The COVID-19 pandemic surfaced and deepened entrenched preexisting health injustice in the United States. Racialized, marginalized, poor, and hyper-exploited populations suffered disproportionately negative outcomes due to the pandemic. The structures that generate and sustain health inequity in the United States—including in access to justice, housing, health care, employment, and education—have produced predictably disparate results. The authors, law school clinicians and professors involved with medical-legal partnerships, discuss the lessons learned by employing a health justice framework in teaching students to address issues of health inequity during the pandemic. The goal of health justice is to eliminate health disparities that are linked to structural causes like subordination, discrimination, and poverty. This Article suggests six maxims for law school clinics to advance health justice, centering on themes of transdisciplinary collaboration, upstream interventions, adaptability, racial justice, systemic advocacy, and community-based strategies. The discussion draws on analyses of the scholarly literature on medical-legal partnerships and examples from the authors’ clinics. These maxims for health justice are particularly relevant during a global public health emergency, but they also transcend the current moment by contributing to the long-running cross-clinic dialogue about teaching and designing clinics for social justice.
Clinical Law Review
Emily Benfer, James Bhandary-Alexander, Yael Cannon, Medha D. Makhlouf, and Tomar Pierson-Brown, Setting the Health Justice Agenda: Addressing Health Inequity and Injustice in the Post-Pandemic Clinic, 28 Clinical L. Rev. 45 (2021).