This Article proposes expanding the legal academy’s role in responding to disasters and emergencies, specifically through creating disaster clinics that take a community-based lawyering approach. The Article is one of the first to identify the need for community-based disaster legal clinical education that goes beyond the immediate response phase. It also proposes creating a disaster legal pipeline from the clinic through post-graduation employment. The Article furthers the literature’s discussion of the need for sustained disaster legal education. As the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 coronavirus continues to impact vulnerable populations and the frequency of natural disasters continues to increase, this Article provides a blueprint to law school faculty and administrators on the process of starting a new clinic or redesigning an existing clinic into a long-term disaster-related clinic. Additionally, the Article provides a timeline of disaster legislation that has evolved to provide a robust background for seminar courses. The Article draws from the author’s expertise in creating two disaster clinics and multiple disaster and environmental justice courses.

The Article looks at the creation of the disaster legal clinic, examines the evolution of the popular Equal Justice Works disaster corps, and provides best practices for designing the course. The Article provides insight on the distinctive ability of law schools to foster community-based solutions, as demonstrated through the lens of successful clinics.