Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Deborah N. Archer (NYU), Caitlin Barry (Villanova), Lisa Bliss (Georgia State), G.S. Hans (Vanderbilt), Vida Johnson (Georgetown), Wilkes Kaas (Quinnipiac), Lynnise Pantin (Columbia), Kele Stewart (Miami), Priya Baskaran (American), Jennifer Fernandez (Penn), Crystal Grant (Duke), Anjum Gupta (Rutgers), Julia Hernandez (CUNY), Alexis Karteron (Rutgers) & Shobha Mahadev (Northwestern), Clinicians Reflect on COVID-19: Lessons Learned and Looking Beyond, 28 Clinical L. Rev. 15 (2021):
As a result of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, clinical faculty had to abruptly adapt their clinical teaching and case supervision practices to adjust to the myriad restrictions brought on by the pandemic. This brought specialized challenges for clinicians who uniquely serve as both legal practitioners and law teachers in the law school setting. With little support and guidance, clinicians tackled never before seen difficulties in the uncharted waters of running a clinical law practice during a pandemic.
In this report, we review the responses of 220 clinicians to survey questions relating to how law clinics and clinicians were treated by their institutions as they navigated these changes. Were clinical courses treated differently than other courses? Were clinical faculty treated differently than other faculty? Were some clinical courses treated differently than others? Did clinical faculty and staff experience pressure by their institutions to teach in-person or hybrid courses?
In addition to summarizing the findings to these questions, this report examines the disparate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on clinicians and sheds light on some of the distinct challenges they faced. The report concludes with a list of recommended actions that law schools may take to equip themselves to provide appropriate support for clinical faculty during inevitable future emergencies, emphasizing the importance of autonomy and discretion for clinicians; specialized attention for diverse and vulnerable clinicians; and the very serious ethical and legal obligations of clinical law practices.