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Western Michigan University Cooley Journal of Practical & Clinical Law




For centuries, the legal profession has prided itself on managing the impacts of crises and disasters for our clients. However, as disasters seem to be more commonplace than before, is the legal profession prepared to manage a crisis of its own? With the livelihood of nearly 79,0002 possibly at stake in the United States, shouldn't preparing for a disaster be one of our top priorities as a profession? Additionally, the professional responsibility rules and civil liability will likely not be completely suspended during a disaster. This means that individuals could possibly face discipline or civil liability for failing to prepare for a disaster. Though this culture of preparedness is growing; what about our duty as leaders to preparing our communities? Would it be surprising to learn that there has been a gap in collaboration between legal and emergency management profession until it's too late? Though some work has been done to help bridge this gap, more can still be done. The Emergency Management profession has developed and routinely updates Emergency Management program accreditation and certification programs for itself that are used in various industries both domestically and internationally. Incorporating these established programs within the legal community will allow the legal profession to have a solid foundation in mitigating professional responsibility and civil liability pitfalls following a disaster. Additionally, the tertiary effects of this program are likely to: (1) provide a ready and capable legal community who can easily understand and assist emergency managers and civic leaders with some of their most misunderstood legal problems before, during, and after a disaster; (2) safeguard access to justice after a disaster strikes; and (3) preserve client and third-party tangible personal property.

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Thomas M. Cooley Law School

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Disaster Law Commons