The COVID-19 viral pandemic exposed equity and safety culture gaps in American legal education. Legal education forms part of America’s Critical Infrastructure whose continuity is important to the economy, public safety, democracy, and the national security of the United States. To address the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future viral pandemics and safety risks, this article recommends law schools develop a safety culture to foster health, safety, robust educational dialogue, and equity. To guide safety-and-equity-centered decision-making and promote effective legal education during and following the COVID-19 pandemic, this article contends legal education must put health, safety, and equity first. It proposes an ethical framework for legal education that centers diversity and inclusion as the foundation of robust educational dialogue. This article’s interdisciplinary analysis of COVID-19 scientific studies recommends law schools follow the science and exercise extreme caution before convening classes in person or in a hybrid fashion. COVID-19 infection risks serious illness, long-lasting complications, and death. It 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 higher levels of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 infection. COVID-19’s inequitable risks may separate those participating in class in person, or online, by race, ethnicity, tribe, age, and health. Law schools must ensure that during the COVID-19 health emergency, hybrid or in-person pedagogical models do not undermine diversity and inclusion that supports educational dialogue and First Amendment values. The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the imperative of putting health, safety, and equity first in legal education.
Sandoval, Catherine J.K., et al,
Legal Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Put Health, Safety and Equity First,
61 Santa Clara L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/lawreview/vol61/iss2/2