COVID-19: Community Updates and Resources
This summer, some Albany Law School students will study how the COVID-19 pandemic makes an impact on the practice of law—as it happens in real time.
The course, COVID-19: Law in a Time of Pandemic, taught virtually by President and Dean Alicia Ouellette, gives students a forum to dive into the vast, varied, and fluid legal issues surrounding the public health crisis.
“There are going to be opportunities for students to think about things differently. The practice of law is changing, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered so many areas of law, from housing to insurance to criminal justice issues,” Dean Ouellette said. “Students will work on creating an understanding of several areas, from new government programs to understanding the law behind the battles between state, federal, and local governments.”
The one-credit course will meet on Monday afternoons. Each week will focus on a different area of law—such as small business relief legislation, questions around quarantine, and stay-at-home orders—with wiggle room to bring in guest speakers and to delve into any topics students might show interest in.
As a bioethics and health law scholar, Dean Ouellette is looking forward to applying the public health laws that were previously taught in a more hypothetical sense through a real-time lens.
“There’s a lot of precedent with the questions around quarantine or the public health questions. It’s similar to what I would have taught in a bioethics class, say the ethics of a pandemic,” she said. “It’s different though because it’s playing out in real time. Our understanding of what seemed unrealistic is much deeper now. This course will present an opportunity for all of us to dig a little deeper into the nuances of what we’re hearing about in the news.”
Students will also look into the implications on historically disadvantaged groups and the potential for social change.
“The pandemic is exposing longstanding social inequalities. It’s really what many of us knew, but we’re seeing how devastating it can be for some populations,” she said. “It’s not a happy subject but it’s a really important one and a way to rethink how we structure our society.”
Dean Ouellette’s summers are typically spent traveling to spread the good news about Albany Law School to alumni and attending conferences and events. Having to stay closer to home this year, she found a different way to make an impact on the student experience.
Due to popular demand, Dean Ouellette also plans to offer a “second run” of the course later this summer for alumni and friends of the law school—details to be announced.
“I love teaching. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to be in the classroom in this sense,” she said. “I think it will be fun and meaningful for the students—and for me, too.”