Paul L. Caron

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Law In The Time Of COVID-19

Katharina Pistor (Columbia), Law in the Time of COVID-19:

Law CovidThe COVID-19 crisis has ended and upended lives around the globe. In addition to killing over 160,000 people, more than 35,000 in the United States alone, its secondary effects have been as devastating. These secondary effects pose fundamental challenges to the rules that govern our social, political, and economic lives. These rules are the domain of lawyers. Law in the Time of COVID-19 is the product of a joint effort by members of the faculty of Columbia Law School and several law professors from other schools.

This volume offers guidance for thinking about some the most pressing legal issues the pandemic has raised, especially (though not exclusively) for law in the United States: from the rights of prison inmates who live under conditions that make them exceptionally vulnerable to the highly contagious virus to the options for contracting parties who now face circumstances that make it impossible for them to live up to their past commitments. The book does not give legal advice. Instead, it identifies critical legal issues that affect many peoples’ lives, offers fresh perspectives for thinking about those issues, and provides guidance to legislatures and policy makers about the legal challenges ahead.

Gillian Lester (Dean, Columbia), Foreward:

The spread of the new coronavirus in the spring of 2020 upended nearly every aspect of life as we know it. On March 11, as contagion traversed the globe with shocking speed, scale, and severity, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

That same day, Columbia Law School began moving our entire curriculum online—more than 300 courses—for the first time in our history. Not only did we transform our teaching, but our faculty also turned its gaze outward, to the plight of individuals and communities in the United States and elsewhere facing new and urgent challenges wrought by the pandemic.

Against this backdrop, a group of colleagues joined forces to publish an e-book addressing myriad legal questions the coronavirus pandemic would introduce. Scholars across the faculty drew on their deep expertise to identify and examine a range of vital legal issues implicated by COVID-19. They were joined in this effort by a few academics from other schools. What’s more, Columbia Law students jumped at the opportunity to participate.

Mindful of the need to match the fast-moving impact of the virus, our professors worked at record speed to turn their analyses and insights into the essays that make up this collection. After just one month, we present, “Law in the Time of COVID-19”. Covering a host of timely topics, including prisoners’ rights, elections, privacy, public health law, force majeure in contracts, bankruptcy, and more, we believe this reference guide may be the first of its kind produced by a law school.

Columbia Law School offers these insights to the legal community and the public as our contribution to understanding and confronting the profound disruption to our society and our legal system of COVID-19.

I am grateful to my colleague, Katharina Pistor, for her foresight and fortitude in launching this e-book project, and deeply appreciative of all those who contributed to this important undertaking. We hope you will find it valuable.

Book Club, Coronavirus, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink