660221

Catherine J.K. Sandoval (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

Patricia A. Cain

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

Stephen F. Diamond

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

Allen Hammond

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

Jean C. Love

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

Stephen Smith

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

Solmaz Nabipour

Stanford University - Department of Anesthesiology ( email )

CA
United States

Santa Clara University School of Law

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

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