Setting the Health Justice Agenda: Addressing Health Inequity & Injustice in the Post-Pandemic Clinic

Clinical Law Review, Vol. 28, Fall 2021, Pp. 45-84.
(2021). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. 2395.

U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2021-24

40 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2021 Last revised: 2 Dec 2021

See all articles by Emily A. Benfer

Emily A. Benfer

Wake Forest University - School of Law

James Bhandary-Alexander

Yale Law School; Yale University - Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy

Yael Cannon

Georgetown University Law Center

Medha D. Makhlouf

Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson Law

Tomar Pierson-Brown

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Date Written: July 15, 2021

Abstract

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.

Keywords: clinical education, legal education, health justice, health equity, public health, health disparities, racial justice

Suggested Citation

Benfer, Emily and Bhandary-Alexander, James and Cannon, Yael and Makhlouf, Medha and Pierson-Brown, Tomar, Setting the Health Justice Agenda: Addressing Health Inequity & Injustice in the Post-Pandemic Clinic (July 15, 2021). Clinical Law Review, Vol. 28, Fall 2021, Pp. 45-84.
(2021). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. 2395., U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2021-24, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3887559

Emily Benfer

Wake Forest University - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States

James Bhandary-Alexander

Yale Law School ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06510
United States

Yale University - Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Yael Cannon (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

Medha Makhlouf

Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson Law ( email )

150 S College St
Carlisle, PA 17013
United States

Tomar Pierson-Brown

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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